Amazon is now enforcing insurance requirements to sell on their marketplace. Per Amazon’s terms of service, business liability insurance protection is required for all sellers. Do you carry business liability insurance? If not, your Amazon seller account is not protected. Take the steps now to avoid any limited access or account suspension. Don’t drop your seller rank. I’d like you to learn the steps to get into compliance.
Update February 2024: Many non-residents who had insurance from their own country from a U.S. insurance company with global branches have found their insurance policies are being canceled and reported to Amazon (a requirement). Many non-residents who do not want to risk a disruption in their Amazon account are looking for U.S. insurance providers. That is exactly who we help. Unfortunately, most sellers take shortcuts, resulting in no coverage when needed by insurance underwriters.
Update December 2024: On the eve of the Corporate Transparency Act going into place, non-resident sellers with U.S. LLCs doing business on Amazon for insurance purposes, now more than ever, need to be clear between what is required for complete insurance coverage from a U.S. underwriter (most will not have complete coverage), changes to an existing Amazon account and creating a U.S. person, the changes to your U.S. tax responsibilities, and now the owner of the U.S. LLC and reporting the beneficial ownership information in 2024, and updates beyond. All these components are critical for your compliance and protection of your brand. NCP is your only one-stop-shop solution that works with the top U.S. e-commerce insurance providers. Proper insurance coverage is necessary for selling a high-risk product in the exercise, baby/children, or supplements niche.
Update August 2022: Amazon Reversal—update on commercial liability insurance policies for sellers. On June 13, 2022, we updated our Commercial Liability Insurance policy to require zero-deductible policies from sellers. Following this update, several sellers told us about their challenges in procuring zero-deductible policies. We thank our sellers for this feedback, and we won’t proceed with this change.
We will continue to allow policies with deductibles for sellers on Amazon and have reverted to our previous policy requirement: The deductible for any policy(ies) must not be greater than $10,000, and any deductible amount must be listed on the certificate(s) of insurance. We will reflect this update on our Commercial Liability Insurance policy in the coming days. For more information, visit Business Insurance and A-to-z Claims Process for Property Damage and Personal Injury.
Update June 13th, 2022: Amazon tightens liability insurance rules for sellers under $1 million in sales. Now, sellers whose gross sales are $1 million or less may not have any deductible. Small sellers incur higher costs since no-deductible insurance plans usually have higher premiums. This change will take effect seven days after the announcement.
Update 2022: Buy Box Experts interviewed Scott Letourneau, CEO of NCP, and Matt Lovell of Well-Insurance.com about what Amazon requires. The complete interview is available at this link.
Here are the two changes:
- Your policy can include a deductible if (i) your gross proceeds from sales of your products in the Amazon.com store exceed USD 1 million in the last 12 months, and (ii) the deductible is listed on your Certificate of Insurance;
- For single-member LLCs, the insured name can match either your legal entity name or the name you publicly use to identify your business (“trade name,” “doing business as,” or “DBA”);
Update: Amazon has made an essential update to terms of service (TOS) insurance requirements. As of August 10, 2021, sellers received an e-mail announcing a revision of Amazon’s A to Z Guarantee program. In that announcement, Amazon announced that on September 1, it is changing when a seller needs to obtain liability insurance. The seller will need liability insurance when they have reached $10,000 in sales for three consecutive months or once they obtain $10,000 in sales in any month. Amazon sellers are on the hook for claims above $1,000. That means you have a lot of exposure, especially if you are hit with a lawsuit. $1 million in coverage is required, but you may need more than that to protect yourself. Please look at Amazon’s Notices to Seller Requiring Proof of Insurance.
Foreign sellers must purchase in their local country and have a global protection policy (if you can even find anyone to insure you). If not, I’ve outlined your best option below with forming a U.S. company, if you don’t mind. Most sellers received an e-mail on September 13, 2021, and a second notice was received on October 29, giving a reminder to provide the certificate of insurance within 30 days.
Update from March 2022: many of the same sellers receive notices who received their first notice in September or October. They are past 90 days, and their accounts have not been suspended. This can change at any time. Likely, Amazon has had challenges providing options for non-residents, which has slowed the process. But why risk your account? Could you schedule a call with our team now? Our team has a 100% success rate with getting approval from Amazon for non-residents.
Insurance providers receive email notices from Amazon to verify the seller’s information, including the name and DBA name on the insurance, the policy number, the expiration date, and policy coverage. We don’t know what happens if your insurance company does not respond to these requests (not because they don’t want to, but because thousands of requests are going out). If you make monthly payments to your insurance provider, ensure your payments are current and your credit card is being charged. Otherwise, your policy will not be approved, and the insurance provider must report if your policy is inactive due to non-payment.
From Amazon: If we don’t get your proof of insurance within 60 days of the first notification by Amazon or we cannot confirm the information you provide, future disbursements will be held in your seller account until we can verify your proof of insurance. If you still need to take action or we cannot” properly verify your proof of insurance within 90 days of the initial notification, we may not allow you to continue selling on Amazon.com.
Strategy: There is a disconnect between using the LLC to obtain the certificate of insurance and what names go on in addition to the LLC. There is a different tax impact when the LLC is for the insurance, but not to operate your Amazon business. Using a U.S. LLC to operate your Amazon business is more involved and is different for this situation. We have pointed it out to Amazon and have a solution for you when you work with NCP. Please review our video below for an overview of how we will help you get into compliance.
What is required for Non-Resident Amazon Sellers to Obtain a Certificate of Insurance from a U.S. insurance company and keep their account active?
Here is your checklist to obtain a Certificate of Insurance from a U.S. insurance provider (our recommendation is Well-Insurance.com).
- A U.S. entity. [Important note] A U.S. insurance policy must be written on a U.S. company to provide proper coverage. Don’t assume that if you obtain a certificate of insurance with only an address and EIN, and Amazon accepts it, it will be valid long-term. Amazon wants companies to have the proper coverage to protect you if required.
- A U.S. address (not a PO Box)
- An EIN from the IRS (now taking about 7-10 business days). Note: The IRS requires the EIN to be faxed to a U.S. company vs. a foreign company, where you can call over the phone.
- Obtain the COI (a quote will be provided after your U.S. company is in place)
- Update your Amazon Seller Account properly and receive address verification (NCP provides all these steps)
- Upload your certificate of insurance
Other key support areas:
- Our partner CPA firm will file this strategy’s appropriate U.S. tax returns.
- Which U.S. state best lowers your insurance costs and gives you the best option for compliance if a utility bill is required?
- What U.S. tax returns are required, and what fees are involved based on your situation?
- What annual requirements are triggered with my U.S. entity formation?
- Complete support between your U.S. entity formation, your certificate of insurance, and updating Amazon correctly to keep your account active. All our clients are getting approved when you follow our steps.
We will share our best options to help you solve your certificate of insurance requirements to keep your Amazon account active.
Our clients have a 100% success rate when following our steps. This is the result you want in your Amazon account.
Amazon’s 30-Day Notification and Insurance Requirements
Sellers with professional selling plans on Amazon.com must provide proof of Commercial General Liability insurance or Certificate of Insurance (COI). This insurance, obtained at the seller’s expense, shall cover up to $1,000,000 per occurrence and in the aggregate and must include product liability, bodily injury, personal injury, property damage, and other requirements as stated in the Participation Agreement. The insurance must indicate that “Amazon.com, Inc., and its affiliates and assignees” are added as additional insureds.”
As we mentioned earlier, this was amended. A seller must obtain liability insurance once they have reached $10,000 in sales for three consecutive months or once they obtain $10,000 in sales in any month.
Amazon said it would pay for A to Z guarantee claims seeking compensation for personal injury and product damage under $1,000 and will not seek compensation from sellers with valid insurance.
With these new changes, you may receive a notice within 30 days to provide proof of insurance. The goal is to avoid suspension with your Amazon account.
The challenge is that your insurance rates may be much higher or impossible to obtain as a non-resident. For example, most foreign insurance companies don’t want to insure supplements due to the risk. Those companies are partnered with American insurance companies.
U.S. Company Formation Strategy
For the American insurance company to underwrite your policy, you must operate through a U.S. entity. A U.S. LLC is the most common. The key is ensuring your U.S. LLC is appropriately established, especially with the IRS, so you avoid any necessary audits. You can learn more about U.S. taxation requirements for non-residents and the components of a complete U.S. LLC formation.
The strategy is different in this situation and will also impact (in your favor) U.S. taxes and tax filing requirements.
Once you have the U.S. LLC, the insurance provider can quote you. An EIN is required, but it must be attached to the file. Typically, you can receive a quote before having your EIN in place.
How to Classify Your Insurance Correctly for Proper Coverage when You Import Your Product from China
Amazon wants you to provide them with a certificate of insurance (COI). Amazon does not know the difference between a basic policy that is classified and rated for an “online retailer or e-commerce retailer” vs. a policy that has been rated as an “importer” or “manufacturer” of some type. But this should be a big difference when protecting your brand and business. Also, Amazon must be added as an additional insured and notified if the policy is canceled or expires. Don’t be surprised if you receive different insurance rates due to these factors.
If you are dropshipping someone else’s brand, a basic insurance policy such as an “online retailer or e-commerce retailer” will be sufficient as long as supplement sales don’t exceed 25% of your total sales. These are less money also. This is sufficient because if there is a lawsuit, it will be pointed to the brand you are dropshipping, not necessarily you as the seller. That does not mean you can’t be sued, but lawsuits are about going after deep pockets at the end of the day.
If you sell private label products, you do NOT want to be classified and rated as an “Online Retailer” or “eCommerce Retailer.” Suppose you want accurate coverage for your brand, not only to appease Amazon’s certificate of insurance requirement. This will not be sufficient coverage in the event of an actual lawsuit. Why? You, the seller, assume all the liability exposure, even though your products were manufactured in China because you can NOT subrogate back against a Chinese manufacturing facility. What does subrogate mean? Subrogation describes a legal right held by most insurance carriers to pursue a third party that caused an insurance loss to the insured.
If you are a private label seller, you want to be correctly rated and classified as an importer or manufacturer of some type, which will come with a higher insurance premium.
Now, you will have the proper coverage if your company is sued. If your products are manufactured in the U.S., you expect your premium to be slightly lower (all other factors). Of course, if you are selling products subject to more liability, that will also impact your premiums.
Your insured name must match the “legal entity” name you provided to Amazon for your certificate of insurance (COI) to be accepted.
Ultimately, you want to work with an insurance provider that will give you the proper coverage for your business and family to protect your brand, not only to provide Amazon or other marketplaces with a certificate of insurance.
What is the Time Frame to Obtain Liability Insurance?
A quote can happen within a day or two if straightforward but may take a few more days if it is more complex. The key is someone filling out the application correctly. The certificate of insurance (COI) will come in about 2-3 days after the application is submitted, and the first payment to the insurance provider, monthly, quarterly, or annual. This is important because Amazon gives 30-day notices to update your account to avoid a suspension.
You may also ask for worldwide coverage, which is only another $200 + or so in many cases.
Estimated Insurance Costs?
You will want to know your Amazon business’s estimated liability insurance cost. The best way is to obtain an estimate when your U.S. LLC has been formed. Please look at our U.S. Entity formations page for U.S. LLC services and details of our support.
Here is an overview of what liability insurance may range for a year.
• Basic household items range from $400 to $600.
• Higher-risk products such as supplements, children’s items, exercise/sporting goods, cosmetics, and nutritional products may range from $1,000 to $10,000. The average in these categories is around $3,500.
Amazon is one of many marketplaces that requires liability insurance. Here are a few of the major ones that will also want to see your certificate of insurance.
What Will Happen if Amazon Sellers Don’t Have Insurance After Their 30-Day Notice?
Update: After speaking with one of the Amazon insurance providers, they have revealed that Amazon plans to send out an e-mail a week or two after September 1 for all those who did not comply, giving a 30-day final notice for compliance. This is much more serious. Will they suspend your account after that 30-day notice? That is not likely, but limited access to funds may be an option. Will foreign sellers in some countries be given more time because it is harder to obtain insurance?
That is possible. Could the 30-day notice changed to a 60-day notice? That is possible. As of January 2024, most sellers who have received several notices in the past 90 days have not been suspended, but that can change any day.
Timing is Key
Once you hit the $10K sales threshold in a month, you must provide insurance to Amazon.
Could you be sure to obtain liability insurance before the last minute? Even though it can happen quickly, you must ensure your U.S. entity is appropriately formed with the state (the easy part) and the IRS. Internal documents are drafted correctly to make sure your Amazon.com business is protected.
Since our team has worked closely with the Amazon team in the past, we have the correct steps to help you update your Amazon seller account after formation to ensure your account is not suspended. Yes, we even can provide the “dreaded” utility bill (only on companies we form) if required.
Are You Stuck?
Did you already obtain a certificate of insurance, but Amazon is not accepting it? Did you form a U.S. LLC?
Do you need help with what to update on Amazon or what U.S. tax responsibilities you may have triggered?
We can help you with our strategy calls to solve these and other challenges you may be having with protecting your Amazon account. You can learn more at this link.