Yes, with auto insurance there is a difference between a loss payee and a certificate holder.
A loss payee is a person or entity with a legally secured insurable interest in another’s property, usually a financial institution that loaned money to buy a car. The car is the loan collateral. If the auto is damaged in an accident, loss payments will be made to you (the policyholder) and to the loss payee on your policy.
With a certificate holder the certificate states in writing to the certificate holder that the Named Insured (you, the policyholder) has the specific coverage and limits listed on the certificate. It does not grant insurance coverage to the certificate holder. It only states that you have the specified coverages.
Being a certificate holder entitles that entity to receive notices of any changes in the policy. A certificate of insurance itself bestows no rights upon the holder. It is merely for informational purposes. The certificate of insurance usually lists the type of insurance, amount of insurance, the insuring company and contact information.
A certificate of insurance holder is not the same as someone designated as an additional insured or loss payee. An additional insured means the person or entity has been added to the original policy and with the loss payee payments by the insurer are made out to the named insured and loss payee. The certificate holder is just advised of the insurance that is on the vehicle and if any changes are made