Month: August 2019

Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Live Without Them: Bonding Companies

  • “I don’t know what you want unless you tell me.”
  • “Nothing is ever enough for you.”
  • “No, those pants don’t make you look fat.”

Sound familiar?  Have you uttered these words?   Were you talking about your romance life, or your bonding company (except for the pants comment.)

It turns out that much of the frustration we have in life arises from a failure to see things from another point of view. Husbands and wives know this.  But the good news is that there is a common solution.  Open communication and good listening skills are the key.  Can this be applied to suretyship?  (For mood music, Click!)

“What’s with all the Questions?!”

This is a good place to start.  Why do bonding companies ask so many questions?  And just when you get to the end of round one, they think up more.  It’s like they don’t ever want it to end!

Answer: To a degree, it doesn’t ever end.  That’s because the credit analysis a surety performs is based on info that constantly changes – and will do so without notice to the surety. They have to keep a finger on the pulse to be confident when issuing bonds.

“Why do I have to give my personal indemnity AND pay a premium for the bonds?”

It seems like the bonding company is taking no risk and they get paid for it!

Answer: Actually, personal indemnity does not guarantee that a surety will not have a net loss on a bond claim.  When a claim occurs, the company owners may already be depleted (trying unsuccessfully to resolve the problem.) When the “stuff” hits the fan, the surety has to foot the bill and the indemnity may be worthless.

“Do these pants make me look fat?”

When contractors start to pursue an excessive work load the bonding company may put the brakes on. They don’t want the company spread too thin with insufficient management and financial resources. Actually, dying from an excessive amount of work (too fat) is more prevalent than the opposite.

The surety wants to be sure the client remains stable and able to perform their work – and thus avoid any possibility of a bond claim.

Conclusion

Are bonding companies unfathomable, impossible to understand? No, it’s just that, unlike insurance companies, they are risk averse.  They operate on a very thin margin and problems (claims) of any size can hurt them.  Their very survival depends on being prudent and conservative.  This means ask questions and move forward with caution.

So now, can you love your surety?  Maybe a little bit…

FIA Surety is a NJ based bonding company (carrier) that has specialized in Site Bonds since 1979 – we’re good at it!  Call us with your next one, Bid and Performance bonds, too.

Steve Golia, Marketing Mgr.: 856-304-7348

First Indemnity of America Ins. Co.

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Surety Bond Quacks Like A Duck

Isn’t that a great expression? “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck…”

This article is about correctly identifying the type of surety bond.  It is a problem we see often: Cases where the wrong app was used, time wasted, etc.  It happened again this past week.

The agent called us with a performance bond need, about $10,000.  They has used a short form application and sent it to another surety that rejected it.  The reason given “the applicant was the principal.”  The applicant is always the principal, so this didn’t help.  We dug deeper.

The client and agent thought they needed a performance (P&P) bond, but we quickly identified it as a Site Bond – most sureties don’t do them. Let’s go through the key questions and characteristics that make it easy to recognize a site bond when it quacks.

Quick Primer:

A Performance and Payment bond guarantees a construction contract in which the Applicant / Principal is paid by the Obligee to perform the work.

Site Bonds are written with the city or township as Obligee, guaranteeing that a developer or property owner will build required “public improvements” at their own expense.

Here are three key questions to get you on the right track:

Q. Who is the Obligee that is requiring the bond?

A. On site bonds, it is always the township or city whose planning board has approved the project.

 

Q. Is there a construction contract?

A. On site bonds there is no contract between the township and the property owner or developer. On P&P bonds there is always a contract between the principal and the obligee.

 

Q. How did the need for the bond arise?

A. On site bonds, the township or township engineer writes to the property owner describing the need for the bond, the work it will cover “public improvements” and the dollar value. On P&P Bonds there are written specifications (requirements) and a construction contract that talk about the bond.

Another clue that helped us quack, I mean crack, this case was the low dollar amount.  You could get site bonds for less than $5,000 but it would be extremely rare to go that low on a P&P bond.

 

So now when a site bond lands on your desk, you’ll recognize it.  Any of your commercial clients could need one when they upgrade or modify their property. The next question is to choose a market.  Most sureties don’t write them – but WE DO!

FIA Surety is a NJ based bonding company (carrier) that has specialized in Site Bonds since 1979 – we’re good at it!  Call us with your next one, Bid and Performance bonds, too.

Steve Golia, Marketing Mgr.: 856-304-7348

First Indemnity of America Ins. Co.

 

 

Surety Bonds Are Not Fair!

Why are some surety bonds better than others? Why can small ones be harder to get than big ones?

Construction companies are among a bonding company’s most important clients. They are the source of Performance and Payment bonds which guarantee their construction contracts. For a bonding company (surety), these are probably the largest and most lucrative transactions. So why would the surety risk losing a client by giving tough terms on an obviously small bond?

There are many different types of surety bonds, and contractors may need a variety of them: Bid bond, performance, payment, maintenance, license, permit, court, are a few. In this article we will discuss why the big ones (large dollar amount) can be easier to get than small ones – even for the same applicant.

The answer to this question lies in the nature of the obligation, not the dollar amount. A good way to illustrate this is to compare a Performance bond to a Wage and Welfare bond.

Performance Bond

Performance and Payment (P&P) bonds concern construction contracts. They guarantee that the applicant will perform the project in accordance with all aspects of the written contract, and they will pay the related bills for suppliers of labor and material.

Wage and Welfare Bond

This type of bond is needed by union contractors (companies that employ union workers.) The W&W bond guarantees that the construction company will pay the union wage rate as required and make the related periodic contributions to the union benefit plans such as the pension and health insurance program.

It’s Just Not Fair!

P&P bonds range in amount from a couple hundred thousand dollars to tens of millions, whereas a W&W bond is often under $100,000. So why can it be easier to get the big one? Why can a $500,000 performance bond be easier to get than a $50,000 union bond?

The answer lies in the nature of the obligation – and the worst case scenarios.

Let’s assume the contractor goes out of business. With a performance bond, the surety steps into the contractors shoes. They must make arrangements to complete the project in accordance with the contract. The beneficiary of the performance bond (aka the obligee, the owner of the contract) continues to pay out the remainder of the contract amount as work progresses. Now they pay the surety performing the completion. This is called the “unpaid contract amount.” Even if the contractor falls flat and has no money personally, the unpaid contract amount is a resource the surety can depend on – and hopefully avoid a net loss on the claim.

The union bond is a promise to pay funds at a future date. It is a financial guarantee – the toughest type of surety obligation. The underwriters will look into their crystal ball… Oh, sorry, we don’t have one.

The surety is guaranteeing the future solvency of the construction company, not an easy task. And if they are wrong, if the contractor cannot make their union payments because they have no money, then there is no money for the surety, either.

Q. Who is likely to pay the wage and welfare claim?

A. The surety (a net loss)

It is the tough nature of some small bonds (wage and welfare, release of lien, supersedeas) that makes them exceptionally hard to get – often requiring full collateral. On the other hand, the surety may give the same applicant a $300,000 performance bond based primarily on just their credit report!

Bottom line: It just ain’t fair, but we never promised it would be – because the nature of the obligation differs. That is the deciding factor, even more than the dollar amount of the bond.

Want to deal with real experts on your next surety bond? Steve Golia is Marketing Manager for FIA Surety, a NJ based insurance company providing Bid, Performance, Site and Subdivision Bonds since 1979.

Steve: 856-304-7348

FIA Surety / First Indemnity of America Insurance Company

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