funds control

Increased Production

Ever wonder why a surety bond underwriter asks you for new business?

  • Is it because they are nosy and want to gauge your agency strength?
  • Does the surety has a loss ratio problem?
  • Has poor customer service caused the underwriter to fall short of goals?
  • Or maybe the underwriter has a sincere interest in deepening your relationship for mutual benefit.

FIA has been writing Site/Subdivision, Bid and Performance Bonds for over 40 years.  We are “A” Rated and having an excellent 2020!

“Can we help you with any new business?”

Call: 856-304-7348

FIA Surety / First Indemnity of America Insurance Company, Morris Plains, NJ

We are currently licensed in: NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, WV, TN,  FL, GA, AL, OK, TX

Get to Know FIA Surety: Paul Alongi, Sr., Claims Manager

When was the last time you spoke to a personal friend of Joe Pesci and Frankie Valle? Ok, never? Well, meet our Claims Manager, Mr. Paul Alongi, Sr.

Paul was born in Newark, the oldest of four children and graduated from Barringer High School.  Joe Pesci and Frankie Valle were among his friends. Born with a love of music, he learned to play tenor sax at age 7.  As a big band member, his group backed up Connie Francis, Dion and the Belmonts, Tony Bennet, Xavier Cougat, Al Martino and others.  To this day, Paul is an active musician playing in several venues.

He was athletic, too!  Paul tried out for the NY Yankees in these early years.

Paul started his insurance career in the actuarial department of U. S. Life and studied for his law degree at night. In five years, he graduated from Seton Hall Law School and started his law practice.

While running for public office, Essex County Freeholder, he met a fellow candidate, Patrick Lynch.  Years later this would result in Paul joining Pat’s young company “First Indemnity of America Insurance Company / FIA Surety” to become our first Claims Manager.  He’s been a valuable asset all these years.

Paul has served on the Bloomfield Board of Education (President), the New Jersey Commission of Investigations, and has also been a long-time leader in many community organizations, including: the Bloomfield Federation of Music and Civic Band, the Garden State Concert Band, St. Thomas the Apostle Parish and Finance Councils, Holy Name Society and Circle of Friends.

Paul is a highly experienced problem solver and, he is accessible to our agents and clients!  973-541-3414

FIA Surety / First Indemnity of America Insurance Company, Morris Plains, NJ

We are currently licensed in: NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, WV, TN,  FL, GA, AL, OK, TX

 

Site and Subdivision Bonds – The Sequel

In March we told you why Home builders and their Bonding Agents love Site and Subdivision bonds.  (Click to read prior message)  But don’t take our word for it.  Here’s what the International Risk Management Institute has to say about it:

“Corporate surety bonds are far and away the most preferred option for most owner/developers when you consider the potential disadvantages of the alternative guarantee forms.” (Click for entire article)

Clearly, the smart move for home builders and their bond agents is a surety bond.  And the bonding company you want is the specialist, long devoted to this market.  Unwavering since 1979.

Call FIA Surety.  It’s the smart move.

Steve Golia 856-304-7348

FIA Surety / First Indemnity of America Insurance Company, Morris Plains, NJ

We are currently licensed in: NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, WV, TN,  FL, GA, AL, OK, TX

 

#170: Why Developers LOVE Subdivision Bonds

When developers and home builders start a new project, they must give security to the local township. This guarantees construction of the “public improvements.”

The security can be in cash, an irrevocable letter of credit (ILOC), or a subdivision bond (surety bond).

Why is a bond the best method?

  • Developers retain the use of their cash. Keep it available to acquire and finance new projects. Use it to solve problems. Remember, cash is king!
  • More control if there is a claim: They are processed through the bonding company. There is a discovery process. The developer has input and more control than with an ILOC. With an ILOC they can simply grab the developer’s money!
  • Better long term protection. These guarantees are hard to close, may drag on for years. The township is in no hurry to give up their security. It’s easy to renew the bond and you’re good for another year.

Developers and home builders love subdivision bonds – especially if they obtain them from one of the industry’s strongest players: FIA Surety. We have supported developers and home builders with subdivision bonds since 1979.

Call us for your next one or to replace existing security you have already filed.

Steve Golia, Marketing Mgr. 856-304-7348

FIA Surety / First Indemnity of America Insurance Company, Morris Plains, NJ

How to Get Rid of Surety Bonds & Why You Should

“How can I miss you if you don’t go away?”

Performance Bonds are issued by insurance companies – but they are not insurance policies.  When you get to the end of your auto insurance, it will expire if not renewed.  Plus, the company can cancel it in the middle of the year.  Boom, it’s done!  Insurance policies are not “forever.” Click for mood music!

With surety bonds it’s different.  First off, they’re harder to get.  Then, when you finally have it, they don’t expire! And the bonding company can’t cancel a performance bond. So how do they end?

The fact is, people focus on getting surety bonds because they are a mandatory element of many transactions, but they think little of getting rid of the bond – eventually.  Let’s go over why you want to close out a performance bond, and how to do it.

Every performance bond is married to a written contract that is identified in the first part of the bond.  They are married until death – until the contract is completed. If you have a two year contract covered by a Performance and Payment Bond, you have a two year bond, unless the contract is extended. If the contract is amended to a term of 25 months, the bond automatically follows.  If the contract dollar amount is increased, the bond automatically follows.  The point of the bond is to guarantee the Obligee’s (the beneficiary of the bond) satisfaction with the performance of the contract.  So the bond remains in force until the obligee / contract owner accepts the completed contract.

To close out the surety’s obligation, a release or acceptance of the contract by the obligee is needed.  The applicant / principal (contractor) can’t cancel or close the bond.  Only the obligee can end it.

Closing evidence can consist of a Status Inquiry form completed by the obligee.  The questions would be:

If the project IS completed:

Completion date: ___________  Acceptance date: _____________ Final contract amount: $___________

If the project IS NOT completed:

Approximate percentage or dollar amount completed: $_____________________________

Describe any disputes or performance issues on the project: _______________________________

Do you know of any unpaid bills for labor or materials? ____ No ____ Yes  If Yes, please describe: _____________________

Current estimated completion date: ____________________________________

Now that we know how to close out a performance bond, why bother to do it?  There are some very good reasons…

The Surety

  • The surety (bonding company) will conclude the liability on their books when the bond is released.
  • They also immediately earn all the remaining premium. Two good reasons!

The Contractor / Principal

  • That portion of the company’s bonding capacity will be restored to support a new contract.  This helps them qualify for more projects and larger ones. That is the source of their company revenues.
  • When completed, the project is added to the company’s credentials.  They can now list the contract as a successfully completed job.  That’s how their resume is built.
  • The applicant company, it’s owners and spouses have a legal liability that arises through the indemnity agreement (a hold harmless issued to protect the surety.)  It is literally a liability which must be disclosed on their financial statements.  When the bonds are released, this company and personal liability ends.

The Bonding Agent

  • The agent wins too because more bonds can be issued.  And that’s how they make their living.

Conclusion

Everybody wins when the job is closed out and the bond gets released. This is a necessary process that should not be ignored.

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

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

Visit us Click!

Performance Bonds: How To Avoid Funds Control

Funds Control, Escrow, Funds Administration – are all the same thing, and can be part of the process when a Performance and Payment Bond is needed.

What is it, and how can you avoid it?

Funds Control is an underwriting device used by some bonding companies. The procedure is specifically intended to reduce the risk associated with the Payment Bond aspect of the surety’s exposure. The surety is guaranteeing that suppliers of labor and material will be paid. If they are not, the creditor is entitled to make a claim on the Payment Bond for recovery.

The funds administrator acts as the paymaster on the contract. They pay everyone, including the contractor. Under this arrangement, the contractor is not handling money or disbursing funds. This makes the surety confident that folks will be paid appropriately (thus preventing payment bond claims,) and it also assures that none of the money for our bonded contract is shifted over to support other unbonded projects (an illegal action.)

Now the paymaster doesn’t work for free. They perform monthly checking on the contract status including the billings, they gather lien releases from the vendors, they keep the books on the project and write all the checks on behalf of the contractor. The cost if this may be.5 – 1% of the contract amount, paid by the contractor. Normally it comes out of their profits.

Contractors may be unhappy with the fee, and they always worry about the turn around time to get checks issued by the administrator each month. They need to keep the project moving.

So let’s look at an alternative procedure that doesn’t cost the contractor any money, prevents any possible delay in turn around time… and still protects the surety on the payment bond.

The alternative is to have Joint Checks issued by the obligee. What does this mean?

Joint Checks are issued by the obligee / project owner in the name of the bonded contractor and their vendor. For example, if the contractor owes the lumber yard $20,000, a check is written payable to the contractor and the lumber yard specifically for $20,000. This procedure assures that funds sent to the contractor must end up in the hands of the supplier. Under the normal method of payment, a lump sum check for multiple vendors is sent to the contractor, and everyone hopes the funds will be used appropriately / promptly to pay bills related to the bonded work. Please note: That doesn’t always happen. And when money is mis-directed, a payment bond claim can result.

Conclusion: Compared to Performance Bonds, Payment Bonds are the most frequent area of surety bond claims. When the bonding company needs an extra cushion to assure the proper handling of money, Joint Checking is an alternative to Funds Control that is fast and free for the contractor – and helpful to the surety.

Want this expertise and creativity on your next Bid or Performance Bond? FIA Surety is a NJ based bonding company that can help!  We have specialized in Bid, Performance, Site and Subdivision Bonds since 1979.

Steve Golia is Marketing Manager for FIA Surety.  Call Steve now: 856-304-7348

Visit us Click!

Completion, Performance, Site, Subdivision Bonds: What’s the DIF?!

Po’boy, hoagie, grinder, heroe, sub: You get the idea. Different names for the same thing. 

So what about these surety bond names?  Over the years I’ve heard them all used for the same transaction. But are they really the same?  No, No, Nooooooooo!  We will explain.

“Who’s” on first: (brief definitions)

Principal – is the construction company whose actions are the subject of the bond

Obligee – is the party protected by the bond

Surety – is the bonding company providing the guarantee

  • Performance Bonds: Issued in connection with a contract that is referenced in the bond.  Guarantees that the principal will complete the project on time and in compliance with all written conditions.  The obligee is the beneficiary of the bond and is the “project owner” of the contract (they are hiring the contractor and paying for the work).  The obligee could be a public or private entity. A Dual Obligee Rider could add parties with a financial interest – such as the construction lender. They would share in the bond amount in the event of a claim.
  • Completion Bonds: Issued in connection with a construction loan. These are issued directly to the construction lender and protect the loan.  The lender is not a party to the construction contract.
  • Another version is a Movie Completion Bond for the film industry – guarantees that the new movie gets produced and “in the can.”
  • Site Bonds: Issued in connection with a specific project.  Could be a business owner modifying the company property, parking lot, driveways, etc.  The public body with jurisdiction over the job site is the beneficiary (obligee.) The bond promises that “public improvements” required by the planning board will be built at the principal’s (property owner’s) expense.  Such work is not paid for by the township.  The township is not party to a construction contract. The principal pays for the work out of pocket, or though a construction loan.
  • Subdivision: This is the same as a site bond, although on a larger scale. The difference is that it involves multiple sites all covered under one bond.  The bond promises that “public improvements” required by the planning board will be built at the principal’s (the developer’s) expense.  These improvements are later deeded over to the township – such as streets, curbs, lighting, water and sewer lines, etc. These bonds do not concern the building of homes or buildings. The guaranteed work is not paid for by the township.

It’s no surprise that folks use these terms interchangeably.  They all involve the contractor’s performance, but with a slightly different purpose.

You can assume all bond people know these differences.  But can you assume all bonding companies provide these bonds?  No, no,  nooooo!

Developers are the applicants for subdivision bonds, but any business can require a site bond. You need to know that FIA Surety is a leading provider of Site and Subdivision bonds. We write them and we’re good at it!

Next time you need a site, subdivision or performance bond, give us a call.

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

FIA Surety

Secrets of Bonding #166: Meet the Weatherman

Tonight’s forecast: Dark!

We like to joke about the TV weather team: “I wish I had a job where I could be wrong 50% of the time!” *  But in reality, we still tune in and watch.

   Question: Is a surety bond underwriter just like a weatherperson?  How are they similar?

Both are paid to make predictions.  They gather and analyze information: “Crystal ball gazers.”  There is a hope / expectation that they will achieve some degree of accuracy.  Whether you are forecasting the POP, or the completion of a construction project, isn’t it just about the same?

You know forecasters use computer models.  They have the National Weather Service and there are Canadian and European Models.  They could just put that up on the TV screen!  We don’t really need the “local weather talent,” do we? 

What about bonding? Many sureties already use computer based programs.  These provide instant or quick answers on surety bonds that fall into certain categories.  Is that all we need?  Should we get rid of the Surety Underwriter / Weatherman entirely?  We say “No!”  Here’s why…

  • The Underwriter does more than predict the future. A good underwriter contributes to the outcome.  Their efforts positively affect many people. 
  • When bonds are approved, the bond agent makes money.  The construction company achieves new revenues. So do their suppliers and subcontractors.  Think of the ripple effect!
  • The bonding company and their reinsurers make money. 
  • Presumably something of value is built for the owner; a useful asset is created. 

Really good underwriters are more than “yes / no” decision makers, they are facilitators. The experienced underwriter sees a path forward that may not be obvious to others.  How can this deal (performance bond) be supported while protecting the interests of the surety, the guarantor of the project’s success?  Here’s where knowledge, experience and attitude come in. 

Does the underwriter want to make the deal happen, and have the know-how to do it?

These high level underwriters aren’t weathermen, they are Rain Makers!  They work actively to produce profits and success for all they touch. Without their expertise, projects would not be supported and built.  Doors get opened and companies reach new, higher levels of mutual success. 

This is a combination of science and art with a dash of experience.  And you don’t find it too often.  But when you do, grab an umbrella and watch good things happen.

Steve Golia is a long established surety bond provider and expert. Call us with your next bid or performance bond. 856-304-7348 

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*  Actually, weather forecasters average more than 80% accuracy.  Good job guys!

Security Solutions!

If you have read my (numerous!) surety articles online, you may think bonds are the only thing I care about.  While this is true, I do have ideas on other subjects and here is one that has me worried: Cyber Security.

The threats are all around us: Phishing, hacking, denial of service attacks, viruses, identity theft and credit card fraud.  It is obvious that the bad guys will never let up, never stop looking for ways to take advantage of people – unless we do something dramatic to thwart them forever.

So here they are, solutions that are inexpensive or FREE! that will help protect you, your privacy and your assets.

Protect Your Data

Do you trust the “cloud”?  What if they lose your data, sell it or they get hacked?! Here is a solution that will protect your passwords, account numbers and other valuable info, prevent all internet and email scams and assure that you have complete access to all your info, all the time.

This solution is portable and permanent, and the total cost is (you’re gonna love this): $1.79 at Staples. 

This security solution is called a “Pocket Notepad.”  Here’s how it works:

You write down all your important stuff, then you put the notepad in your pocket. 

THAT’S IT!  No hacking, no phishing, and you can take it with you when you go fishing. Totally portable!

Credit Card Fraud

So many ways for thieves to get your info.  They use skimmers to read your data. There is malware, web scams and picking through your trash.

Here is a security solution that will prevent all unauthorized use of you credit / debit cards – and this one is Free!  This solution is called “Cash.”

Cash is paper money and coins issued by the government.  You can use it to buy anything, and it is accepted everywhere.  Pay with Cash and never worry again about unauthorized access to your account.

Privacy

Facebook and other social network platforms gather your info – then what?  There is no way to predict who may have access and then misuse it.

Our final security solution is another Free one!  This will absolutely protect your info from misuse or attack on the internet.  You will still have the ability to pursue new relationships and maintain current friendships as you do with your current social media.

In fact, this solution goes even further! It enables an enhanced level of communication where you can see the individual in real time, and actually touch them!!!  It is called “Talking.”  You talk to the person, they answer you and (get this) they are right in the room with you!!!  Insane!

This is actually a very old concept that has been used successfully for thousands of years.  It is tried and proven – and it could work for you.

So there you have them, three great inexpensive / free solutions to the cyber threats we face.  Technology is the cause of the problem, and it may not be the cure.  With this article, we invite you to consider the following:

  1. You may not find the solution to every problem in your cell phone. I admit they are cool and do a lot – more every day.  But sometimes “old school” is better.  Try giving it a chance occasionally.
  2. You think all Bond People are boring? We’re not!  We love to use our knowledge and creativity to solve bonding problems. Our underwriting staff has many (many, many) years of contract surety expertise.  When you call needing a bid or performance bond up to $10 million, our greatest joy is to be the solution you were looking for.  Keep this number in your new $1.79 Notepad: 856-304-7348.

We are the national contract bond underwriting department for Great Midwest Insurance Company, a corporate surety with an A-8 rating.  We can help you solve your next contract surety need. KIS Surety 

(Don’t miss our next exciting article.  Click the “Follow” button at the top right.)