performance bonds

Bnods? Bonsd? You can’t even spell “Bonds!”

Maybe you don’t need to be a super expert on Surety Bonds. But you don’t want to be intimidated by the word either…

You can fix that now with our FREE CE program! FIA Surety is a bonding company that has specialized in Site, Subdivision and Contract surety since 1979. We’re also an approved Continuing Education provider.

It’s not too late to register for our 10/1/20 free webinar worth 3 CE credits in NJ, PA, SC,FL, TX and TN. The subject is Understanding Site and Subdivision Bonds.

The 11/2/20 class is on Bonding Basics – fun for all!

Don’t miss out. Learn how to spell B-O-N-D-S and more. The classes are a free service of FIA Surety. No exam. Take the Zoom class from your home or office computer.

Learn more and register now.

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

Changing Horses: Site & Subdivision Bonds #169

Abe Lincoln said it.  And it’s mostly true.  But here is one time when it really does make sense to “Change Horses In Mid-Stream!”

When Developers and Home Builders start a new project, they give security to the city or township guaranteeing the construction of public improvements (streets, curbs, lights, water, sewer, etc.) The security may be in the form of cash, a bank issued irrevocable letter of credit (ILOC), or a surety bond.

They’re all the same to the township, but there are huge differences for the contractor. The most obvious is the loss of use of their funds. How long will the money be tied up? It can take much longer than expected to get these obligations released (the township is in no hurry!)

If a dispute arises and cash or an ILOC was used, the township just takes the contractor’s money.  It’s all over.  With a surety bond, there is a discovery process through the claims department.  The contractor has input and may affect the outcome.

So, back to the horses.  For clients that have already posted cash or an ILOC, they can swap it out with a surety bond!  Get their money back. Gain more control. Protect company assets.  Put the cash to good use!

How to start? Call FIA Surety.  Since 1979, we have been a steady provider of site and subdivision bonds.  We do little $20,000 site bonds for commercial property owners and have written multi-multi million dollar subdivision projects.  Come to the experts to swap in a surety bond, or to write a new project. We get them done!

Read expert analysis: Why Surety Bonds are the way to go here.

Call FIA Surety: 973-541-3417

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: Glenn A. Runne, CFO

He’s a CPA, but he only uses his powers for good…

Super CPA

Glenn Runne was born in Kew Gardens, Queens N.Y. and grew up in North Bergen, N.J. He is the oldest of three kids.

His mom was a secretary and dad drove a truck. They also owned a neighborhood Bar and Grill for a few years.   From an early age they stressed the importance of a college degree. Typical for a “first born,” Glenn became a high achiever.

Glenn graduated North Bergen High School in 1972 and Montclair State University in 1976 with a BS in accounting and finance. He paid his own way through.

With a degree in hand, Glenn landed an accounting management position at N.J. Life Insurance Company. This gave him a strong foundation and he became a Certified Public Accountant in 1987!

A couple of years later, Glenn’s brother-in-law introduced him to Pat Lynch. Pat’s young company, First Indemnity of America Insurance Company, was in its second year.  Glenn’s expertise in accounting and taxes was a perfect fit. He joined the firm as VP and CFO in 1979.

In 2012 Glenn received the coveted “Chartered Global Management Accountant” designation.  This is international recognition of the world’s top professionals in his field!

More accomplishments:

  • Plaza School of Business – Adjunct Accounting instructor
  • Bergen Community College – Adjunct Accounting instructor
  • The Children’s Corner, Founder, Treasurer and Board of Directors member of a non-profit childcare center
  • Lake Hiawatha Country Club – Treasurer, Board of Directors member
  • Fellow in the American Institute of Public Accountants
  • And the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants.

With the help of his wife, Denise, Glenn raised 3 daughters: All college graduates with master’s degrees. Two girls became teachers and one is a certified public accountant. The apples fell close to the tree.

Glenn’s outside interests are physical fitness and attending New York Giants football games with his long-time season tickets.

If you did the math you see that Glenn is one of Pat’s many long-term employee/colleagues. His work has expanded proportionately with our organization.  Currently, Glenn oversees the accounting for our seven companies which includes three audits. He is also responsible for all the tax returns, plus forty-five states where we file.  Whew!

The dedication of long-term colleagues like Glenn is one of FIA Surety’s greatest strengths. 

Carry on, Glenn!

For Site, Subdivision, Bid and Performance Bonds call Steve Golia: 856-304-7348

FIA Surety / First Indemnity of America Insurance Company  Visit us: www.fiagroup.com
We are currently licensed in: NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, WV, TN,  FL, GA, AL, OK, TX

How Did a Fireman Become the Top Executive of a Bonding Company?

Get to Know FIA Surety: Patrick Lynch Sr.

How did a fireman become the top executive of a bonding company?

Pat Senior (we have two) grew up in Newark NJ, the oldest of five children.  Since 1943 his family was the owner / operator of The Ark, a Newark restaurant, bar and liquor store.  Pat grew up in the business and at age 19 was thrust into a management role upon the untimely death of his father.

Pat proceeded to run and grow the business over the course of the next 20 years, building up their volume more than 10-fold! The business was concluded when the city took over the Ark property for construction of a new housing project.

For 14 years Pat served the city of Newark as a fireman. He survived the 1967 riots – a tragic period that resulted in the shooting death of his boss, Capt. Mike Moran Sr.

Pat served as a board member and finance chairman for the Shepherds of Youth Charitable Trust in Newark.  He was also chairman of the Veterans Hospital.

He became a professional lobbyist during these years, which gave him contact with group insurance programs and lead to the formation of an insurance company.  In 1979, First Indemnity of America, aka FIA Surety was born under Pat’s leadership!

The company started with six employees and occupied three locations over the years.  Our staff eventually grew to 40.  Our home office is now in beautiful Morris Plains, NW of Newark, NJ.

For FIA Surety, the “big break” came when an active writer of subdivision bonds withdrew from the market in 1980.  We moved in, filled the vacuum, and have been a major writer of site and subdivision bonds ever since!

Today Pat is still “captain of the ship” FIA Surety, and is also a deep-sea fishing captain.  Two of his three children work in the business, and he boasts five grandchildren.

Pat built our business on relationships and he remains accessible to our agents and clients every day.

Office:  (973) 402-1200

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

Surety Bonds: Pay Raise or Title?

Enjoy this scene from Cheers “Woody: Raise or Title?”

We laugh at Woody being duped.  He went after the wrong prize, just like some agents when it comes to commissions.

Agents face this choice: Commission percentage or commission dollars?

You might think a higher commission percentage automatically means higher dollars, but slow down Woody: It ain’t necessarily so! Let’s do the math.

Example 1) Bond Amount: $1,000,000

Premium rate: 2% = $20,000

Commission Percentage: 30%

Commission Dollars: $6,000  

Example 2) Bond Amount: $1,000,000

Premium rate: 2.5% = $25,000

Commission Percentage: 25%

Commission Dollars: $6,250  

Interesting! A lower commission rate can yield higher commission dollars when the premium rate is higher.  When the premium rate goes lower, the commission dollars drop even more.  A 1% rate with a 30% commission yields only $3,000 commission!

What about sliding scales?  At 30% commission, the 25/15/10 rate delivers only $4,050 in commission dollars.

OK so here’s the conclusion: Focus on commission percentage and you may end up being Senior Bartender like Woody. When calculating income, the bond rate makes you a winner!

Since 1979 FIA has been a dependable provider of Bid, Performance, Site and Subdivision Bonds.  Call us with your next one.

Steve Golia, Marketing Mgr. 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

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Claim Your Free Surety Bond Gift!

It’s easy to get in on our Free Continuing Education program. This is a gift from FIA Surety.

“One of the best CE courses I ever attended! Our producers really needed this information.”

Our program last week was a huge success.

Bonding 101 explores the theory of surety bonds including pricing, underwriting and an overview of the marketplace. We track a Bid and Performance Bond from birth to death. It’s all practical info producers need.

Currently, our courses are approved in NJ and PA. And we deliver the program at your location! This is FIA Surety’s free gift to you. Call us for details.

Since 1979 FIA has been a dependable provider of Bid, Performance, Site and Subdivision Bonds.

Steve Golia, Marketing Mgr. 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

Godzilla Surety

He’s big.  And for Godzilla, that works!

But when you’re dealing with bonding companies, do you want big, or would you rather have responsive, nimble, flexible…?

At FIA Surety, we have had the same senior management staff in place since 1979.  Tons of stability and experience.  Compared to the big “monsters,” we’re a smaller surety. How does that help you?

Example: This week we got in a Site Bond, a type of bond many sureties do not support.  It was a little complicated.  The title to the property changed hands and the names on the documents didn’t match up.  It took some digging but we still approved it within a day. Why?  Because we can.

Nimble.  Responsive.

For some transactions you need Godzilla.  But for many others, you want the flexibility and willingness of FIA Surety.  Call us!

  • Bid Bonds
  • Performance and Payment
  • Site and Subdivision Bonds
  • Deposit Bonds for Home Builders

Steve Golia 856-304-7348
FIA Surety is First Indemnity of America Ins. Co.  (a carrier)
We are currently licensed in: NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, WV, TN,  FL, GA, AL, OK, TX

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.

 

 

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!

Performance Bonds: How To Avoid Collateral

This is a nasty subject. Not because collateral for surety bonds is inherently bad, but because it is a subject of great angst for contractors and their insurance / bond agents. For example:

  • Why is the bonding company taking money from me when they can see I’m in a weak cash position? I need it to successfully perform the new project.
  • You don’t pay me interest on the money? Why not?
  • When the job is half done, you will not release part of the collateral?
  • You will not release the collateral upon acceptance / completion of the contract?
  • You will not release the collateral until the warranty period ends?
  • Etc. Plenty of aggravating phone calls and emails.

With all this aggravation ahead, why do some bonding companies require collateral? The reason is to protect themselves in the event of a bond claim.When a contract surety loss occurs, the claims department hopes to have two dependable resources for financial recovery:

  1. The unpaid balance of the contract goes to the surety as they complete the work
  2. The surety sues the applicant / company and its owners to recover the loss

Collateral requirements arise when the surety wants to have certainty. If a problem develops, they don’t want to find that the client has no money left, or they declared bankruptcy… or left the country. If they are to write the bond, they want a guaranteed way of having financial recovery.Bearing in mind that collateral is a dear price to pay for a bond, let’s look at an alternative approach that helps the surety, but doesn’t take a big bite out of the contractor!

“Retainage” is money the project owner hold back (retains) to assure the final completion of the project and payment of related bills. If the retainage is 10%, the contractor receives 90% of the funds they are owed as the job progresses. At the end, the contract owner / obligee will still be holding 10% to keep the contractor interested in reaching total, satisfactory completion. In this manner, the retainage money protects both the obligee and the surety – making a bond claim less likely.

“Surety Consent to Release of Final Payment” is a voluntary procedure obligees may use as a courtesy to the surety. The last bit of contract funds may be useful leverage to get the contractor moving for the final contract adjustments. There may be building cracks, broken glass, defective lights, painting errors – small stuff that the obligee cares about but the contractor may find annoying to correct. The Surety Consent is another way for the bonding company the avoid a claim. “Fix this problem or we will not agree to release your final payment.”

How can these two useful tools be incorporated to guarantee they will help the surety, and therefore replace the need for collateral?

The answer is to add a condition to the bond (mandatory compliance required by the obligee) stating that there may be no release or reduction of retainage or final payment without the prior written consent of the surety. Now the bonding company is guaranteed to have a financial resource available and the amount is known in advance – just like collateral. But the contractor didn’t have to drain the company bank account to accomplish it: Win-win!

What if the contract terms do not provide for a retainage procedure? One can be added by contract amendment. If Funds Control (an escrow agent) is in use to handle the contract disbursements, a retainage procedure can be added to the funds control agreement.  Keep this alternative procedure in mind if your bond underwriter needs help to be more creative with the underwriting solution.

Speaking of Funds Control, watch for our article next week “Performance Bonds: How to Avoid Funds Control.”

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!