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Surety Bond

A surety bond is a promise by a surety company to pay one party (the obligee) a certain amount if a second party (the principal) fails to meet an obligation, such as fulfilling the terms of a contract. Essentially, it's a financial guarantee that obligations will be met.

What is a Surety Bond in Insurance?

In the realm of insurance, a surety bond is a type of agreement that involves three parties: the principal, the obligee, and the surety.

  • Principal: The party who needs the bond and whose performance is being guaranteed.
  • Obligee: The party who requires the bond, typically to ensure the principal fulfills an obligation.
  • Surety: The insurance company that issues the bond and guarantees the principal’s performance.

A surety bond provides a safety net for the obligee, ensuring that if the principal fails to perform as agreed, the surety will step in to cover losses or complete the obligation.

Example: Imagine a construction company (the principal) is hired to build a new office building. The company must secure a surety bond before the project begins. The client (the obligee) wants to be sure that the construction company will complete the project according to the contract. If the construction company fails to finish the project, the surety company will compensate the client or arrange for the completion of the work.

Surety Bond Graphic Insurance Glossary

Key Components of Surety Bond

  1. Principal: The entity or individual required to perform a contractual obligation.

    The principal is usually a business or contractor who needs the bond to guarantee their performance on a project or obligation. They are responsible for meeting the terms of the contract.

  2. Obligee: The party protected by the bond.

    The obligee is typically a government agency, project owner, or any entity requiring the principal to obtain the bond. The obligee benefits from the bond because it ensures that they will receive compensation if the principal fails to fulfill their obligations.

  3. Surety: The company that issues the bond and provides the guarantee.

    The surety is usually an insurance company or bonding company that evaluates the risk of issuing the bond. If the principal fails to perform, the surety is responsible for covering any losses up to the bond amount.

Types of Surety Bond

There are various types of surety bonds, each serving different purposes. Here are four common types:

Contract Surety Bonds

These are used in the construction industry to guarantee that contractors will fulfill their contractual obligations. They include, bid bonds, performance bonds and payment bonds.

Machinery Salvage

Commercial Surety Bonds: These bonds are required for various business purposes, including licenses and permits. Examples include: License and Permit Bonds and Court Bonds.

Fidelity Bonds

These protect businesses against losses due to employee dishonesty, such as theft or fraud. They are not technically surety bonds but are often included in discussions about bonds due to their protective nature.

Subdivision Bonds

Required by local governments, these bonds guarantee that developers will complete public improvements, such as streets and sidewalks, within a subdivision.

How Insurance Covers Surety Bonds

While surety bonds are often issued by insurance companies, they differ from traditional insurance policies. Here’s how insurance typically covers surety bonds:

  • Issuance and Premiums: Businesses must apply for a surety bond through an insurance or bonding company. The surety assesses the risk and determines the bond amount. The principal pays a premium for the bond, similar to an insurance premium, but this is typically a percentage of the bond amount.

  • Indemnity Agreement: The principal usually signs an indemnity agreement, promising to reimburse the surety for any claims paid out. This means that while the surety provides a guarantee, the principal is ultimately responsible for covering any losses.

  • Claims and Reimbursement: If the principal fails to meet their obligations, the obligee can make a claim on the bond. The surety investigates the claim, and if valid, compensates the obligee up to the bond amount. The principal is then required to repay the surety for the amount paid out.

Surety Bond Photo Insurance Glossary