Turning back the clock…..and bond agents working for a living.
Do you recall the late 90′s and way early in 2000 when getting approved for contractors Performance & Payment bonds were as easy as having a pulse? “Oh, you’re breathing? You’re approved!” That time period was an interesting but a rather frightening time in the surety industry. All the bonding companies began to become more and more competitive in this dog eat dog industry, so much that sureties were giving things away to contractors! Waving your spouse from the agreement? SURE! waiving personal indemnity all together for that matter! Dropping rates down to $6 per thousand….the list goes on.
Since the sureties have exceeded losses in the past couple years more than the losses they had throughout the whole past decade, has forced them to re-group themselves. Underwriting has taken an entire swing the other way and is incredibly conservative in all spectrums of underwriting. Aggregate bond lines have been sliced in half, rates have doubled, the re-insurers even writing surety have dropped to a measly 10 and all of this is all a snowball effect of one thing affecting another. However, In the end, it does change the industry in a positive way.
For one thing, it means that any contractor OR sub-contractor with a Performance bond in hand for the guarantee of their contract, likely, truly is qualified to get that job done-AND will get it done per the terms of their contract.
The obligee (who is requiring the bond) won’t feel the reluctance in accepting a bond as they may have in the soft bond market previously due to the soft underwriting that was occurring. Previously, many contractors still defaulted on jobs, and did so more willingly with no personal indemnity on the line.
Now, there is a rigorous underwriting process that each contractor must face. And there should be! Applying for a bonding line of credit and or Performance bond is just like applying for a line of credit from your bank. It is CREDIT. In this case, it’s not simply just to pay back a loan but to actually perform on a contract. Of course, with this type of guarantee the bonding company must make, their research into each contractor is complete.
This makes performance bonds not only a stronger tool for the owner that accepts them, but it sure does make us agents work for a living!