Auto Sales Flat in February for Third Straight Month: Is Weather to Blame?

Cars stuck in the snow Photo credit: ChrisGoldNY / Foter / CC BY-NC


Vehicle inventories are growing – but auto sales are certainly not increasing. The trend can be seen since December 2013, when sales remain flat, then fell in January and will most probably be flat in February.

Both GM and Ford report that their sales fell in December last year, and are expected to fall in February as well.

The main reason for the negative results seem to be the harsh winter weather. Another factor for auto sales numbers are the stock market fluctuations.

Still, there is no reason for pessimism. The auto sales for 2014 are expected to increase, but not at the same rate as in 2012 and 2013. Naturally, with the crisis earlier in the 2000s, the first years after it are the strongest in growth. Upward movement in sales is still expected after the cold winter turns into milder weather.

Read the source article at Stock Market

Bonding Insurance Explained

People who use phrases like “bonding insurance” or “insurance bonds” are often referring to fidelity bonds whether they know it or not. If you’re interested in bonding but are unsure about what options are available to you and what the benefits of each are, this guide will help steer you in the right direction.



What is Fidelity Bond Insurance?

Fidelity bonds are a form of insurance that protect against employee dishonesty such as theft, and usually aren’t required.  There are a few different types of fidelity bonds that have their own benefits that are important to understand.

Business service fidelity bonds protect customers from employee dishonesty by those hired to perform services on their property. Cleaning services, pest control companies or moving services often get this type of fidelity bond because it protects the life blood of their business, which are the customers. For example, if an employee steals from a customer and is convicted in a court of law, the business service fidelity bond policy will cover the losses.

An employee dishonesty fidelity bond protects an employer from dishonest acts of their own employees. This bond is very similar to a business service bond, but the protection is meant for the employer, not the customer.

ERISA fidelity bonds are actually required by law (thanks to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) to protect participants and beneficiaries of employee benefit plans from fraudulent acts by those who manage the employee benefit plans (known as the fiduciaries). Read our article to find out more on what it means to be bonded with fidelity bonds.


What Are Surety Bonds?

It’s also possible that someone who uses a term like “bond insurance” is looking for information on surety bonds, which are very different from fidelity bonds. Surety bonds are required by the government or other third parties and provide guarantees. What the surety bond guarantees depends on the specific type; there are hundreds of surety bond types with guarantees that range from ensuring a mortgage broker won’t commit fraud, to guaranteeing a contractor will properly complete a construction job for a municipality. Check out our guide to learn more about how surety bonds work. If you’re still unsure whether you need a surety bond or fidelity bond insurance, please take a look at our bond insurance infographic guide.

Now that you understand the difference between fidelity bond insurance and surety bonds, you should be able to make educated decisions on how to protect and run a business with the correct bonds in place. As always, if you have any questions, please leave a comment below.

Getting Your California Contractor’s License

California Grunge Flag
Do you know how to get your California contractor’s license?
Nicolas Raymond / Flickr / CC BY

Did you know that there are more than 300,000 licensed contractors in California? Would you like to be one of them? If yes, we can help you figure out what you need to get easily licensed in the Golden State.

If you want to conduct contract business for more than $500, you need to get licensed by the California Contractors State License Board. The Board protects consumers and regulates contractors’ activities in the state. It processes all licensing applications, license renewals, additional classifications, and changes of license records.

You can get a California contractor’s license in more than 40 contractor classifications. The top 10 include general building, electrical works, general engineering, plumbing, painting and decoration, air heating, ventilation and air conditioning, landscaping, flooring, concrete works and tile (ceramic and mosaic) works.


Preparations for concrete placement at the Folsom auxiliary spillway
You can obtain a California contractor’s license in more than 40 classification areas
USAcehq / Flickr / CC BY


Additionally, the contractor classifications are split into three main categories: general engineering contractor, general building contractor and specialty contractor, which has multiple specialty fields.


Getting Licensed

In order to obtain your contractor license in California, you will have to fulfill the particular requirements set by the Contractor State License Board for your classification. This will entail submitting a completed application form along with a $300 non-refundable application fee.

CA Contractors State License Board

The skill prerequisite can be fulfilled with either specialized education or four years of working experience in the field. You might need to pass an exam in your specific skill area, but you should check if you can get a waiver for this based on your professional experience. If you do need to pass a specialty exam, you can start contractor state license courses in advance to help you refresh your knowledge.

Make sure to include details about your work experience in the application, because this can also clarify your exam eligibility. Also, be aware that there’s one final requirement –  to submit a full set of fingerprints for a mandatory criminal background check.


Getting Your Contractor’s License Bond

One of the contractor licensing requirements in California is to obtain a surety bond. The bond amount is $12,500 and the contractor needs to pay a percentage of it as a bond price.

Don’t forget – there’s a difference between a contractor bond and a contractor’s license bond! The first category includes bonds such as performance bonds, payment bonds and bid bonds. They are required for work on specific projects. Contractor’s license bonds, on the other hand, are general bonds required for licensing as a general contractor or specialty contractor.

Construction of the UC Davis California Native Plant GATEway Garden
Contractors need to get bonded in order to get their California contractor’s license GoodLifeGarden / Flickr / CC BY-SA


The bond is a guarantee that you, as the contractor, will abide by the State’s rules and regulations in your work. It acts as a safety net for customers. The contractor’s license bond should be issued by a surety bond company authorized by the California Department of Insurance. If you want to learn more, take a look at the California contractor’s license bond page.

If you’re looking for ways to save on your contractor’s license bond, keep in mind you have to choose your surety bond agency carefully. While some agencies require excellent history in many financial and business criteria, here at JW Surety Bonds we will only check your personal credit score. That’s our simple basis for approving bonds and determining bond price.

Obtaining your California contractor’s license bond is a conveniently straightforward process. You can apply through our website and get a quick online quote and approval.


Ready to Get Licensed?

Once you’ve gathered all the licensing information for your contracting specialty field, you just need to follow through the easy steps of getting bonded and licensed. Don’t forget, it’s much easier to go through bureaucratic processes when you know all of the requirements and have your documents fully prepared. So start today by looking up the forms you need using the links above!

We hope you enjoy your contract work in the Golden State!