How to choose a bonding company

Bonding companies are insurance carriers listed on the bond itself that guarantees you will abide by the bond terms. If you do not meet the bond obligations and trigger a bond claim, the surety will initially pay it.

Most bond companies do not work with the public; they use bond agencies to represent them. Choosing the right agency is often more important than finding the right bond company because agencies will determine which surety is the best fit for your bond needs.

Agents consider a variety of factors when pairing you with a surety such as the:

  • Surety limits
  • Surety rates
  • Surety appetite

Surety limits determine the size and total dollar amount of bonds you can obtain. There is a single bond limit, which is the largest single bond the surety can write for you. Then there is the aggregate bond limit, which is the total dollar amount of bonds the surety can write for you. Choosing the wrong surety bond companies can prevent you from satisfying your bonding needs, also known as outgrowing the surety.

Bond agents will also look at surety rates, which differ by the surety companies' rate filings with the state, and the surety's appetite for different bond types.

The sureties' appetite is determined by their past experiences with certain bond types and what the bonds guarantee. The guarantee determines the risk posed to the surety company, and some sureties have had negative experiences with higher risk bond types and industries and will avoid them. The risk of the applicant also influences a surety's appetite for different types of surety bonds.

The obligees have conditions that sureties must meet to issue surety bonds. For a surety to issue any surety bond, it must be licensed in the state the bond will be filed.

For sureties to issue bonds required by the Federal government, they must be listed in the Federal Treasury listing of approved sureties.

For contract bonds, obligees generally require sureties to have a minimum grade of B+ or higher from A.M. Best, which is a company that analyzes businesses' financial strength. The highest possible A.M. Best rating is A++, and we are one of the few agencies that have access to sureties with this rating. It is imperative to provide the surety or agent with any bond requirements from the obligee prior to approval.

If you get a surety bond through an unqualified surety:

  • Your bond can be rejected
  • The surety may not refund you for rejected bonds
  • You may be forced to pay for a new bond if the surety's grade is downgraded (contract bonds only)

See the list below including some of our highly rated bond company partners:

  • Great American Insurance Group
  • Philadelphia Insurance Companies
  • The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc.
  • HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc.
  • CNA
  • International Fidelity Insurance Company

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Choose the right bond company

Transcript: Choose The Right Bonding Company

Man: I need a surety bond, but I'm lost when it comes to which surety bond company to use.

JW: Ok, first let's clarify what a surety company is so you know what to do. The bonding company is the insurance carrier that is backing your bond. Most bonding companies do not deal directly with the public and require you to go to an appointed surety bond agency. A large agency like JW has a large list of bond companies to pair you up with the best fit for you.

Man: So what if I choose the wrong bonding agents?

JW: They could potentially set you up with a bonding company that does not meet the requirements. In that case, you paid for a very expensive piece of paper.

Man: What types of requirements do the surety companies need to meet?

JW: For one, the bonding company's financial strength rating may need to be a certain grade. If the grade is too low, the bond can be rejected. If the grade drops while the bond is in place, you might be forced to pay for another bond to replace it.

Man: I didn't realize that where I got my bond from mattered so much.

JW: It's also important to know that in suretyship, there is strength in numbers. Large agencies like JW can negotiate bulk bond programs to provide you the cheapest rate, simplified applications, and possibly get you approved when others can't. Larger agencies are also often able to obtain larger contract bond lines from construction bonding companies as well.

Man: Ok, ok I get it. I'll apply with JW Surety.

JW: That's the smartest decision you've made all day. Watch our other video to learn the importance of choosing the right bond agency.

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