The surety bond industry has and still is struggling to categorize commercial bond forms required throughout the nation. A surety bond is made up of the bond form attached to a power of attorney. The bond form contains the language of the guarantee, telling you exactly what the bond is guaranteeing. Unfortunately, there is an astounding amount of different bond forms throughout the country. Think of how many different professions there are throughout the nation, everyone from mortgage brokers to auto dealers need bonds in order to legally operate in most states. Now take into consideration that the Federal Government, each state, and local municipality requiring a bond will have their own form. A mortgage broker in New Jersey needs to post a separate bond if they plan in operating in Maryland as well. A contractor may have a bond to file with their state license and a separate bond for their local government. I think you get the picture.
The Surety & Fidelity Association of America (SFAA) has taken on the task of creating an online database of bond forms. The database is constantly growing with additional bond forms being added from industry professionals throughout the states. You can search the bond form database free of charge. The abilities of the search are quite versatile. One can do a broad search for types of bonds or extremely narrow for a specific bond form.
The SFAA has done the surety industry a great deed by taking the time to create such a system. However, there are some unavoidable downfalls to the system. The disclaimer is as follows, “The BNI is not intended to be a source of bond forms to submit to obligees. It assumes you have the proper bond form and need its number to aid in the submission of an electronic execution report. Although SFAA makes every reasonable effort to keep the BNI up to date, the number of bond forms used in the marketplace makes it impossible to assure either comprehensive coverage or incorporation of every change to an existing bond. SFAA, therefore, must disclaim any responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or currency of the BNI. By using the BNI you agree: (a) that you release SFAA from any liability arising out of such use, (b) that you will take appropriate steps to verify that the bond form you propose to use is the form required for the transaction, and (c) that you will tell SFAA if you discover that a bond form in the BNI is no longer current or is otherwise incorrect.”. This means that you can not count on the system to ensure you are using the most up to date copy of a bond form. Unfortunately, obligees do not notify the SFAA when a bond form is updated. Relying solely on the SFAA’s system could result in a rejected bond due to use of an incorrect bond form. One might ask what good is the database if you can not count on the bond forms being up to date. I believe the system is currently good to find a clean copy of a bond form. I am more so hopeful for the future of the database, in hopes that obligees will eventually take the responsibility to update the system to make the bond process easier for all.