FAQ: Contract Bonds

Answers to common questions about contract bonds:

What is a contract bond?

A contract bond ensures the fulfillment of a contract.

What is a performance bond?

A performance bond guarantees the performance of a contractor. Performance bonds provide the project owner with a guarantee that the project will be completed to the specifications in the contract.

What is a bid bond?

A bid bond ensures that the contractor can comply with the terms of the contract and has the wherewithal to accomplish and complete the job. A project owner would not usually know the capability and financial standings of a contractor that bids on their project. The project owner can have peace-of-mind knowing that those aspects of the contractor have been carefully assessed.

What is a payment bond?

A payment bond will ensure that all of a contractor’s payment obligations to employees, suppliers and subcontractors will be fulfilled in the event that the contractor fails to pay.

What is an obligee?

Obligee is a formal word for a beneficiary who might be the project owner, government agency, etc.

Is a bond insurance?

Bonds are considered a specialty form of insurance, and the Surety is usually an insurance company. Surety bonds are very different than insurance, however, because the beneficiary is a third party. As long as the Principal does what is promised, the Surety will not be called upon to perform or pay. The Principal is the primary responsible party under the bond and is obligated to reimburse the Surety for any claims or expenses incurred by the surety if the Principal has not lived up to their agreement.

Who benefits from a bond?

The Obligee is the beneficiary under a surety bond. If the Principal cannot or will not perform, the Surety steps in and makes good on the Principal’s obligation. The Obligee also has an obligation under the bond. If the Obligee fails to fulfill their responsibilities under the contract or agreement, neither the Principal nor Surety has any liability.

What types of bonds are there?

Bonds can be required either by law or contract. Bonds can be divided into the following broad categories: Contract, Commercial, Court, Fidelity, License & Permit, Federal, Public Official, and Miscellaneous.

How is a surety bond underwritten?

Depending on the amount and the type of bond requested, surety underwriters may evaluate financial information, detailed credit history of the business and its principal owners, as well as management’s experience. Based on the Surety’s expert decision making ability, they will not only be able to assess a Principal’s ability to pay or perform an agreement, but the Surety will also be able to determine the Principal’s willingness to fulfill their promise.

What is indemnity?

The indemnity agreement is a legal document that fully discloses the Principal’s obligations in a surety relationship and provides for the Surety to recover any losses paid out on behalf of a Principal. The Principal is the primary responsible party under the bond and to reimburse the Surety for any claims or expenses they incurred if the Principal has not lived up to their agreement. Old Republic Surety accepts DocuSign electronic signatures for our Indemnity Agreements.

What is a paper Power of Attorney?

Surety companies give paper Power of Attorney to their appointed independent insurance agents to allow the agent to act on the behalf of the Surety to bind coverage for them.

What happens if a claim is filed against my bond?

The Surety’s claim department will conduct an investigation as quickly as possible to avoid any further damages and mitigate their exposure. It is important to note that, as the Principal under a bond, a pending claim does not necessarily mean there will be a financial loss incurred since the dispute may not even be legitimate. If the Surety does determine through their examination that the claim is valid, the Principal will be reminded of their obligations under the indemnity agreement and given the opportunity to satisfy the claim first. If the Principal fails to respond, the Surety will arrange settlement with the Obligee and implement collection proceedings against the Principal.

Old Republic Surety understands construction and they’re good at it. The people we’re dealing with are good people. The rapport you build with their underwriters, you realize they are thorough.
Gus Zervos
Zervos Group / Southfield, MI

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