bid bonds

FREE CE!

First Indemnity of America Insurance Company

An “A Rated” Carrier

2740 Rt. 10 West, Suite 205
Morris Plains, NJ 07950
Office: 973-541-3417

FIA Surety is First Indemnity of America Insurance Company, a provider of Site, Subdivision, Bid and Performance Bonds since 1979.  Call us when you need a surety bond!

Through our accredited FIA Surety School, we offer continuing education courses for insurance agents.  These courses are provided free of charge, a service of FIA Surety. You can participate in these teleconference sessions from the convenience of your home or office computer.

Use the registration form below and join us for the next CE webinar!

Our teleconference courses are approved for resident agents of:

  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • New Jersey
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas

Upcoming:

  • December 1, 2020, Tuesday, 9:00 am to 12 noon Eastern Time, teleconference CE class “Understanding Site and Subdivision Bonds Webinar” (3 CE credits)
  • There WILL be future dates added.

To attend our webinars, please complete the form below and we will send you a confirmation email. Please register at lease five days before the scheduled class date.

Questions?  Call us!  Steve Golia, Director 856-304-7348

FAQS:

  • Q. Are the Continuing Education classes approved by the state? A. Yes all our courses are fully approved by each state where we offer them.
  • Q. How many credits are provided in each course?  A. Three CE credits per course.  You can get credits for each course once per license cycle.
  • Q. Who is eligible to attend these classes.  A. Any licensed P&C agent is allowed to take our courses.
  • Q. How many people from our agency may attend? A. One or more may attend.  Tell your colleagues not to miss it.
  • Q. How much do the courses cost?  A. All our courses are free, a service of FIA Surety.
  • Q. How is the course delivered?  A. These are teleconference courses (webinars) you may attend from any computer at work or home.
  • Q. Do I need special software?  Do I have to buy anything?  A. This is a “Zoom” meeting.  Free!
  • Q. How do I attend a future course?  A. Complete the brief registration form below and we will process your reservation.
  • Q. Can I take a course immediately before my license renewal date?  A. You can take our courses any time during the term of your license.  However, time is needed to post and process your credits, therefore we recommend attending the courses at lease 60 days prior to your anniversary.
  • Q. What do I need to do during the course?  A. You need to be present continuously, give the program your undivided attention and respond to our attendance verification prompts.
  • Q. When are the classes held?  A. From 8:45 am to 12:15 pm (includes set-up and break time.)
  • Q. Is there a final exam?  A. No.

REGISTRATION FORM

Thanks for submitting your registration!

Get to Know FIA Surety: Glenn A. Runne, CFO

He’s a CPA, but he only uses his powers for good…

Super CPA

Glenn Runne was born in Kew Gardens, Queens N.Y. and grew up in North Bergen, N.J. He is the oldest of three kids.

His mom was a secretary and dad drove a truck. They also owned a neighborhood Bar and Grill for a few years.   From an early age they stressed the importance of a college degree. Typical for a “first born,” Glenn became a high achiever.

Glenn graduated North Bergen High School in 1972 and Montclair State University in 1976 with a BS in accounting and finance. He paid his own way through.

With a degree in hand, Glenn landed an accounting management position at N.J. Life Insurance Company. This gave him a strong foundation and he became a Certified Public Accountant in 1987!

A couple of years later, Glenn’s brother-in-law introduced him to Pat Lynch. Pat’s young company, First Indemnity of America Insurance Company, was in its second year.  Glenn’s expertise in accounting and taxes was a perfect fit. He joined the firm as VP and CFO in 1979.

In 2012 Glenn received the coveted “Chartered Global Management Accountant” designation.  This is international recognition of the world’s top professionals in his field!

More accomplishments:

  • Plaza School of Business – Adjunct Accounting instructor
  • Bergen Community College – Adjunct Accounting instructor
  • The Children’s Corner, Founder, Treasurer and Board of Directors member of a non-profit childcare center
  • Lake Hiawatha Country Club – Treasurer, Board of Directors member
  • Fellow in the American Institute of Public Accountants
  • And the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants.

With the help of his wife, Denise, Glenn raised 3 daughters: All college graduates with master’s degrees. Two girls became teachers and one is a certified public accountant. The apples fell close to the tree.

Glenn’s outside interests are physical fitness and attending New York Giants football games with his long-time season tickets.

If you did the math you see that Glenn is one of Pat’s many long-term employee/colleagues. His work has expanded proportionately with our organization.  Currently, Glenn oversees the accounting for our seven companies which includes three audits. He is also responsible for all the tax returns, plus forty-five states where we file.  Whew!

The dedication of long-term colleagues like Glenn is one of FIA Surety’s greatest strengths. 

Carry on, Glenn!

For Site, Subdivision, Bid and Performance Bonds call Steve Golia: 856-304-7348

FIA Surety / First Indemnity of America Insurance Company  Visit us: www.fiagroup.com
We are currently licensed in: NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, WV, TN,  FL, GA, AL, OK, TX

FIA Surety Success Story

This was a tough case.

The contractor needed a performance bond. We reviewed the bond request form and noted the bid results: They were 100% below the second bidder!

We obtained the company’s fiscal year end financial statement. Our analysis revealed a negative working capital and their net worth had slipped below zero due to a net loss for the period. Pretty tough…

The agent was not a bonding expert, so it was up to us to find a way to help this account.

Collateral was not an option because of their weakened condition. If it hurts the contractor, it can’t be good for us.

We dug deeper to fully appreciate all of the applicant’s attributes:

  • The bid spread resulted from the fact that the project was specialty work and the second bidder was a general contractor. They would have to hire someone like our client to perform the job. This contributed to their significantly higher price. Also, the applicant documented a good profit margin in their price.
  • There were specific reasons for the net loss. Corrective actions were taken and current financial results were improved.
  • We identified the applicant’s additional financial resources – there were multiple credit lines available (unused) and personal cash.

We wrote the bond! The difference is that FIA has a team of seasoned professionals with many years of experience (since the ’70s!). We know how to get through these tough cases.

Site, Subdivision, Performance and Payment Bonds.

Now you know who to call.

Steve Golia, Marketing Mgr. 856-304-7348

FIA Surety / First Indemnity of America Insurance Company, Morris Plains, NJ

We are currently licensed in: NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, WV, TN,  FL, GA, AL, OK, TX

Alpacas vs. Llamas

Look at that face!  Don’t you love it? That sure is a cute Alpaca! Uh…or is it a Llama?  Hard to tell,  but  it’s  OK.  You still love it.

For Surety Bond Producers, it can be hard to tell the difference between a performance bond and a site bond.  In this case, it does matter because the apps and markets you use for performance bonds may not get you the site bond your client requires. You need to know the difference!

Solution #1.  You have at least one market that is a strong, stable player on Site and Subdivision Bonds.  FIA Surety is your go to market.  We has been writing these confidently since 1979.

Solution #2. FIA offers a free, accredited CE course on Site and Subdivision Bonds (PA and NJ).  We provide the course at your location. After this 3 credit course, you will know the difference.  Give us a call and get on our calendar for a CE session in March or April.

Solution #3. That’s an Alpaca!  Smaller than a Llama: 150 lbs vs. 400 lbs.

Steve Golia 856-304-7348
FIA Surety is First Indemnity of America Ins. Co.  (a carrier)
2740 Rt. 10 West, Suite 205
Morris Plains, NJ 07950
Office: 973-541-3417
Visit us: www.fiagroup.com
We are currently licensed in: NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, WV, TN,  FL, GA, AL, OK, TX

 

 

 

Be A Code Breaker! (Surety Bonds)

The Enigma Machine was a famous encryption device used by the Germans during WWII to transmit coded messages. It allowed for billions of ways to encode a message, making it incredibly difficult for other nations to crack German codes during the war.

Enigma Machine

In this article, You will learn how to break a code, how to solve a mystery in 20 seconds or less – every time. It is a surety bond mystery: The key element that determines the nature of the bond and predicts the successful underwriting path.

Here are your clues.

  1. “KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS:”  These words are the common beginning of surety bonds.  You’ll see them over and over.
  2. “WHEREAS” will start one or more paragraphs which describe the circumstances in connection with the bond need.
  3. “NOW THEREFORE, THE CONDITION OF THIS OBLIGATION…” is the beginning of the promise in the bond.  It is the point of the bond guarantee and it determines the underwriting path.

Find the “NOW THEREFORE” paragraph and you can break the code.  What does it guarantee?  If it is the correct performance of a contract, the underwriting will concern the applicant’s ability to complete the work.  If the guarantee is to pay money when due, the underwriting will concern the applicant’s credit history and financial strength.  It makes sense.

Test your new skill

Ever hear of an ARC bond?  Probably not, but here is the “Now Therefore” clause for you to analyze:

NOW THEREFORE, THE CONDITION OF THIS OBLIGATION IS SUCH that if the Principal shall duly comply with the provision of said Agreement with respect to all amounts owed to the Obligee, as in said Agreement provided, during the term of this bond as hereinafter provided, then this obligation to be void, otherwise to remain in full force and effect in law…

OK Code Breakers, what can we conclude?

  1. It promises compliance with an agreement, so we’ll want to review that document.
  2. The applicant must comply with respect to “all amounts owed to the Obligee,” so the bond is guaranteeing the payment of money in the future.
  3. How can we determine if they are likely to do that?  Need to get financial and credit info on the client.

So there you go!  In 20 seconds you scoped it out and already have an idea about the underwriting, difficulty in placing, and potential markets that may have an appetite.

The underwriting path always follows the nature of the guarantee, which you will find in the NOW THEREFORE clause.  It’s that simple to break the code!

What a great feeling when you deal with the real experts.  You know you’ll get fast, efficient processing by folks who really care.  Call FIA Surety with your next surety bond.

FIA Surety is First Indemnity of America Insurance Company based in Morris Plains, NJ.  We provide site, subdivision, bid, performance and other forms of surety bonds.

Steve Golia, Marketing Mgr.  856-304-7348

 

Surety Bond Quacks Like A Duck

Isn’t that a great expression? “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck…”

This article is about correctly identifying the type of surety bond.  It is a problem we see often: Cases where the wrong app was used, time wasted, etc.  It happened again this past week.

The agent called us with a performance bond need, about $10,000.  They has used a short form application and sent it to another surety that rejected it.  The reason given “the applicant was the principal.”  The applicant is always the principal, so this didn’t help.  We dug deeper.

The client and agent thought they needed a performance (P&P) bond, but we quickly identified it as a Site Bond – most sureties don’t do them. Let’s go through the key questions and characteristics that make it easy to recognize a site bond when it quacks.

Quick Primer:

A Performance and Payment bond guarantees a construction contract in which the Applicant / Principal is paid by the Obligee to perform the work.

Site Bonds are written with the city or township as Obligee, guaranteeing that a developer or property owner will build required “public improvements” at their own expense.

Here are three key questions to get you on the right track:

Q. Who is the Obligee that is requiring the bond?

A. On site bonds, it is always the township or city whose planning board has approved the project.

 

Q. Is there a construction contract?

A. On site bonds there is no contract between the township and the property owner or developer. On P&P bonds there is always a contract between the principal and the obligee.

 

Q. How did the need for the bond arise?

A. On site bonds, the township or township engineer writes to the property owner describing the need for the bond, the work it will cover “public improvements” and the dollar value. On P&P Bonds there are written specifications (requirements) and a construction contract that talk about the bond.

Another clue that helped us quack, I mean crack, this case was the low dollar amount.  You could get site bonds for less than $5,000 but it would be extremely rare to go that low on a P&P bond.

 

So now when a site bond lands on your desk, you’ll recognize it.  Any of your commercial clients could need one when they upgrade or modify their property. The next question is to choose a market.  Most sureties don’t write them – but WE DO!

FIA Surety is a NJ based bonding company (carrier) that has specialized in Site Bonds since 1979 – we’re good at it!  Call us with your next one, Bid and Performance bonds, too.

Steve Golia, Marketing Mgr.: 856-304-7348

First Indemnity of America Ins. Co.

 

 

Bid Results / Sgt. Joe Friday

    From 1951 to 1959 Dragnet was a defining police series that featured Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday.  Joe was famous for an interrogation line he often used: “Just the facts, ma’am!”

When bonding companies issue bid bonds they need to gather facts, too. It is an important process with implications for both the surety and the contractor.  For mood music, click.

So here are the facts, ma’am!

Bid results are the various proposal amounts submitted by contractors pursuing a particular project.  The bids are submitted at a designated time and place.  The list of bidders “lowest, second, third, etc.,” including the company name and $ amount, are the bid results.

The first party to know this info may be the contractor. They often attend the bid opening and write down the results.  Remember, they have a vested interest in the outcome.  They’re hoping to acquire a new project.

It is important for them to report the results promptly to the bonding company.  Here’s why:

Timely Issuance of Performance Bond

If the contractor is low bidder (offering the most favorable price to do the work), an award can be expected. The performance and payment bond will be needed by a set date to avoid loss of the project.  Reporting the bid results is the first step in this process.

Excessive Bid Spreads

A “bid spread” occurs when there is a significant (>10%) difference between the low and the second bidder. This is a red flag for the surety and contractor. All the bidders wanted the work.  They spent time and money developing their proposal. An excessive bid spread means the low bidder has a unique advantage (better expertise, prior experience, special equipment, lower material prices, etc.) over the other bidders OR they made a bid mis-calculation and are underpriced. (*Why is this a concern?)

If the contractor has a special advantage, they must share this info with the bonding company in order to obtain the P&P bond when required. The surety must be confident that the project will be completed properly.

If they made an error, they must notify the obligee / project owner that they wish to withdraw their bid.  If done promptly, they may avoid having a bid bond claim (for failing to move forward.)

Restore Capacity

When a bid bond is issued, underwriters consider a portion of the contractors surety line to be in use – under the expectation that they may win the project and need a P&P bond. If the contractor / bidder is not the low bidder, the capacity is restored to their surety line to support another project – as soon as the surety is notified.

For all these reasons, the prompt reporting of bid results is necessary.  A tight bid is a win for the contractor and surety.  The bidder acquires additional sales volume and the surety books a premium.  It’s how we all make money.

* Why is an excessive bid spread a concern?

If the contractor proceeds with a project that is underpriced, they may end up losing money on the work.

It’s an issue for the surety too, because they are the guarantor of the project.  They must complete the work if the contractor defaults, and they rely on the fact that the contract amount is adequate to accomplish this.  If it is not, the surety could face a net loss.

Excessive bid spreads are bad for everyone, even the obligee. If they award an underpriced project, they may end up with poor workmanship, missed deadlines and possibly a defaulted contract, ma’am!

Want this expertise and creativity on your next Bid or Performance Bond? FIA Surety is a NJ based bonding company that can help! We have specialized in Bid, Performance, Site and Subdivision Bonds since 1979.

Steve Golia is Marketing Manager for FIA Surety.  Call Steve now: 856-304-7348

Visit us Click!

When You Can’t Get a Bid Bond

Bid specifications often provide alternative forms of security to accompany the contractor’s proposal. Cash, a Certified Check, or a Bid Bond may be permitted.

Let’s take a look at the implications of each and when to use them, or not!

First, a quick primer on bids:

When contractors submit a proposal on bonded public work, bid security is normally required. The security assures the bidders sincerity: They will accept the contract if offered or pay a penalty for walking away.

Typically, the specifications require a Performance and Payment Bond or other form of acceptable security equal to the contract amount.

About the forms of bid security

1) Cash is King, but not when it comes to bid security. Bid security amounts are usually thousands of dollars so this method is not realistic for many contractors.

2) Certified Checks are similar to cash. This means the contractor must estimate the maximum proposal amount and arrange for a check payable to the obligee. Initially, the bid bond percentage is known but not the bid dollar amount. The specifications require security ranging from 5-20% of the proposal amount. However the actual proposal amount is often not compiled until close to bid time when all the vendor prices have been received and negotiated. To use a check, the contractor must estimate an amount sufficiently high so it is adequate to cover the bid figure when it is finally known.

3) Bid Bond issued by the surety. The advantage is that the bidder’s money is not tied up (as compared to cash or a check). As a precaution on public work, obligees hold the bid security of the second and third bidders until the contract is awarded – which could take weeks. This means the contractor’s cash or check could be tied up and the likelihood is that they will not win the project.

Looking at these options, a bid bond is the preferred choice. However, a bid bond is not always available when needed. When this happens, the bidder may consider an alternative.

Normally there is no requirement to use a bid bond specifically. The bidder also has the latitude to use one surety for the bid bond and a different one for the P&P bond (although some sureties dislike following another’s bid bond.)

Why would a bid bond not be available?

1. The contractor does not have a surety.

2. Short notice: Not enough time for the surety to make an underwriting decision.

3. Short notice 2: The surety has approved the bid bond but there is not enough time to issue.

4. Bid bond declination: The surety considered the project but will not support it.

5. Bid bond declination 2: The surety wants to support the project but they are unable to due to their lack of credentials, their insufficient capacity, licensing issues, or other problems on the surety’s part.

6. When contractors are changing bonding agents or sureties, there could be a gap in service where the new surety is not ready.

In all these cases, the contractor can decide to bid with cash or a check. However, there may be a downside to consider. Let’s look at each of the six scenarios described above.

Risks of bidding with cash or a check

1. No surety: The contractor could forfeit the bid security if they are awarded the project but are unable to produce the P&P bond.

2. Short notice: The risk here is the same as #1. Forfeiture could be the result if no P&P bond can be arranged within the timetable allowed.

3. Short notice 2: This is one situation where the check may be a reasonable alternative assuming the surety has provided a written approval to bond the contract.

4. Bid bond declination: This is a particularly troubling situation because the effort to arrange a Performance Bond faces two obstacles:

  • Time: Contract awards demand the issuance of the P&P bond by a specified date. There could be insufficient time to set up a new surety relationship.
  • The new surety, which hardly knows the contractor, is being asked to bond a project the incumbent surety declined. The incumbent was willing to lose the account over this project. Can the new underwriters be confident they are making a better decision than those who know the account well?

5. Bid bond declination 2: This example isn’t as onerous as #4. The problem is that the surety wants to bond the project but can’t. The new underwriters will be less hesitant than in #4. (So why don’t they just issue a bid bond to help the client get to the next step with another surety? See answer below.) If cash or a check is used, a surety must be arranged to prevent forfeiture.

6. Changing sureties: Handle the same as the short notice situations.

Conclusion

While it’s true bidding with cash or a check is usually an option, it places the contractors funds at risk. Contractors should not consider using cash or a check unless the availability of the P&P bond is confirmed in writing.

Answer to #5: The surety would not want to issue the bid bond if they can’t provide the performance bond, which is the main product of the surety operation. Second reason, if no performance bond is arranged by the client, the bid bond could go into claim. There is little for the surety to gain in this situation.

Note to agents, contractors and other readers: We are not offering legal advice and do not assume to have covered all possible situations in this article. Every bonded contractor should have a good surety attorney to handle such matters.

Want this expertise and creativity on your next Bid or Performance Bond? FIA Surety is a NJ based bonding company that can help! We have specialized in Bid, Performance, Site and Subdivision Bonds since 1979.

Steve Golia is Marketing Manager for FIA Surety.  Call Steve now: 856-304-7348

Visit us Click!

Performance Bonds: How To Avoid Funds Control

Funds Control, Escrow, Funds Administration – are all the same thing, and can be part of the process when a Performance and Payment Bond is needed.

What is it, and how can you avoid it?

Funds Control is an underwriting device used by some bonding companies. The procedure is specifically intended to reduce the risk associated with the Payment Bond aspect of the surety’s exposure. The surety is guaranteeing that suppliers of labor and material will be paid. If they are not, the creditor is entitled to make a claim on the Payment Bond for recovery.

The funds administrator acts as the paymaster on the contract. They pay everyone, including the contractor. Under this arrangement, the contractor is not handling money or disbursing funds. This makes the surety confident that folks will be paid appropriately (thus preventing payment bond claims,) and it also assures that none of the money for our bonded contract is shifted over to support other unbonded projects (an illegal action.)

Now the paymaster doesn’t work for free. They perform monthly checking on the contract status including the billings, they gather lien releases from the vendors, they keep the books on the project and write all the checks on behalf of the contractor. The cost if this may be.5 – 1% of the contract amount, paid by the contractor. Normally it comes out of their profits.

Contractors may be unhappy with the fee, and they always worry about the turn around time to get checks issued by the administrator each month. They need to keep the project moving.

So let’s look at an alternative procedure that doesn’t cost the contractor any money, prevents any possible delay in turn around time… and still protects the surety on the payment bond.

The alternative is to have Joint Checks issued by the obligee. What does this mean?

Joint Checks are issued by the obligee / project owner in the name of the bonded contractor and their vendor. For example, if the contractor owes the lumber yard $20,000, a check is written payable to the contractor and the lumber yard specifically for $20,000. This procedure assures that funds sent to the contractor must end up in the hands of the supplier. Under the normal method of payment, a lump sum check for multiple vendors is sent to the contractor, and everyone hopes the funds will be used appropriately / promptly to pay bills related to the bonded work. Please note: That doesn’t always happen. And when money is mis-directed, a payment bond claim can result.

Conclusion: Compared to Performance Bonds, Payment Bonds are the most frequent area of surety bond claims. When the bonding company needs an extra cushion to assure the proper handling of money, Joint Checking is an alternative to Funds Control that is fast and free for the contractor – and helpful to the surety.

Want this expertise and creativity on your next Bid or Performance Bond? FIA Surety is a NJ based bonding company that can help!  We have specialized in Bid, Performance, Site and Subdivision Bonds since 1979.

Steve Golia is Marketing Manager for FIA Surety.  Call Steve now: 856-304-7348

Visit us Click!

Surety Bonds: How I Voted

Last Tuesday was the big day: 

  • “The most consequential mid-terms of our lifetime!”
  • “Your mid-term vote is a chance to affirm / reject (choose one) the president’s agenda!”
  • “The end of life as we know it!”
  • “Blah-blah-blah!”

I’m not making a joke about voting.  I think it is a privilege.  As citizens of a democracy, we owe it to all who have suffered and died defending this noble right.

So on Tuesday, I awoke bursting with patriotism and planning to cast my ballot.  But I decided to do it differently.  You’ve heard the expression, “Vote With Your feet.” This time I’ll do it!

I identified myself to the voting lady and she sent me to booth #2.  I quickly removed my shoes and socks.  It was hard getting the curtain open.

I entered the booth and reviewed all the choices.  Here it comes.  I steadied myself and placed my big toe on the lever.  I need to flip the lever, slippery, hard to turn it… I got it!

It became easier as I proceeded.  At the end you push a button to register your choices.  My big toe wouldn’t fit so I used the side of my “pinky toe.” Awesome!

I must admit, voting with your feet is harder than I expected, and a lot less fun. Why do people like it so much?  Eventually… it dawned on me what the expression means.  My “foot voting” was a fiasco!

You don’t have to make the same mistake. It’s not too late for you to vote with your feet – the right way.  Choose what’s better for you.  You can do it on Surety Bonds:

  • Circular 570, T-Listed bonds in excess of $10 million
  • Increased commissions
  • Superior, 365 service.
  • Same day response on new submissions.

You can have all this.  You should have it all! Vote with your feet and come over to KIS Surety for all these benefits.  Give us a call with your next Bid or Performance Bond.

Steve Golia, National Surety Director, KIS Surety

856-304-7348