surety bond

Get to Know FIA Surety: Bruce Nash

Here is surprising info about Bruce Nash, a key person at FIA Surety.

Nurture vs. Nature.

Bruce didn’t have a choice. His family was married to the lake.

Our Bruce was born in the beautiful town of Lake George, NY and he has two siblings. The main feature of the town is… obviously the lake. 32 miles long, with over 170 islands, this is a gorgeous Adirondack setting. And Bruce’s family had strong ties to it.

The family business was a marina his grandfather founded in 1928. Bruce grew up in the business where he did “everything.” They loved the water, and this meant boating and also sea planes flown on the lake.

Bruce’s grandmother was the first female commercial pilot in Warren County, New York and part of the WAACS (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps) during WWII. Bruce’s grandmother and grandfather both trained pilots before, during and after the war.

This is his grandfather’s 1928 Garwood, “The Jug,” it was the super boat of its day. Some were called “Rum Runners,” because those equipped with V-12 engines could outrun the prohibition era police boats! Bruce’s grandfather was a Garwood dealer and bought it new. Bruce won dozens of awards for maintaining it in its original condition.

Bruce worked three jobs to put himself through college, a graduate of DePaul’s computer programming school in Chicago.

When boating season ends, upstate New Yorkers turn to winter sports. After college Bruce took a position with Bombardier Corp, a snowmobile manufacturer. Over the course of ten years he rose to become Director Systems and Marketing for the U.S. operations in Chicago.

His next employment was with the owners of The Robert Plan (Div. of AIG) where he became President of a boat manufacturing facility located just outside of Nashville, TN. After a few years he moved to N.Y. where he became Sr. VP and Chief Information Officer of their Assigned Risk Auto business. His Robert Plan boss left the firm to become president of FIA’s sister company First MCO, and he enticed Bruce to join him.

He became head of our IT department and is now the President and COO of our sister company First Managed Care Option, Inc. and ActiveCare Scheduling (a PT and Imaging Facility scheduling service.)

Bruce designed a state-of-the-art system for the managed care of auto and workers comp claims – which is the function of First MCO. This rapidly growing business currently employs eighty people and is housed at FIA’s Morris Plains home office.

He also developed a specialized imaging system that allowed FIA to move all its archived and active paper files into one central electronic location.

“IT Geek?” No, not Bruce! Like his grandfather and grandmother before him, he became an aviator. Naturally, this led to skydiving (gulp!). The snowmobile business inspired him to become an accomplished snow racer. He was also a SCUBA diver and moto-cross (motorcycle) racer!

Today, Bruce manages to skip most of the high-risk activities, but he is a Merchant Marine Captain and avid deep-sea fisherman.

Bruce brings great technical skills, plus a bit of “dash” to our FIA family. He is a valued member of the team!

For Site, Subdivision, Bid and Performance Bonds call Steve Golia: 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

CE Rescue!

It’s May and now you’re a month closer to your insurance license renewal…  Your CE rescue is here!

FIA Surety is proud to announce we have re-opened our free Continuing Education program.  You may know, we are an accredited CE provider in NJ and PA, and can provide the free CE course on your premises.

Give us a call to set up your class.  We are now accepting dates in June.  All the proper safeguards will be used to protect the class participants.

Free CE credits from FIA Surety!  Call us: 856-304-7348

Since 1979, FIA has been your dependable bonding company for Site, Subdivision, Bid and Performance Bonds.

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

 

Godzilla Surety

He’s big.  And for Godzilla, that works!

But when you’re dealing with bonding companies, do you want big, or would you rather have responsive, nimble, flexible…?

At FIA Surety, we have had the same senior management staff in place since 1979.  Tons of stability and experience.  Compared to the big “monsters,” we’re a smaller surety. How does that help you?

Example: This week we got in a Site Bond, a type of bond many sureties do not support.  It was a little complicated.  The title to the property changed hands and the names on the documents didn’t match up.  It took some digging but we still approved it within a day. Why?  Because we can.

Nimble.  Responsive.

For some transactions you need Godzilla.  But for many others, you want the flexibility and willingness of FIA Surety.  Call us!

  • Bid Bonds
  • Performance and Payment
  • Site and Subdivision Bonds
  • Deposit Bonds for Home Builders

Steve Golia 856-304-7348
FIA Surety is First Indemnity of America Ins. Co.  (a carrier)
We are currently licensed in: NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, WV, TN,  FL, GA, AL, OK, TX

FREE CE Credits For You!

Here’s some really great news:

FIA Surety is now an accredited Continuing Education provider for the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We have created an Intro to Surety Bonding course that is approved for 3 CE credits.

 

Wait, it gets better… We will provide the course to you FREE OF CHARGE, and for groups of 3 or more, at your NJ or PA location (subject to travel limitations)!!!

Is that possible? 3 free CE credits? Well, yes.  Just complete the attached registration form and email back to us to get on our school calendar.

If you don’t have three or more attendees, you can still get the free CE credits at a seminar held at one of our central locations. Send in the form and we’ll contact you to work out the details.

There! Now tell your colleagues about it.

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

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

First Indemnity of America Ins. Co.

FIA Surety School Registration Form.pdf

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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.

 

 

Secrets of Bonding #166: Meet the Weatherman

Tonight’s forecast: Dark!

We like to joke about the TV weather team: “I wish I had a job where I could be wrong 50% of the time!” *  But in reality, we still tune in and watch.

   Question: Is a surety bond underwriter just like a weatherperson?  How are they similar?

Both are paid to make predictions.  They gather and analyze information: “Crystal ball gazers.”  There is a hope / expectation that they will achieve some degree of accuracy.  Whether you are forecasting the POP, or the completion of a construction project, isn’t it just about the same?

You know forecasters use computer models.  They have the National Weather Service and there are Canadian and European Models.  They could just put that up on the TV screen!  We don’t really need the “local weather talent,” do we? 

What about bonding? Many sureties already use computer based programs.  These provide instant or quick answers on surety bonds that fall into certain categories.  Is that all we need?  Should we get rid of the Surety Underwriter / Weatherman entirely?  We say “No!”  Here’s why…

  • The Underwriter does more than predict the future. A good underwriter contributes to the outcome.  Their efforts positively affect many people. 
  • When bonds are approved, the bond agent makes money.  The construction company achieves new revenues. So do their suppliers and subcontractors.  Think of the ripple effect!
  • The bonding company and their reinsurers make money. 
  • Presumably something of value is built for the owner; a useful asset is created. 

Really good underwriters are more than “yes / no” decision makers, they are facilitators. The experienced underwriter sees a path forward that may not be obvious to others.  How can this deal (performance bond) be supported while protecting the interests of the surety, the guarantor of the project’s success?  Here’s where knowledge, experience and attitude come in. 

Does the underwriter want to make the deal happen, and have the know-how to do it?

These high level underwriters aren’t weathermen, they are Rain Makers!  They work actively to produce profits and success for all they touch. Without their expertise, projects would not be supported and built.  Doors get opened and companies reach new, higher levels of mutual success. 

This is a combination of science and art with a dash of experience.  And you don’t find it too often.  But when you do, grab an umbrella and watch good things happen.

Steve Golia is a long established surety bond provider and expert. Call us with your next bid or performance bond. 856-304-7348 

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*  Actually, weather forecasters average more than 80% accuracy.  Good job guys!

Secrets of Bonding #164: The Phantom of the Underwriting Department

When it comes to surety bonds, you know your underwriter. You know the process.  There are questions and answers, then a decision.  Simple, right?

You rely on your rapport with the surety and know how to monitor the status of the underwriting.  Maybe you understand the underwriter you see.  But what about the invisible surety underwriter, a shadowy phantom who exists in every transaction, and whose opinion always affects the outcome. Call this mysterious one “The Phantom of the Underwriting Department.” 

For mood music, Click!

You cannot talk to the Phantom…

Invisible.

There are no emails, no Q. and A. 

And yet, the Phantom analyzes, reviews and influences every bonding decision.  Let’s pull back the curtain on this ethereal being.

Contractors Questionnaire

It all starts here.  Your underwriter looks at the basic info: How long in business?  Largest prior jobs? What do they do, what do they sub?

But the phantom yearns for more. What company ownership structure was chosen?  Is it a proprietorship, corporation or LLC?  Did the founders make prudent decisions? These choices affect taxes, profits and future liabilities.  They can help or hurt the company… and its surety.

If criminal history, litigation, tax problems or surety bond claims / losses are indicated, these may require further investigation.  The Phantom will make a deeper review.

Continuity of Ownership: Who succeeds the current stockholder in the event of death? Will the company maintain operations and complete its projects? These arrangements show that management has an eye toward the future.

The Work In Process Schedule

These are requested often.  They show the contracts in progress, their billing status and costs. The underwriter wants to know how much “work on hand.” Then, silently, the Phantom digs deeper.

The current expected profit is compared to the original estimate. What does this show? Is the profit expectation as predicted or better? Is the estimating department in sync with the field organization?  Is job site supervision highly efficient? Can an undeclared underbilling asset be added to Working Capital?

Is the expected profit sufficient to produce a net profit at year end?  The Phantom will compare the projected job profit percentage to the company Profit and Loss Statement. Based on historical expense trends, the likelihood of an upcoming profitable fiscal year-end can be verified.

Company Financial Statements

He loves these.  There is so much.  They talk to him. The Phantom takes full advantage of this document to determine more than just “the numbers.”

Beginning with the accountants cover letter, who has the contractor chosen for this important assignment? Are they using a construction expert? Did they pay for a quality presentation?  Is the best accounting method in use? Is the fiscal date at an advantageous point in their business cycle?

Obviously, underwriters look at working capital, net worth, ratios, profitability. But there is so much more.  The financial statements show how the stockholders / managers treat the company.  What does it mean to them? Do they nurture and respect it, growing the tiny acorn into a mighty oak?

Past borrowing practices are revealed.  Also, the relationship between financial performance and the ambitions of management.

Growth of the revenue stream is observed and management’s success in monitoring / controlling expense levels.

The Phantom reviews financial statements and tax returns to appreciate the owner’s commitment to the bonded company.  This commitment is a cornerstone of the underwriter’s confidence.

Banking Relations

Very important! There are similarities between banking and surety bonds.  The banker’s opinions help reaffirm the underwriting position.

The banking history can reveal good cash flow and prudent business practices.  It can indicate stability, reliability and good management skills.

Credit Reports

The pay record is just the tip of the iceberg.

Now there is a historical review which indicates the adequacy of cash flow, the quality of money management, planning and the applicant’s good moral character.

The Phantom is always there, making this deeper analysis that may never be discussed, but can always make a difference.

Meet Our Phantom

Now, Remove the Mask!

Sorry, we don’t actually have any Phantoms.  All our underwriters are regular people, with real experience and know-how when it comes to bid and performance bonds. Our surety professionals review the facts promptly and efficiently. 

Their deep analysis enables us to support opportunities that may have been declined elsewhere.

We hope you found this article entertaining, but more importantly, informative!  With us, the underwriting is deep and detailed, giving the applicant the highest likelihood of approval.

Call us with your next bid or performance bond, and speak to a real person. 856-304-7348 

(Don’t miss our next exciting article.  Click the “Follow” button at the top right.)

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.

Bucket List: Update

Great news!!  Today you can check off one more item from your Bucket List!

Current Bucket List:

  1. Learn to bartend like Tom Cruise in “Cocktail”
  2. Visit Abbey Road in London and re-create The Beatles’ cover
  3. Hug Mickey Mouse
  4. Write my name in wet cement
  5. Bury a time capsule
  6. Ride a Vespa
  7. Find a Bonding Company as Good as I Want
  8. Make a tie dye shirt
  9. Be the house on the block with the most Christmas lights
  10. Try every cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory

Today you can finally check off #7: “Find a Bonding Company as Good as I Want” There are two big questions and we will answer them now.

Question

What do you want from a bonding company? They must have capacity.  If the company is too small, they can only write tiny bonds.  They are of little use to Surety Bond Agents and their Contractor clients.

Good credentials.  The bonds must be widely accepted so contractors can use them on various contracts, in any state.

Flexible underwriting.  The process of getting the bond approved must be willing and aggressive, like the underwriters actually want to write the bond.

Speed.  You can’t wait forever for an answer.  How long should it take the underwriter to respond?  Basically, your Bucket List surety will give you a same day response.

What about speed? Our underwriting expertise originated in the early 70’s!  We have lots of experience solving problems for our clients efficiently and with a same day response.

Hooray!  You nailed #7.  When you need the next bid or performance bond call us: 856-304-7348.

Now, here is a link to help you with #1: Click!

Secrets of Bonding #159: Beware the False Asker

Surety Bond Producers have one main goal: produce the business and move on.

You know there is a process when submitting a surety bond for approval but hate that sick feeling when the underwriter comes back with a ton of questions.  Let’s face it, customers just want to complete the transaction and get on with their lives.  They have more important things to do than fill out forms, scan documents and complete applications.  You know you’ll get push back if you bug them.  

What’s more, the questions may result in a dead end, a declination!  Did the underwriter already form an opinion?  Did they already decide the account is not for them, but just want to complete the file… to have a complete file?

We will call such a person the “False Asker” – an underwriter who puts you through the paces, just to say no at the end.  They never really wanted to write the bond and are developing the file under false pretenses.  They send you on a fools mission.  It is 100% a waste of your time!

Or just maybe, questions are the opposite…  The bond underwriter thinks the account may be a fit, but just needs to check a few more points.  This could be the first step on a successful journey. Here’s more: There may be something wonderful about the questions good underwriters ask.  Let’s explore.

When reviewing the file, the analyst marks off elements of strength and weakness.  For example, the company is 10 years old, but current management has only been in place for a year (a plus and a minus).  Or maybe the net worth is strong, but debt is high resulting in too much leverage.  If there is more good than bad, an approval may be in order – after additional development. 

Now comes the gift: The key points, the underwriting questions, are an insight to the decision making process.  They are keys to the underwriter’s mind.  With favorable answers, authorization may ensue. The questions chart a course that the producer could imagine but not confirm.  In this manner, the underwriting questions are priceless, the keys to success.

Remember, there is room for frustration on the underwriter’s side, too.

Q. Which of the underwriting questions are optional? You know, the unimportant ones?

A. They are all important.

Sometimes we ask 5 Q’s and get back 3 A’s.  Then re-ask the 3 and get back only 2.  It’s like beating your head against the wall…

It all comes down to this:  Beware the False Asker.  You must avoid that person who churns the file and wastes your time.  Every producer has been through it.  You answer questions for two weeks and get a declination they could have figured on day one – and not wasted your time.

A good underwriter only develops an account they intend to support.  They like it and want to proceed, but must tidy up the file. Their Qs are a gift, the path forward, the key to your success if you follow through willingly and diligently.

Judge all of us by our performance:

  • Good underwriters are prompt. For example, our office provides a same day response on all submissions.
  • Are our responses concise and easy to understand?
  • Do we offer a prompt declination or clear path forward, defined by the underwriting questions that will get the deal done?

A good surety underwriter can be your important ally and business partner.  Choose us carefully based on performance, and always Beware the False Asker!

KIS Surety is the national contract bond underwriting department for Great Midwest Insurance Company, a national, corporate surety with an A-8 rating.  We throw all this underwriting talent at your bond opportunities and support contracts up to $10,000,000. 

If you have a contract surety case that needs a fast, creative response, call us: 856-304-7348

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