SuretyBonds.com offers free t-shirts for Surety Bond Processor Appreciation Week

The SuretyBonds.com team in the 2013 Processor Appreciation Week t-shirts

The SuretyBonds.com team in the 2013 Processor Appreciation Week t-shirts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here at SuretyBonds.com, several moving parts must work together for us to continue to serve our clients with the high level of quality they’ve come to expect. A large part of the SuretyBonds.com bonding process falls on the shoulders of our account processors. Other surety agencies might call these professionals underwriting assistants or something else. No matter what the position is called, we here in the surety industry know that it can often be a thankless job.

That’s why the SuretyBonds.com team designates an entire week each year to show our own processors how much we appreciate all of the hard work that they do. This year, that week is April 21-25, which conveniently coincides with Administrative Professionals Day. For the second year in a row, we’re inviting our fellow surety professionals to get in on the fun. How? By offering free t-shirts that only us in the surety industry would understand!

We’ve committed to 50 t-shirts this year, and we’re giving them away 100% for free. The only requirement is that you work for a recognized surety company. All you/your employees have to do is go to this link: http://woobox.com/yvzeuo

Fill out the short form, and we’ll mail the shirts to your office as Processor Appreciation Week gets closer. We’re not collecting extra information or anything for ourselves. There’s no cost to you or your employees. It’s just about having some fun in an industry that most people know nothing about. Hopefully your office hasn’t blocked Facebook. If so, your employees might need to sign up on their own time.

Feel free to share the link with your employees and pass it on to other industry professionals, whether or not SuretyBonds.com works directly with them. Any and all surety professionals are welcome and encouraged to join in the fun.

Stay tuned for a recap of SuretyBonds.com’s Processor Appreciation Week celebration. If you have any questions or concerns or want advice on what to do for YOUR appreciation week, don’t hesitate to email Sara (at) SuretyBonds.com (dot) com. If you and your processing team take part in our t-shirt giveaway, send photos to the same email address. We’d love to feature them on the SuretyBonds.com Facebook page and right here on the Surety Bond Insider.

Why the surety industry should pay attention to P3s

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With states always looking for new and better ways to fund infrastructure projects, public-private partnerships are on the rise.

At their most basic level, P3s generally allow governments to either fully or partially outsource public service projects to private companies. While the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships preaches the accountability of private companies that enter into P3 contracts, the Surety and Fidelity Association of America (SFAA) remains slightly more cynical.

According to the 2012-2013 SFAA Annual Report, the “SFAA’s position is that this is just another method of project delivery and that the construction portion of the project needs to be bonded under the Little Miller Act.” The Little Miller Act, based on the Miller Act, essentially requires state contractors to post performance bonds.

The SFAA’s argument is this: private companies entering into business with public entities via P3 construction contracts should still post surety bonds to prove accountability to the general public. Existing P3 laws do not favor the surety industry. As it stands now, many states do not have bond requirements for P3 agreements.  Because of this, the SFAA has placed an increasingly significant emphasis on amending P3 legislation.

The SFAA has dictated that “if such legislation would allow alternate forms of security and/or less than 100% bonding, SFAA works to amend these bills so that the construction portions of these projects are bonded and the alternative security provisions only apply to non-construction obligations.”

For instance, the Virginia Senate passed Virginia HB 311 on March 3, 2014. This bill addresses user fees under P3 agreements, among other portions of the Commonwealth’s transportation code.

According to SFAA’s March 21 report “P3 Legislation Moving Slowly in Short Sessions,” the organization has its eyes and hands on legislation in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The report also indicates that legislation affecting P3s in Arkansas, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York will spring up next year.

Surety professionals should keep a close eye on the SFAA’s actions in the P3 realm because states will enact more and more bond requirements over the course of the next few years.

To get a better understanding and perspective of the increasingly popular public-private partnership trend and how it affects the surety business, view the SFAA’s Frequently Asked Questions About P3s.

Pennsylvania considers surety bond requirement for debt settlement service providers

Financial ProblemsIn December, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed SB 622, the contents of which detail a proposed licensing process for debt settlement service providers.

According to the Chapter 3, Section 2, Subsection 2 of the engrossed bill, all debt settlement service providers would have to post a $25,000 surety bond to comply with the requirements of obtaining a license.

In addition to the price requirement, the small surety bond section within the proposed bill also states the following:

“The surety bond must run to the Commonwealth for the benefit of the Commonwealth and of an individual who resides in this Commonwealth that agrees to receive debt settlement services from the provider. Payment of surety bond must be conditioned upon noncompliance of the provider or its agent with this act.”

This allows consumers who receive services from the debt providers in question to utilize the bond for civil action. Click here for more information about how surety bonds work.

The Senate referred the engrossed version of the bill that passed the Pennsylvania House to its Commerce committee on December 16. The committee’s first and only vote of the year occurred on March 18, when it re-referred SB 1077 to the Consumer Affairs Committee. No further meetings are scheduled at this time.

Check back with the Surety Bond Insider for the progress of this bill.

If you need a surety bond in Pennsylvania or any other state, contact SuretyBonds.com online 24/7 or by phone at 1 (800) 308-4358 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. CST. You’ll be connected with an expert surety specialist who will walk you through each step of the bonding process.

Small Business Success Student Scholarship Program applications due tonight, March 31

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Today is the final day to submit an application for the SuretyBonds.com Small Business Success Student Scholarship Program. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. CST tonight (Monday, March 31, 2014).

Applying is easy! If you’ll be a full-time college student during the fall 2014 semester and have small business ownership experience whether personally or through a parent, grandparent or legal guardian, you’re eligible to win one of three $1,500 scholarships to put toward your college education. Simply fill out our online application and share your small business story with us!

The top 10 finalists will be contacted during the month of April. Voting via the special SuretyBonds.com Scholarship Facebook App will take place from May 1-31. Finalists are encouraged to share the link to the voting app with their friends and family to boost votes. The three finalists with the most votes will be announced as the winners of the SuretyBonds.com Small Business Success Student Scholarship Program on June 3, 2014. Each winner will receive a one-time scholarship check in the amount of $1,500 to put toward their higher education endeavors.

SuretyBonds.com understands the value small businesses add not only to our economy but also to the communities we live and work in. So, to show our appreciation, we’re paying it forward by establishing a nationwide scholarship program to reward students who have personal experience with small business. We’re grateful for the opportunity to help the future entrepreneurs of America fulfill their education goals.

Visit the SuretyBonds.com scholarship site here, and apply for the scholarship here. Meet the 2013 scholarship recipients here, and read more about this opportunity here. Good luck!

Surety Bonds 101: ERISA surety bonds

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Recently, SuretyBonds.com has received an increase in requests for ERISA surety bonds. To help our clients along in the bonding process, here’s a brief explanation of these bonds and a look at what’s in store for ERISA bonds in the coming year.

ERISA is short for Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and ERISA bonds are required under federal law for anyone who has a type of ERISA plan, including 401ks, pensions and retirement accounts.

Individuals appointed to oversee and manage these plans are called fiduciaries. Individuals or fiduciaries with ERISA plans are legally required to maintain a surety bond for 10% of those assets. Failing to maintain a surety bond puts you out of compliance with federal laws, which could result in fines and penalties. If you become a victim of embezzlement involving assets of your sponsored benefits plan, you could end up paying for the loss out of your company or personal funds if you’re not bonded.

According to Putnam Investment’s Defined contribution legal and regulatory update published in January of this year, the Department of Labor (DOL) plans to do the following in 2014:

  • broaden the current definition under “ERISA” with respect to the rendering of investment advice to plans and participants
  • amend the rules under ERISA section 408(b)(2) to require service providers to furnish a guide or similar tool to assist plan fiduciaries in understanding the fee and service disclosure documents that are provided to them
  • begin reviewing whether new rules and guidance on ERISA fiduciary standards for self-directed brokerage accounts are appropriate

SuretyBonds.com can issue ERISA bonds quickly, easily and accurately. ERISA bonds written for $500,000 or less can be issued without a credit check, which means a poor credit score won’t affect your ability to get bonded. Ready to get bonded? Contact SuretyBonds.com online 24/7 or by phone at 1 (800) 308-4358 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. CST.

Learn more about ERISA surety bonds here. Stay tuned for updates pertaining to these bonds here on the Surety Bond Insider.