Surety Bonds 101: ERISA surety bonds

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Recently, 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 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 online 24/7 or by phone at 1 (800) 308-4358 Monday through Friday between 7 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.