A mentor, educator and advisor.
The right surety bond agent can be all of the above and, if you’re in the construction business, can make all of the difference in the world.
That’s assuming you’ve hired someone with the right qualifications, an agent with:
- an understanding of the construction industry and the construction management process including estimating, bidding, building and cost control systems, and an understanding of basic credit principles;
- knowledge of construction accounting procedures, the ability to analyze financial statements, work-in-progress, and cash flow.
Only with that background can a surety bond agent then help contractors with what I like to think of as the three Rs: review, referrals and reflection.
– You want an agent who can help you review contracts and identify difficult language that may place undue risk on the company.
– You want a bond agent who knows the key players in the construction environment, and who can refer you to the right contacts, such as construction-oriented bankers, accountants, and attorneys, to help your businesses flourish.
– We all need someone to help us reflect. A bond agent can provide the strategic advice you need to help expand and grow your business. They also can be an ear for someone who needs to talk through challenging decisions to help avert problems before they happen.
So, if you’re looking for a bond agent, make sure you’re considering someone who has real expertise in surety bonding. Not all insurance agents truly know the needs of construction businesses and surety. In fact, most don’t.
You’ll want someone who specializes in surety full-time, not someone who only occasionally places a bond for a client.
You’ll want to ask about their success record with contractors, whether their firm has a claims and risk management department, and whether they’ll review terms and conditions of a contract.
It’s also a good idea to be sure you’re not hiring a “yes” man or woman. Bond peddlers can be found anywhere. What you want is someone who’ll know when to tell you no and has the courage to do so.
Choosing the right surety broker also means finding an agency with broad access to the surety marketplace. So be sure to understand whether they have adequate coverage, or whether they’re doing business with only a limited number of surety companies.
A contractor’s decision to establish a surety bonding relationship is one of the more important business decisions they’ll make. It can lead to more projects and eventually propel your company to the next level. But the first step is to find a surety bond producer you can trust over the long haul.
Tom Patton is a Surety Advisor with CCIG. He sits on the board of directors of the Rocky Mountain Surety Association. Reach him at Tom.Patton@thinkccig.com or 720-330-7922.
CCIG is a Denver-area insurance brokerage with personal and business insurance clients nationwide. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We also help you lower your long-term cost of insurance with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.