There are hundreds of kinds of bonds in Arkansas: bail bonds, title bonds, car dealer bonds, to name only a few. The term to “get bonded” refers to surety bonds, which is a three-party contract between the person requiring the bond, known as the obligee; the person who is being bonded, known as the principal, and the person writing the bond, known as the surety.
Determine what kind of surety bond you need. Surety bonds come in many kinds, so it is important to know exactly what kind of bond is required. A bond is somewhat like an insurance policy and somewhat like a line of credit. As with insurance, the principal pays the surety to bond him for a certain amount of money required by his customer, the obligee. This is to ensure that if the principal does not perform in accordance with the laws of Arkansas and pursuant to the agreement or contract, the bond will cover any damages. However, in the case of breech or default -- unlike insurance -- the principal must reimburse the surety for all monies it pays out in claims. So in this sense, a bond is more like a line of credit that must be paid back.
Determine the value of bond you need. For some bonds, the state of Arkansas sets the minimum value required depending on the type of bond. In other cases, the obligee will tell you the amount of bond he requires for the job. The surety will charge you between 1 and 3 percent in a standard market, but adverse financial conditions could cause rates to go as high as 5 to 20 percent.
Choose a surety company that is licensed by the Arkansas Insurance Commissioner. Gather the documents the surety requires to process your application. This varies between surety companies, but typically it includes your identification, personal financial statements, a list of your assets and liabilities and your resume. If applying as a business, the surety will require -- in addition to your personal information -- your business license, business cash flow report, proof of business insurance (including workers’ compensation) and your business’ financial statements.
Fill out the bond application form and submit copies of the documents to the surety company as required. The surety company will run a credit and background checks on you. If the type of bond you are getting is required by the state of Arkansas, the surety company will provide the necessary form to file your bond with the secretary of state. The surety company will contact you as to whether you qualify for the bond, often within three days.
It will strengthen your application if your financial statements are prepared by a certified public accountant (CPA).
Have your application documents neat and well organized. The surety company will make a determination as to your credit worthiness based not only on your credit report and financial condition but also on your professionalism.
If the obligee files a claim against your bond, damages can include legal fees as well as the cost of another contractor to finish the job.
Lisa Dorward was a corporate financial executive and business consultant for more than 15 years before becoming a writer in 2003. She has B.A. degrees in both history and creative writing and earned her M.F.A. in creative writing in 2008, specializing in novel-length historical fiction.