Explaining What Is a Surety Bond?  - Types, Cost & Coverage

Are you familiar with the concept of surety bonds? If not, you’re not alone. Many people are unaware of what a surety bond is or its importance in many business and personal transactions. If you know about the different types of surety bonds, you can make informed decisions about the right bond for your specific needs.  What is a surety bond? This article will explore the different types of surety bonds, their costs, and coverage. After you finish reading, you’ll understand how they can protect you and your business.

What Is a Surety Bond?

A surety bond is an agreement between three parties: the principal, the obligee, and the surety. It’s more than just a handshake or a verbal agreement. Surety bonds are legally binding.

Here is a brief explanation of the role each party plays in the transaction:


The principal in a surety bond transaction buys the bond. They’re responsible for fulfilling the obligations outlined in the bond agreement. Usually, the principal is a business or individual.


The obligee is the party protected by the bond. If the principal fails to fulfill their obligations, the obligee has the right to file a claim to get the compensation due to them.

Most often, the obligee is a government entity or private organization. The bond is a condition of doing business with the principal.


Surety is the company or entity that guarantees the bond. The surety compensates the obligee if the principal doesn’t fulfill their contractual obligations.

Surety bonds give financial protection to the obligee and the surety if the principal defaults. The obligee will need to make a claim to receive compensation at that point. The surety investigates the claim and will compensate the obligee if the claim is founded.

Different Types of Surety Bonds

Surety bonds are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Different types of surety bonds exist to meet various needs. Here are some of the most common types of surety bonds:

Commercial Surety Bonds

Commercial surety bonds cover various types of business transactions and obligations. These bonds ensure a business complies with all state and local regulations. Commercial surety bonds don’t cover construction projects outside of construction.

License and Permit Bonds

Some states and municipalities require a license and permit bond to conduct certain businesses. The bond ensures that the business will follow applicable laws and regulations.

Court Bonds

Court bonds guarantee that individuals will fulfill their legal obligations, such as appearing in court or paying fines. Examples of court bonds include bail, appeal, and fiduciary bonds.

Fidelity Bonds

Fidelity bonds cover losses due to employee theft or fraud. These bonds are commonly used in financial institutions and other businesses where employees can access valuable assets or information.

Understanding the different types of surety bonds is crucial in selecting the right one for your needs. Consult a reputable surety bond provider to decide which bond best suits your situation.

Another Type of Surety Bond

Contract surety bonds, also known as construction bonds, are surety bonds used in the construction industry. These bonds are between the principal (the contractor), the obligee (the project owner), and the surety company.

This surety bond guarantees that the contractor fulfills their obligations under the construction contract. There are several types of contract surety bonds, including:

  • Bid bonds
  • Performance bonds
  • Payment bonds

Contractors submit bid bonds during the bidding process. A bid bond assures the project owner that the contractor will enter into a contract and provide the required services and payment bonds if awarded the project.

Performance bonds assure the project owner that the contractor will complete the project according to the specifications and within the agreed-upon timeline. Payment bonds assure that the contractor will pay subcontractors, suppliers, and other parties involved in the project.

If the contractor fails to fulfill the obligations of any of these bonds, the surety company handles compensation to the project owner up to the bond amount.

How Much Do Surety Bonds Cost?

The cost of a surety bond varies. Several factors decide the cost, but the type of bond and the required amount of coverage carry significant weight. Other factors may come into play, too.

Here’s a closer look at each of the factors that impact the cost:

Type of Bond

Different types of surety bonds have different rates. For example, a bid bond usually costs less than a performance bond since the risk of default is lower.

Coverage Amount

The cost of a surety bond increases as the amount of coverage required increases. This is because a larger bond is a higher risk for the surety.

Principal’s Creditworthiness 

The creditworthiness of the principal is a significant factor in determining the cost of a surety bond. A principal with a good credit history and a strong financial standing will usually pay lower rates than one with a poor credit history.

Duration of the Bond

The longer the bond duration, the higher the cost will be. This is because the surety takes on more risk over an extended period.

To calculate the cost of a surety bond, you can use the bond amount and the rate expressed as a percentage. For example, if you need a $100,000 bond with a rate of 2%, the bond cost would be $2,000.

What About Coverage?

In terms of coverage, a surety bond provides financial protection to the obligee up to the bond amount. The amount of coverage provided by a surety bond depends on the specific type of bond and the terms of the agreement between the principal, the obligee, and the surety.

The surety sets the coverage amount when they issue the bond. The risk involved in the transaction determines the amount. The government agency that requires the bond sets the coverage amount for license and permit bonds.

Here’s an example of coverage for a contract surety bond. The coverage amount may be set as a percentage of the total project cost, usually between 5% and 20% of the project cost.

Even though the surety covers the amount of the bond if the principal defaults, the principal is still responsible for repaying the surety for any amount paid out.

Reach Out to Us for More Information

Surety bonds are vital in various industries, providing protection and security to parties involved in contractual agreements. Understanding the types, costs, and coverage of surety bonds can help you make informed decisions when seeking or issuing one.

We’ve answered one of the most pressing questions people unfamiliar with bonds ask—what is a surety bond?

To learn more about surety bonds and their significance, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Palmetto Surety Corporation. Our team is always happy to help you!