Due to today’s turbulent economy, protecting your capital must be at the forefront of your mind. Whether you are a business owner with dozens of projects to oversee or just an average joe who wants to make sure that their assets are well-guarded, you might have come across the terms “insurance” and “bonding.” Since surety bonds are technically regarded as a type of insurance, the difference between them may not be as clear-cut as it should be. However, insurance and surety bonds have completely different uses, so if you want to know which to invest in, read on to discover more.
Perhaps the biggest difference between insurance and surety bonds lies in the contract that the parties have to sign. An insurance policy is an agreement that binds two parties: the insurer (insurance company) and the insured (the person who pays an agreed-upon sum, a premium, to protect their assets). On the other hand, a surety bond is an agreement that involves three parties: the principal, the obligee, and the surety company.
As per this contract, the surety company guarantees that the principal will fulfill the obligee’s duties. If the principal defaults, the surety company compensates the obligee and covers any damages. However, the principal must reimburse the surety company by paying back the cost of such damages later. Surety bonds are usually used within business and construction projects to meet some contracts’ requirements. At the same time, most people purchase insurance as a safety net that ensures financial stability and asset protection.
Because insurance and bonds have various uses, it only makes sense that they both have a wide array of options. The types of insurance policies and surety bonds can be summarized as follows:
Contract Surety Bonds
When it comes to construction projects, most business owners rely on independent contractors to get things in order. Nonetheless, it can be hard to ensure that the contractor will actually carry out the project specified in the contract. Some investors also worry about hiring irresponsible contractors who may leave projects unfinished. This is where contract surety bonds, also known as performance bonds, come into play. In this case, the investor, the obligee, is reimbursed by the surety company if the contractor, the principal, fails to meet their obligations.
Commercial Surety Bonds
Commercial bonds are another variety of bonding. The difference is that most business owners do not seek them out to ensure the protection of their interests but rather to comply with the law’s requirements. Suppose you are dreaming of running your own company one day. In that case, you must have a commercial surety bond to guarantee that you, the principal, will follow the government’s regulations and codes to protect the public, the obligee. Liquor stores and car dealerships are two examples of businesses that cannot operate without commercial surety bonds.
Fidelity Surety Bonds
If you hire many seasonal employees, it can be too time-consuming to do a background check on each of them to ensure good conduct and honesty. Relying on good faith alone is also not an option. This is why a fidelity surety bond is a must-have. This type of agreement helps business owners rest assured that their employees will never indulge in theft or embezzlement, which is a big concern for personnel who directly handle their company’s capital.
Court Surety Bonds
Court surety bonds also have many subcategories, which makes them relevant to guardians and defendants alike. Suppose you are the guardian of an older person, a minor, or a disabled individual. In that case, you will be required to have a guardianship bond as proof that you will handle the other party’s assets justly and sensibly. On the other hand, defendants who cannot pay the bail sum out of their pocket can use bail bonds, as they can cover just 10% of the amount as long as they stand before the court when their cases go to trial.
Considering the United States’ health system, paying out of one’s pocket for medical services may be too costly for many people. For this reason, most of them opt for health insurance policies. Based on the policy they agree to, the insured has to pay only an agreed-upon percentage of their medical costs while the insurance company covers the rest. The higher the premium the insured pays, the better coverage they get. So, if your annual medical needs are too expensive, you need to offer a high premium to take full advantage of the policy. Otherwise, your insurance is not going to make a dent in your medical bills.
Most states recognize car or auto insurance as an important requirement for driving a vehicle. By purchasing this type of insurance, your insurance company will be responsible for reimbursing you if your vehicle gets stolen, or you get into an accident, and your car ends up needing expensive repairs. Moreover, auto insurance saves you the trouble of dealing with long-winded lawsuits that may be filed against you if another driver sustains severe injuries because of you. In this case, the insurance company should cover their medical bills.
Buying a house is not a cheap investment. In fact, you may have to save for years or apply for a mortgage to purchase one. After buying your dream house, you may be concerned about the cost of repairing it should a natural disaster hit or a fire erupts out of the blue. You might also want to ensure that you get compensated in case your possessions are stolen. Homeowners insurance helps you assuage all these concerns by guaranteeing that you get fully or partially reimbursed for any damages that happen to your house. Furthermore, suppose someone is injured on your premises. In that case, you do not have to worry about them filing a case against you or demanding that you pay their medical bills, as the insurer is responsible for compensating them.
As you can glean from our in-depth comparison, bonding and insurance are vastly different concepts. Depending on your needs, you may end up requiring either. In any case, you must understand what you agree to before signing any contract to avoid legal problems that may arise down the line. This is why we recommend consulting an expert insurer and discussing the matter with the other parties before making a decision.