Commercial Surety & Bonding Guide

Commercial Surety (aka bonding) is one of those things that I’ve come to realize that typically only bigger businesses are familiar with. As a result, it’s created a barrier to entry for smaller businesses who want to pursue larger jobs. It’s important for smaller companies to educate themselves on surety so that when larger projects present themselves and ultimately require it, they don’t have the walk away with their tail between their legs.

Below is a brief, 100-level guide on surety bonds, an essential component of risk management for businesses. Understanding the various types of surety bonds is crucial for navigating the complex landscape of project management, legal compliance, and financial protection. In this article, we’ll explore the key types of surety bonds that every business should be familiar with. If you’re looking for a more in-depth explanation on commercial surety, our friends at ABC have a pretty lengthy presentation here.

License and Permit Bonds

Businesses across various industries often encounter license and permit bonds as part of regulatory compliance. For most people reading this, I’d be willing to bet this is one type of bond you’re very familiar with. These bonds are required to obtain and maintain licenses or permits, ensuring businesses adhere to applicable laws and regulations. From contractors to professionals like plumbers or electricians, obtaining the necessary license and permit bonds is a fundamental step in legal compliance. Essentially, license bonds are where most businesses knowledge of commercial surety ends.

Bid Bonds

For businesses engaged in competitive bidding processes, bid bonds play a pivotal role. These bonds provide assurance to project owners that successful bidders will honor their bid and execute the contract. Bid bonds protect against the risk of contractors backing out after winning a bid, fostering trust in the bidding process and maintaining integrity within the industry. In general, these bonds are typically less expensive and more transactional as it’s not as much of a risk for the project owner. (Trust me, there’s plenty of other bidders out there who will be happy to take your place!)

Payment Bonds

In the construction and contracting realm, payment bonds are indispensable. These bonds safeguard subcontractors and suppliers by ensuring they receive timely payments for their services and materials. Overall, payment bonds contribute to the smooth flow of funds within a project, mitigating financial risks and promoting fair and ethical business practices. As a subcontractor, you know how difficult it can be waiting for 30-, 60-, or even 90-days for payment. This type of bond is a way to guarantee that you receive your payments in a timely fashion so that you can avoid any cash flow issues.

Performance Bonds

Performance bonds are a way for project owners to guarantee that the work they’re hiring for is completed and if not, they will be compensated appropriately. Whether in construction, real estate development, or other industries, businesses often require performance bonds to guarantee project fulfillment. These bonds protect all stakeholders involved in the project, providing financial security and ensuring contractual obligations are met. The requirements for these bonds typically include limits to account for the total dollar amount of the job you are completing. To qualify for performance bonds, surety companies require you to undergo a financial underwriting process.


In conclusion, commercial surety bonds are a diverse and critical aspect of risk management for businesses. Whether navigating complex projects, competitive bidding environments, or regulatory landscapes, understanding the types of surety bonds available is key. As you assess your business needs, remember that each bond serves a specific purpose in safeguarding your interests and those of your stakeholders.

Optimize your risk management strategy by working with knowledgeable surety bond agents who can guide you in selecting the right bonds tailored to your business requirements. For more insights and assistance with surety bonds, reach out to our expert team.