A common misconception of bonds is that they are all considered surety bonds, but this is not the case. Bail bonds, treasury bonds, investment-grade corporate bonds, junk bonds, foreign bonds, mortgage-backed bonds, and municipal bonds are completely different than surety bonds. Bonds acting as a financial investment pay out agreed upon interest payments to the bond holder, often referred to as the “creditor”. Once the bond matures, the principal (borrowing entity) pays the face value of the bond. Bail bonds have two parties, the court and the defendant, and have the most similarities to surety bonds as they are guaranteeing that the defendant will show up in court. Investment bonds can be sold on secondary markets and publicly traded. However, surety bonds have a three-party structure with a principal, oblige, and surety. Surety bonds are used to guarantee the completion of construction projects, that a business will conduct themselves in accordance to local and federal laws, or fulfill requirements set forth by special courts such as a probate court.
A surety bond producer or agency typically will not issue bail bonds, investments bonds, or municipal bonds. Surety bonds are more similar to insurance products and are sold by surety brokers and agents who are typically affiliated with an insurance company or brokerage. Surety carriers are often the same as commercial insurance carriers. Despite the similarities, surety bonds are not the same as insurance products but are sold by insurance agents. Most insurance agents are unaware they only need a P&C license to earn commission off surety bonds. Most surety bond clients (referred to as the principal) are unaware their commercial insurance agent can sell them the surety bonds they are required to have. This often leads to the principals having to purchase their insurance from their insurance agent then searching for a surety bond broker or agent to purchase their bonds.