Date Published: October 6, 2014

Performance and Payment bonds are a valuable tool for both public and private construction projects.  In public works, the bonds are usually required by law. This is because it a sub contractor or supplier cannot place a lien on public property, a remedy that is available for private construction projects.

Public Works Need Performance Bonds

Public Works Jobs Require Payment Bonds

If the owner on a private construction project requires a performance and payment bond, that owner then has a third party guarantee that the project will be delivered per the plans and specifications, lien free.  So what happens when subs and/or suppliers do not get paid on a bonded job? the payment bond is there specifically to make sure everyone that is due to get paid gets paid, at no additional cost to the taxpayers (Public works projects)  or project owners (private projects).  A payment bond is a third party (a large insurance company) guarantee that subcontractors and suppliers will get paid what  they are due. So how does one make a claim?

  • Find out what company provided the bonds. On a public works project, this is public information and should be easy to obtain by contacting the entity that the work is for, like if it is a Department of transportation job, contact that department. If its a private job, ask the owner.
  • After you find out the name of the bonding company, spend a few minutes online to see if you can find a phone number for SURETY CLAIMS. If you can’t find that, look for a local office and call them. Still can’t find a number, ask your insurance agent. Especially an agent that specializes in surety bonds can track down the information needed to make a claim.
  • Provide detailed information. A copy of the sub contract or purchase order, detailed information on when the work was done and when payment was expected and information.

Legally the surety company has to investigate the claim.  The surety will contact the principal (party that the bond was required of) and inform them of the claim. If it is determined that the principal does in fact owe the money and is not able to make the payment, the surety company will have no choice and will have to settle the claim.

Tips, keep it simple. Don’t try to “pad” the claim with items you would not expect to paid by the general contractor. If the surety has to wade through a claim and determine what is legitimate and what isn’t, this will slow the process.  Try talking tot he principal (usually a general contractor) first.  Often times there are legitimate issues leading to the non payment. Finally make sure you are within the lien period to file your claim.  This period varies but can be as short as 60 days from when the work was completed.

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