TLDR: One of the most common questions California contractors ask is how much will my contractor license bond cost. Unfortunately, this question has not been answered well. This blog article explores in detail the factors that affect the contractor license bond premium, example premium rate, rate comparison among different carriers, historical price trend of the contractor bond, and some frequently asked questions and answers
Below is an example pricing table based on all the carriers SuretyNow works with.
|Credit Rating||1 Year||2 Year||3 Year|
Note that the table above is the best rate from a number of surety carriers, not a single carrier. No single carrier offers the most affordable rates for all applicants. Depending on the credit score of the applicant, the best surety carrier choice may differ. For example, a candidate whose credit score is in the high 800s may get his or her cheapest rate from Hudson Surety but a candidate whose credit score is in the mid 500s may not even qualify for a bond from Hudson Surety. For this candidate, maybe Merchant Bonding Company can offer the best rate. Therefore, it is crucial to find a surety agent who will obtain quotes from a variety of carriers. SuretyNow is appointed with 10+ surety carriers and we will always present the most affordable rate to our customers.
Given that the contractor bond price (aka bond premium) is the product of bond coverage amount and the rate on the coverage amount, the change in either factor would result in a change in bond premium. The contractor license bond coverage amount is $25,000 for all applicants. The rate on the coverage amount is determined by the following factors:
1. Credit Score
2. Years of Experience
3. License classification
4. Any derogatory information on the applicant
As mentioned above the factors that determine the bond price, below is an example of a rate card of a surety carrier:
Some carriers offer discount options for contractor bonds. Below are some factors that could result in a discount in your bond:
Generally, when annual premiums for contractor license bonds are paid in advance for more than one year, a discount rate is applied to the annual premium. Please see the example below for a multi-year discount program provided by one surety carrier. This basically means if you buy a two-year bond, you can get a 12% discount on the 2nd year premium. If you buy a 3-year bond, you can get a 12% discount on the 2nd year premium and 21% on the 3rd year premium.
|Credit Score Tiers||Carriers||1 Year||2 Year||3 Year|
|Tier 1||Carrier A||$128||$223||$319|
|Tier 2||Carrier A||$128||$223||$319|
|Tier 3||Carrier A||$165||$289||$413|
|Tier 4||Carrier A||$245||$429||$613|
|Tier 5||Carrier A||Declined||Declined||Declined|
As you can see above, for the same credit score tier, different carriers have vastly different rates and no single carrier offers the lowest pricing for all credit score tiers. In fact, some carriers may not accept people of low credit score whereas others can still offer decent prices for the low credit score candidates. It is very important, therefore, to work with a surety agency that is appointed with a lot of carriers because they can find a good rate for you regardless of your credit score.
As mentioned earlier, the price of CA Contractor Bond is a product of the bond coverage amount and the rate on the bond amount. The bond coverage amount is determined by California Contractor State License Board (CSLB) based on the inherent risk involved in every licensee and this amount is uniform across all licensees. However, the bond coverage amount of CA Contractor License Bond has consistently gone up since 2016, reflecting CSLB’s view that the risk involved in each and every licensee has increased overtime. Before January 1, 2016, the bond coverage amount required was $12,500. On January 1 2016, the bond coverage amount was increased to $15,000. On January 1, 2023, the bond coverage amount was increased again to $25,000.
In regard to the rate of the bond, due to the number of claims that have risen over the past few years, surety carriers themselves have suffered many losses from the CA Contractor Bond market. In fact, some carriers, such as Markel Surety /SureTec, left the CA Contractor Bond market completely due to the high loss in their bonds. Many other surety companies raised the rates for each risk category over the years.
Carriers understand bond premiums can sometimes be very high. Therefore, some carriers offer financing options. For example, one carrier offers 30% down payment and 10% per month for the next 7 months.
Yes, it is required to obtain a CSLB Bond. As mentioned earlier, the price of the bond is mainly dependent on your credit score.
No, the credit check is only a soft inquiry, which does not impact your credit score.
The check depends on the carrier. Some carriers will request your credit score from one of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) but others will request your credit score from all three credit bureaus.
Yes, SuretyNow actually gives you a price estimate if you provide us with your credit score.
Effective January 1, 2023, the CSLB contractor license bond and qualifying individual bond amounts increased to $25,000. This change was passed as a part of California Senate Bill 607, which was signed into law September 28, 2021
The best place to find the rate of different surety carriers serff filing. It is a little difficult to find the rates due to the complicated language in it.
Bond Amount / Bond Coverage: aka penal sum, is the maximum amount of financial compensation that the surety company is obligated to pay if the contractor fails to meet their obligations under the terms of the bond. The bond amount is usually set by the California State Licensing Board (CSLB) and is based on the nature of the obligation and the potential financial risk involved.
Premium: premium is the amount of money that a bond is priced at. It is basically the insurance term for price
Surety Carrier: a company that underwrites surety bonds. Surety carriers are typically insurance companies that specialize in providing surety bonds to businesses and individuals.