Bid Bonds: An All-in-One Guide

Whether you’re an owner or a contractor, if you are planning on taking on a new project and want to take all of the necessary steps to protect yourself financially, obtaining a bid bond will definitely be on your to do list. In this article, we’ll answer your questions about bid bonds, including what they are, why you need them, and how to get one. We’ll also guide you through the ins and outs of what to look out for when obtaining a bid bond. 

Surety Bond Basics

A surety bond is a three party contract in which one party, the surety, guarantees a second party, the obligee, the successful performance of a third party, the principal. The purpose of a surety bond is to protect public and private interest against financial loss, by both weeding out potentially unqualified obligees and acting as insurance against any unforeseen losses.

What are the different types of surety bonds?

While there are many diverse and niche surety bonds for different situations, there are generally four main categories of surety bonds: contract surety bonds, judicial surety bonds, probate court surety bonds, and commercial surety bonds. These four types of surety bonds all serve different functions and are purchased for different purposes.

Contract surety bonds

The purpose of contract bonds is to incentivize the obligee to agree to a contract with the principal. Sometimes referred to as construction bonds, these bonds are commonly used in the construction industry. Common types of contract surety bonds include bid bonds, performance bonds, payment bonds, supply bonds, maintenance bonds, and improvement bonds required by municipalities.

Judicial surety bonds

Judicial surety bonds are used in court proceedings and are categorized into bail bonds, appeal bonds, mechanic's lien bonds, attachment bonds, and injunction bonds.

Probate court surety bonds

Probate court surety bonds guarantee that appointed trustees, guardians, executors, or administrators will act with honesty, loyalty, and good faith towards beneficiaries. For example, a probate court surety bond could be used to guarantee that the trustee of a recently deceased individual will, in good faith, distribute the assets of the deceased, or in other cases, serve as a legal guardian to the decedent's child.

Commercial Surety Bonds

Commercial surety bonds are an umbrella category, covering a range of bonds that do not fall under the other three categories. License and permit bonds are required by governments for various licenses and permits, while public official bonds may be required for certain public officials. Business service bonds protect business clients from employee actions, while fidelity bonds protect companies and clients against employee embezzlement. Other common types of surety bonds may be used for lost promissory notes, self-insurance, and commercial leases.

What are bid bonds?

A bid bond is a type of surety bond that is typically required during the bidding process for construction projects. It is a form of guarantee that assures the project owner that the bidder will enter into the contract and provide the required performance bond and payment bond if they are awarded the project.

Bid bonds are a crucial aspect of the construction bidding process. Also known as bid security, they provide assurance to the project owner that the bidder has the capability and financial stability to complete the work as per the contractual agreement. In this article, we will go in-depth about how bid bonds work, their significance in the construction industry, and how they benefit both the project owner and bidder.

How do Bid Bonds Work? 

During the bidding process, all potential bidders must provide bid bonds to demonstrate their commitment to the project. Bid bonds guarantee the owner that the bidder has the financial resources and abilities to complete the project as required.

In the event that the lowest bidder fails to execute a contract and withdraws from a project for which they provided a bid bond, the owner of the project may file a bid bond claim against both the bidder and their surety company. Bid bond claims help the owner obtain compensation for the difference in cost it may take to secure the services of the next lowest bidder. This means that if the previous bidder offered a proposal for $100,000 and the next lowest competitor bid was $110,000, the forfeiting bidder may be responsible for the $10,000 difference between the bids, up to the amount of the bond they put up as a guarantee. If the forfeiting bidder does not pay the claim amount and any related attorney fees, they may be pursued by their bid bond company. It is recommended to carefully review your bid bond form beforehand to fully understand the level of liability exposure.

Bid bonds are typically issued by a surety bond company, which is a third-party organization that assumes the risks associated with the bond. The surety company evaluates the financial stability and capabilities of the bidder through a thorough evaluation process. Once the surety provider approves the bond, the bidder pays a premium for the bond which is typically a percentage of the total project amount.

Why are Bid Bonds important?

Bid bonds are crucial in the construction industry because they protect the project owner from financial losses due to a bidder's default. A construction Bid bond guarantees that the bidder has the financial stability, experience, and capabilities to perform the work as required and will not back out of the project. If a bidder fails to complete the work, the bid bond amount will be forfeited to the project owner, allowing them to find a new bidder and complete the project without additional costs.

Moreover, bid bonds encourage bidders to estimate their costs accurately and thoroughly evaluate the project requirements before bidding. It also ensures that all bidders have an equal opportunity to bid on the project without compromising the project's quality. 

Who Needs a Bid Bond?

This type of bond is required by both government departments and general contractors. The bond is needed in contracts involving public construction projects. While sometimes optional for private projects, bid bonds are required by law for public, government sanctioned contractor jobs because they involve taxpayer money and either federal, state, or local jurisdiction. In many cases, if you fail to file the required bond, your bid will automatically be disqualified from the bidding process.

In specific cases where they are allowed, there are a few alternatives for bid bonds, such as cashier’s checks, certified checks, money orders, or other liquid assets that a contractor can put down as a promise that they will follow through on their contract.

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Benefits of a Bid Bond

Bid bonds offer numerous benefits to project owners, as well as offering benefits to the bidder.

Benefits for Project Owner

  • Provides financial security throughout the bidding process. If a bidder fails to follow through the project or goes bankrupt, the project owner will receive compensation through the bid security
  • Allows project owners to evaluate bidders' financial resources and abilities to assess if they can carry out the project requirements
  • Discourages frivolous bidding and ensures that the project owner receives a reasonable and accurate bid.

Benefits for Contractor Bidder

  • Encourages bidders to make more extensive bids and provide more reliable estimates since they guarantee that all bidders will only bid on projects that they can complete fully
  • Project owners will be more assured in projects and more likely to proceed, giving bidders more opportunity for work and perform accordingly
  • Provides a boost to their financial credibility as they have been evaluated by a surety agency

How are Bid Bonds Different From Other Similar Bonds?

Bid bonds and performance bonds are two different types of bonds used in the construction industry. Both are required by project owners to ensure that the contractor completes the project according to the terms of the contract. However, there are several differences between these two types of bonds.

Bid bonds vs. Performance bonds


  1. Both bid bonds and performance bonds serve as guarantees that the contractor will fulfill their obligations as outlined in the bid bond form.

  2. Both types of bonds are issued by a surety agency or insurance company.

  3. Both require the contractor to pay a premium for the bond.

  4. Both may require collateral or an indemnity agreement.


  1. Purpose: A bid bond is issued to guarantee that the contractor will enter into a contract if they are awarded the project. Performance bonds, on the other hand, guarantee that the contractor will complete the project according to the contract.

  2. Timing: Bid bonds are required during the bidding process, while performance bonds are required after a contract has been awarded.

  3. Cost: Bid bonds typically cost less than performance bonds as they are seen as less risky.

  4. Coverage: Bid bonds cover only the bid amount, while performance bonds cover the entire contract price.

  5. Liability: If the contractor defaults on their obligations, the liability for the bid bond falls on the surety or insurance company, while the liability for performance bonds falls on the contractor.

Bid bonds are usually replaced with performance bonds once the contract has been awarded and signed. This is because the performance bond covers the same obligations as the bid bond, but with the added assurance that the contractor will complete the project. In some cases, both bid and performance bonds may be required for a project, in which case they will be in effect simultaneously.

How do I Get a Bid Bond?

The process of getting a bid bond usually involves the following steps:

  1. Find a surety broker. A surety broker is a licensed professional who represents multiple surety companies and can help contractors find the best bond for their needs.

  2. Complete a bond application. A bid bond request will usually include information about the project, the contractor's experience and financial status, and other relevant information.

  3. Underwriting. After the application is submitted, the bid bond company (the surety) will evaluate the contractor's creditworthiness and likelihood of fulfilling the terms of the contract.

  4. Bond issuance. If the contractor meets the surety company's requirements, the surety will issue the bid bond, typically for a percentage of the total contract amount.

Requirements for a Bid Bond

To get a bid bond, contractors must meet certain requirements set by the surety company providing the bond. Construction Bid bond requirements typically include the following:

  1. Proof of financial stability
  2. Good credit history
  3. Record of successful completion of past construction projects

Surety companies will also evaluate a contractor's experience, skillset, and reputation when determining whether to issue a bond.

Where to Get a Bid Bond?

The first step of getting a bid bond is finding a surety broker is an essential and important step to get right when seeking a bid bond. When choosing a surety broker, it's important to consider factors such as reputation, experience, and customer service. A good broker should be knowledgeable about the bond market and able to provide guidance on the best bond for a contractor's needs. It's also important to work with a broker who is responsive and committed to providing excellent customer service. SuretyNow has experts licensed in all 50 states on hand to answer questions 24/7—contact us if you need help with looking for a bid bond!

How Much do Bid Bonds Cost?

The cost of a bid bond varies depending on factors such as the size of the contract and the contractor's creditworthiness.

Like other surety bonds, the price one pays depends on the bond amount—which is the size of the contract—and the premium rate—determined by the contractor's credit and financial history. As always, the price will be the bond amount multiplied by the premium rate.

Price you pay = Bond Amount * Premium Rate

The bond amount for a bid bond is the dollar amount of the contract project bid price. For example, if the project would cost $100,000 to complete by the contractor, the bid bond guarantee amount would be set at $100,000.

Typically, the premium rate for bid bonds can be between 1% and 5% of the total contract amount, although the premium can be up to 10%. Contractors with stronger financials and credit histories may be able to obtain lower rates, while those with weaker financials may pay more. 

After the lowest bidding contractor wins the bid, the bid bond is replaced by a performance bond (sometimes along with other construction bonds). Performance bonds are usually priced with a premium rate of 3% of the bond amount.


Bid bonds are a crucial aspect of the construction industry, providing financial security, promoting competition, and ensuring project owners that the bidder has the financial capabilities and experience to complete the project requirements. They benefit both the project owner and bidder by providing credibility, financial stability, and protection against losses. To ensure that your bidding process runs smoothly, please feel free to contact us to get started on obtaining your bid bond.