Tag Archives: Entrepreneur

How Does Risk Management Create Value?

Risk management isn’t just a defensive tactic designed merely to keep something bad from happening. Effective risk management can also be constructive and encourage the creation of something positive. This positivity is a culture of value and self-awareness.

How to create value with risk management

Risk management doesn’t have to be a secondary addition to your business strategy, it can be incorporated into your overall business plan to give you direction and help you make the best decisions.

Balancing risk avoidance activities and responsibilities throughout the company makes it so that everyone is aware of what the risks are and how they are to approach them. Rather than a strategy dictated from up above, risk management becomes more of an open discussion that includes input from multiple areas. Not only is a fully comprehensive view of risk management at work in a company, it’s all-inclusive for management and employees alike.

Risk management allows for risks to become opportunities

Executives and board members are likely to have a much longer list of worries than their average employee would. Especially in the digital information age and with the popularity of social media for example, reputational risk is of real concern to many companies

Managing these types of risks, risks that have many variables, as part of your business strategy allows for large scale projects such as social media monitoring to be broken down into smaller manageable tasks and spread throughout the company. Employees can become more involved in the company’s risk management. It also potentially makes for more effective risk management if employees are encouraged to make suggestions for improvement or development.

Risk management best practice

To best understand how your risk management can bring value to your business, you need to understand how these risks can affect you. Generally they fall into four areas – strategic, operational, financial and compliance. How would your business plan get thrown off? What would loosing the use of a key piece of machinery mean to business? Often times the answers will come from those who would be directly affected by these risks, frontline staff.

Proactively managing these risks not only gives management, but all members of staff piece of mind that risks have been comprehensively assessed.

The value risk management creates can be viewed in many ways. It’s including employees of every level in the protection and management of the company. It’s tying business strategy with risks avoidance and management for efficient planning and strategizing. It’s creating opportunities for everyone to get involved and strengthening the company’s defenses against risk.

If you have risk management questions, click here to ask an expert

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The Value of Surety Bonds

The way project owners evaluate and manage risks on construction projects and make fiscally responsible decisions to ensure timely project completion are crucial to their success. Since private owners cannot afford to gamble on a contractor whose reliability is uncertain or who could end up bankrupt halfway through the job, a surety bond is a great safety net for the investment.

What is Suretyship?

Suretyship is a very specialized line of insurance that is created whenever one party guarantees performance of an obligation by another party.

What is a Surety Bond?

A surety bond is a written agreement where one party, the surety, obligates itself to a second party, the obligee, to answer for the default of a third party, the principal.

Types of Surety Bonds

 1.     Contract (or Corporate) Surety Bond

The contract (or corporate) surety bond provides financial security and construction assurance for building and construction projects by assuring the project owner (obligee) that the contractor (principal) will perform the work and compensate certain subcontractors, laborers and material suppliers, as outlined via their contract. Contract surety bonds include:

  • Bid bonds provide financial assurance that the bid has been submitted in good faith and that the contractor intends to enter into the contract at the price bid and provide the required performance and payment bonds
  • Performance bonds protect the owner from financial loss should the contractor fail to perform the contract in accordance with its terms and conditions.
  • Payment bonds guarantee that the contractor will pay certain subcontractors, laborers and material suppliers associated with the project.
  • Maintenance bonds guarantee against defective workmanship or materials for a specified period.
  • Subdivision bonds make guarantees to cities, counties or states that the principal will finance and construct certain improvements such as streets, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, sewers and drainage systems.

2.     Commercial Surety Bond

Commercial surety bonds guarantee performance by the principal of the obligation or undertaking described in the bond. Commercial surety bonds include:

  • License and permit bonds are required by state law or local regulations in order to obtain a license or permit to engage in a particular business (contractors, motor vehicle dealers, securities dealers, employment agencies, health spas, grain warehouses, liquor and sales tax).
  • Judicial and probate bonds, also referred to as fiduciary bonds, secure the performance on a fiduciaries’ duties and compliance with court orders (administrators, executors, guardians, trustees of a will, liquidators, receivers and masters). Judicial proceedings court bonds include injunction, appeal, indemnity to sheriff, mechanic’s lien, attachment, replevin and admiralty.
  • Public official bonds guarantee the performance of duty by a public official, (treasurers, tax collectors, sheriffs, judges, court clerks and notaries).
  • Federal (non-contract) bonds are required by the federal government (Medicare and Medicaid providers, customs, immigrants, excise and alcoholic beverage).
  • Miscellaneous bonds include lost securities, lease, guarantee payment of utility bills, guarantee employer contributions for union fringe benefits and workers’ compensation for self-insurers.

Who Are the Three Parties That Make Up the Surety Agreement?

  • The principal is the party that undertakes the obligation.
  • The surety company guarantees the obligation will be performed.
  • The obligee is the party who receives the benefit of the bond.

How is Suretyship Similar to Other Forms of Insurance?

  • State insurance commissioners regulate both.
  • They both provide a safety net for financial loss

How is Suretyship Different?

  • In traditional insurance, the risk is transferred to the insurance company. However, in a suretyship, the risk remains with the principal and the protection of the bond is designated for the obligee.
  • In traditional insurance, the insurance company assumes that part of the premium for the policy will be paid out in losses. Yet, in true suretyship, the premiums paid are “service fees” charged for the use of the surety company’s financial backing and guarantee.
  • In underwriting traditional insurance products, the goal is to “spread the risk,” while in a suretyship, surety professionals view their underwriting as a form of credit. Therefore, the emphasis is on the pre-qualification and selection process.

Government Regulations

Since 1893, the U. S. Government has required contractors on federal public works contracts to obtain surety bonds to guarantee that they will perform such contracts and pay certain labor and material bills. The current federal law on federal public works is known as the Miller Act. It requires performance and payment bonds for all public work contracts in excess of $100,000 and payment protection, with payment bonds the preferred method, for contracts in excess of $25,000. Almost all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and most local jurisdictions have enacted similar legislation requiring surety bonds on public works as well. These are generally referred to as “Little Miller Acts.”

While surety bonds are mandated by law on public works projects to protect taxpayer dollars, the use of surety bonds on privately-owned construction projects is at the owner’s discretion. Alternative forms of financial security, such as letters of credit and self-insurance, don’t guarantee performance or payment protection of a surety bond or assure that a contractor is competent.

With a surety bond, the risks of project completion are shifted from the owner to the surety company. For that reason, many private owners require surety bonds from their contractors to protect their company and shareholders from the enormous cost of contractor failure. Subcontractors may be required to obtain bonds to help the prime contractor manage risk, particularly if the subcontractor is completing a significant part of the job or is a specialized contractor who is difficult to replace.

How Do Contractors Obtain a Surety Bond?

Surety bonds are issued through agents and brokers who are knowledgeable about the surety and construction industries. Surety bond agents and brokers usually work for companies that specialize in surety bonds or in insurance agencies that have a sub-specialty in surety bonds.

The professional surety bond agent or broker usually maintains a business relationship with several surety companies, which enables them to match a contractor with an appropriate surety company. Also, a solid surety company and producer will help a contractor maintain and increase its capacity.

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Insurance: As the Entrepreneur Grows

It is no surprise that Entrepreneur magazine named Austin as “one of the nation’s most progressive and proactive entrepreneurial centers” in the nation.  As individuals transform their ideas to reality through a business and operations expand, there are several points to consider from an insurance perspective.

First and foremost, it would be extremely wise to carefully review laws, regulations and especially contracts with your attorney and insurance advisor to make sure any insurance requirements are satisfied and your indemnity is protected.  For example, a lending contract may require a $1 million minimum general liability policy.  There may be other federal, local or industry requirements to consider, but the bottom line is to know what is required.  Likewise, it is important to identify all of your risks and exposures to clearly understand what types of coverage you may need, in addition to what is required.  For example, you may have a pollution exposure that you did not consider which can cost you dearly if you do not have the appropriate coverage.  It is imperative to understand what other types of coverage are necessary to protect your assets, employees and/or business income.  The final piece to consider is the amount of coverage you many need.  In today’s litigious environment $1 million general liability limit would not go very far.  Think back to the 1994 Mc Donald’s coffee case when a woman sued McDonald’s over the hot cup of coffee she spilled in her lap.  This $2.86 million product liability lawsuit is a good reminder of why business’ need to understand what amount of insurance coverage is appropriate.

Much like your CPA and your lawyer, professionals are available to help design a risk management and insurance plan for your company.  Your insurance and risk advisor can help identify what is required, what you need and what limits you should have to protect your business, but more importantly, challenge you to consider your business growth goals, identify risk and obstacles along the way, and develop a plan to help you achieve those goals.  If you are expanding your operations and have questions about commercial insurance or employee benefits be sure to contact the insurance professionals at Texas Associates Insurors.

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