There are three parties to every surety bond agreement, which is a legally binding contract:
- The “obligee” is the state or local agency requiring the surety bond.
- The “principal” is the party required to purchase the bond.
- The “surety” is the company underwriting and issuing the bond.
The obligee sets the required amount of the bond, which is the maximum amount that will be paid out on a claim. The obligee also spells out the conduct required of the principal in order to avoid claims against the surety bond.
Any party who suffers a financial loss because the principal has violated the terms of the bond has the right to file a claim against the bond. The principal is solely responsible for paying all valid claims.
However, the surety will often pay a claim and wait to be reimbursed by the principal. This ensures timely settlement of the claim and gives the principal some time to gather the necessary funds.