Surety_Bonding.jpgWe are Contract and Commercial Surety Specialists

At Gibson, we don’t just dabble in surety – we have an entire practice dedicated to surety bonding. We have surety professionals that understand construction, construction accounting and reporting, surety markets, and surety underwriting.

Our access to surety companies is broad and far reaching – from the top sureties in the world to specialty sureties that focus on hard-to-place bonds. We have strong relationships with the surety underwriters at these companies, which is very important, as the underwriter is the gatekeeper to your surety credit capacity.

Each situation is different. Your needs are unique and important. Our role is to play matchmaker with your needs and the right surety company. Sureties have different likes and dislikes, different risk tolerances, and different opinions on what they will accept to add capacity to your surety program. Some underwrite strictly on the balance sheet – focusing on analyzed working capital and equity positions. Others will take collateral positions.

We help bridge the gap between contractor, CPA, and surety because we understand the business. Let us be your expert guide through the process of obtaining and maintaining the surety credit you need.

Surety 101

  • Surety is not insurance.
  • A surety bond is a guarantee – a financial instrument.
  • Surety is more closely aligned with lending than insurance.

The players and terms

  • Surety Company (Zurich, Travelers, CNA Surety, etc.).
  • Surety Bond Producer/Advisor (Gibson).
  • Surety Bond (financial guarantee).
  • Principal (the contractor or commercial company being asked to perform).
  • Obligee (the project owner or customer).
  • Individual limit (maximum size of an individual bonded job).
  • Aggregate limit (maximum backlog at a given time).
  • Program (individual and aggregate limits, as well as any other parameters).
  • Analyzed working capital (current assets less current liabilities, with certain adjustments).
  • Analyzed equity (total equity, plus or minus any adjustments as deemed necessary).

The Process

  • The Surety Bond Producer (Gibson) works to understand the Principal (contractor).
  • Gibson orchestrates a relationship between the contractor and the Surety.
  • Gibson works with the surety to get a Program established for the contractor.
  • Rates are established by the surety that will be utilized for the bonds on bonded jobs.
  • The surety gives Gibson a line of authority, which establishes parameters under which we can write bonds for the contractor without requiring advance approval.
  • Gibson obtains periodic job and financial updates from the contractor.
  • From the updates obtained, we analyze the information and update the surety periodically on the status of the contractor’s significant jobs, their analyzed working capital and equity, and other pertinent matters.
  • As necessary (typically at least annually), Gibson, surety, and contractor meet and discuss financial status, jobs, and future bonding needs.

Some agents are purely a middle man for issuing bonds. At Gibson, we play a critical role not only in issuing bonds, but in gathering information, assessing financial statements and job schedules, and ultimately telling the right and complete story to the surety. We pride ourselves on a “no surprises” approach to surety underwriting, knowing that neither the contractor nor surety want any surprises.

We understand construction and understand construction accounting – both the practical day-to-day accounting function and also the financial statement requirements that the CPAs must navigate in reporting on a contractor’s financial statements.

Our Expertise

Your bonding program is important, especially in today’s economic times. Our experience and expertise helps you manage the process and get the best program possible with the most favorable terms.

Unlike most other insurance agencies, we don’t just dabble in surety. We have a dedicated team devoted to surety bonding. We are well positioned to effectively manage the surety needs of our clients, from the most straightforward requirements to very complex situations.


Bill Cerney, CPA, CCIFP

Bill is the surety practice leader. He is responsible for overseeing in-house analysis and financial statement underwriting, working with staff and clients on bid requirements and specification analysis, and meeting with clients accountants and surety representatives.


Nikki Bicknell, ASFB, AIS, AINS

Nikki is a Senior Client Manager and is an integral member of Gibson’s surety bonding team. She is responsible for working with Bill to determine overall surety program goals and developing strategies to achieve those goals.