The bond business is similar to the mortgage business in that it all starts with access to the products. Whom the customer chooses to guide them into and through the world of surety (or mortgages as a comparison) can be the single most important piece of the puzzle that also happens to be entirely within the customer’s control. Some industry professionals consider themselves to be a “jack of all trades,” but are really a “master of none” (or at least a “master of few”). Others are specialists whose focus, experience and knowledge really add value to the customer’s buying decision. Some insurance agents can and will write any type of insurance that is needed. Surety is a type of insurance (as is life, disability, health, home/auto or commercial lines). Usually, the products that are purchased from people who truly specialize in that specific product type are either better than or less expensive than those purchased from people who handle various types of products. There are thousands of insurance agents out there (some of whom sell surety bonds, too). There are dozens of bond agents out there (some of whom sell insurance as well). Sometimes a customer can purchase a surety bond from an insurance agent and that insurance agent’s bond knowledge, application process, price and service are all no different than what the customer would have experienced by using a bond agent. But more often than not, bond customers find that the price is lower, the process is easier and the knowledge is greater when they choose to purchase their surety bond from a surety specialist. If you’ve had your bond for a while or if you think you might be paying too much because the first answer isn’t always the best answer, you should take a little time to look into something that you pay for year after year after year. Ask your association, your colleagues, or your search engine for recommendations. Find a surety specialist and find out whether your surety bond is costing you what it should be. Mason Grashot, CPA is president of The Bond Exchange, a national insurance agency focused on surety bonds with a unique specialty practice centered on the mortgage profession. As the endorsed strategic partner of NAMB—The Association of Mortgage Professionals, The Bond Exchange services thousands of surety bonds through programs designed specifically for the mortgage industry. For more information, call (501) 224-8895 or visit www.thebondexchange.com.