On February 19, 2009, Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Thomas R. Sullivan testified before the Connecticut Insurance and Real Estate Committee in support of House Bill 6354, titled “An Act Regulating Surety Bail Bond Agents” (the “Act”). The Act would reform the bail bond industry and allow the Connecticut Insurance Department to better regulate the industry through stronger laws.
The Act establishes requirements for licensing and appointment requirements, solicitation, record retention, reporting requirements, and accounting for premiums. It also specifically addresses the problematic practice of “undercutting,” in which bail bond agents do not charge their clients the full premium amount for the bond. For example, if bail is set for $10,000 with a $1,000 premium, the defendant must pay the full premium. However, in some cases, the bail bond agent will charge only a percentage of that amount, instead of the required full amount to generate business. This practice permits defendants to get out of jail for less money than the bail set by a judge. The Act would require each bail bond agent to certify under oath to the Commissioner of Insurance that the premium for each bond he or she executed was not less than, or did not exceed, the premium rates as filed by the insurer.