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What's New: Advocacy

SFAA Promotes the Value of Bail Bonds in Response to U.S. Senators’ Inquiry

Thursday, August 23, 2018  

SFAA Promotes the Value of Bail Bonds in Response to U.S. Senators’ Inquiry

SFAA responded to a letter that Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent to insurance companies asking for their financial data, such as bail premiums, fees, and profits, as well as underwriting practices and procedures for supervising of bail agents. Our letter emphasized that bail companies are insurance companies subject to substantial state regulation through licensure with the state insurance departments, financial standards, exams, reporting requirements, and rate regulation, among several other kinds of regulations. Bail agents are subject to licensing and other regulatory requirements from the state insurance departments to ensure their compliance with the applicable law and regulations. As an example, we highlighted the regulatory requirements for bail in the Senators’ home states. SFAA noted that the insurers’ financial reports are required by law and are publicly available. Given the level of state regulation and supervision of insurers and bail agents, we advised the Senators that any additional layer of federal regulation would be duplicative and cumbersome.

SFAA also promoted the value of bail bonds as an instrument that aids in the administration of justice and that can provide pre-trial liberty to the defendant before his or her guilt is determined. Bail insurers provide a benefit to the public by providing security that the defendant will appear in court. Insurers or the agent may be subject to sanctions if the defendant fails to appear. Defendants also have a strong financial incentive to appear in court as the agent often obtains collateral or indemnity from the friends and family of the defendant. Agents provide a valuable service by monitoring the defendant and attempting to recover him or her if the defendant does not appear in court. These costs are borne by the defendant so that the taxpayers are not on the hook for these costs as they would be under a pre-trial services system run by the government. We offered to discuss our comments with the Senators and their staffs.

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