There are moments that arise, such as retirement or a new business pursuit, that could cause a bail bond agent to close their bail bond agency. This article provides general guidelines to bail bond agents who are closing a bail bond agency location.
Notify each surety company that you represent of your intention to close the bail bond agency. Be sure to obtain formal guidance on the proper handling of your agency’s records, including unused powers and the collateral in your possession for the bail bonds issued for their company.
Send a letter to us advising the date your bail bond agency will close, the location of your agency’s files, the location of the collateral being held on the bonds written and an explanation of how consumers will receive the return of their collateral at the conclusion of their cases. This should be done within 10 days of the closing. The letter may be mailed with the primary bail bond agent designation form DFS-H2-1541 as you will need to delete the designated primary bail bond agent for the agency as well. [s. 648.387, F.S.]
On a related matter, a bail bond agent must notify us within 10 working days if you change your name, residence address, principal business street address or mailing address, e-mail address, or contact telephone numbers. This is quickly and easily done by logging in to your MyProfile account. Alternatively, this is done with form DFS-H2-1564. [s. 648.421, F.S.]
You can download forms from our web site, www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/Agents/Licensure/Forms. Any completed form should be submitted to the address or fax number listed on the form.
Mail a notice to each customer (defendants and indemnitors), advising them of the closing of the agency and whom they can contact regarding their bonds. If the managing general agent (MGA) or surety company has not yet approved a new servicing agent, then the notice should direct your customers to contact the MGA or surety company. The notice should include an office telephone number for the servicing agent or surety company.
Notify the department’s Division of Consumer Services of your agency’s closing in the event your customers contact them. You can do this by going to AskFLDFS and selecting "Consumer Services" as the recipient.
It is important to keep all bank accounts active until all outstanding checks have cleared. Checks returned due to insufficient funds will likely trigger a formal investigation by the Florida Department of Financial Services concerning the proper accounting and remittance of fiduciary funds. Reminder: Section 648.295, F.S., prohibits withholding moneys belonging to others in the conduct of business under a bail bond license issued by the department. [s. 648.295, F.S.]
Florida law requires every licensee to preserve books, accounts and records pertaining to a premium payment for at least three years after after the liability of the surety has been terminated. Any agent closing a bail bond agency must make provisions for the records to be available for inspection in accordance with law. You can comply with the law by transferring the files to a new servicing agent or returning the files to the appropriate surety company. Keep detailed records of any files you have transferred. Do not throw documents containing confidential or personal information into the garbage without following the appropriate destruction methods. [s. 648.36, F.S.]
Any lease or rental agreement entered into by you for conducting your agency business likely remains binding until both parties agree to end the contract. Closing the agency doors and not returning to the location does not end your obligation to pay rent. This is true of all rental agreements, including those for computers, postage machines, copiers, telephone systems and fax machines. You are responsible for paying all utility bills until the utility company terminates or transfers the account. If you have any questions regarding these matters, seek private legal counsel.
Florida Statute sections
648.285 Bond agency; ownership requirements
648.29 Build-up funds posted by bail bond agent
648.295 Reporting and accounting of funds
648.36 Bail bond agent's records
648.41 Termination of appointment of temporary bail bond agents
648.44 Prohibitions; penalty
648.441 Furnishing supplies to unlicensed bail bond agent prohibited
648.442 Collateral security
648.45 Actions against a licensee; suspension or revocation of eligibility to hold a license
648.571 Failure to return collateral; penalty
Florida Administrative Code rules
69B-221.095 Soliciting Business
69B-221.110 Premium Shall Be Term Charge; Premium Refund; When
69B-221.145 Use of Credit Cards and Cash Advance Facilities in Conjunction with Issuing Bail Bonds
You can find all this information, and more, online, such as the Florida Statutes and Administrative Code (rules). Our web address is www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/Agents. Be sure to check out the various Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) including ones specifically for bail bond agents and agencies. If you have any questions regarding these procedures, you can send an e-mail to BailBond@MyFloridaCFO.com.