History of the Surety Bond [Infographic]

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Surety bonds existed for thousands of years before Viking Bond opened its doors in 2002. In fact, surety bonds have been around for thousands of years before our modern calendar!

While there is some disagreement over the first documented surety, there are examples of suretyship dating back beyond 2000 B.C. in countries such as Babylon, Persia, Assyria, Rome, and England. Modern suretyship took off in the 19th century to grow into the thriving industry it is today.

Here’s a history of some major events in the history of surety bonding.

Ancient Origins:

2750 B.C.

A Mesopotamian tablet contains the oldest known surety contract. A farmer was set to serve in the army, so he created an agreement with a second farmer to manage his fields, and they would split the profits. A merchant served as the surety, guaranteeing the second farmer’s promises.

2400 B.C.

A surety bond was written on a stone tablet, during the reign of the Babylonian King Dungi. The tablet outlines the surety’s guarantee of the principal’s payment of grain to the obligee. At the time, surety bonds were often created in pairs of two or three by professional notaries with the signatures of four witnesses, whose seals appear on the tablet. The tablet was discovered in 1889 in present day Iraq.

1790 B.C.

The first legal documentation of suretyship appears in the law Code of Hammurabi in Mesopotamia.

670 B.C.

The earliest surviving written surety contract was written.

180 B.C.

The bible discusses suretyship. “An honest man is surety for his neighbour; but he that is impudent will forsake him. Forget not the friendship of thy surety, for he hath given his life for thee. A sinner will overthrow the good estate of his surety: And he that is of an unthankful mind will leave him [in danger] that delivered him. Suretiship hath undone many of good estate, and shaken them as a wave of the sea: and he that undertaketh and followeth other men’s business for gain shall fall into suits.” -Ecclesiasticus 29:14-19

150 AD: The Romans develop the first known laws of suretyship.

Modern History of Surety Bonds


William L. Haskins proposed The New York Guarantee Company – the first surety company in America.


New York passed a law allowing the establishment of corporate surety companies.


Fidelity Insurance Company became the first corporate surety firm in the United States.


Congress passed the Heard Act, requiring surety bonds on all federally funded construction projects.


American Surety Co. V. Pauly becomes the first surety case heard by the Supreme Court.


A surety bond was written against suicide for the first time that we know of.


The Handbook of the Law of Suretyship and Guaranty is published, outlining the fulfillment of sureties.


The Federal Miller Act was passed, requiring performance surety bonds for public work contracts of $100,000 or more, and mandating payment protection for contracts above $25,000.


The National Association of Surety Bond Producers (NASBP) was established. The NASBP is an association of and resource for surety bond producers and allied professionals.


Viking Bond Service was formed by Michael Herraren, creating a “paperless” model for a surety bond provider.


William Belpedio joined Viking, bringing tremendous experience with him.


Thomas Buckner joined Viking, exceptional strength in Contract Surety Bonds (bid, payment, and performance Bonding).


Surety bond providers such as Travelers and AIG pay an unprecedented $900 million settlement to Enron customers.


Viking expanded and moved to our current home office in Deer Valley, AZ.


The Small Business Administration (SBA) enacts the QuickApp application process to provide simpler access to bonds valued at $250,000 or less for companies without established business records.