Do you have the statutorily required ERISA fidelity bond in place? The first of the year is a good moment to review your compliance checklist! Federal ERISA section 412 and related regulations (29 C.F.R. § 2550.412-1 and 29 C.F.R. Part 2580) require that every fiduciary of an employee benefit plan and every person who handles funds or other property of such a plan, be covered by a bond. ERISA’s fidelity bonding requirements are intended to protect employee benefit plans from risk of loss due to fraud or dishonesty on the part of persons who ”handle” plan funds or other property. The ERISA bond must be equal to at least ten percent of the amount of funds he or she handles, subject to a minimum bond amount of $1,000 per plan with a maximum of $500,000, EXCEPT for those plans containing non-qualified assets. DON’T IGNORE THIS OBLIGATION. The Department of Labor can easily monitor whether the ERISA fidelity bond requirements have been met. Plan sponsors and administrators are obligated to file a federal Form 5500 annually, which asks specifically if the plan is bonded and the plan’s dollar amount. Civil AND criminal penalties can AND HAVE BEEN applied for failure to fulfill this very basic statutory requirement.
So what happens if your plan suffers a Department of Labor (EBSA) audit and you do not have the required fidelity bond? Where no plan loss have occurred the responsible fiduciary generally runs at least the risk that he/she will be assessed the “twenty percent fiduciary penalty” under ERISA Section 502(l). In the case where a fiduciary breach resulted in damages to the plan, the failure to have an ERISA bond is a federal code violation in and of itself. Failure to purchase an ERISA fidelity coverage, leaving the plan unprotected against an act of dishonesty or fiduciary breach by an individual who should have been bonded, may spread personal liability for those acts to a plan sponsor, member of management or other party serving in a fiduciary role even if that party had NO fault for the loss.
The nation’s surety leader, Surety One, Inc., is a specialist in surety and fidelity bond underwriting. We are one of the largest producers of ERISA fidelity bonds in the nation. Our knowledge, extensive experience with ERISA bonds, and our broad fidelity underwriting authorities allow us to fulfill your fidelity bond need immediately.
ERISA bonds for plans with non-qualifying assets;
ERISA bonds for ESOPs,
ERISA bonds for labor union and multi-employer plans;
ALL of these fidelity bonds can be written on primary basis to $5 million, and an additional $5 million if the application is for an excess layer.
Visit us at http://www.ERISA-Bonds.com, call anytime at (787) 333-0222 or (800) 373-2804, or email Underwriting@SuretyOne.com.