Jeff Downer The fee paid to a bail bondsman is called premium. The premium is earned by using the bail bond company’s financial resources for the full bond amount as a guarantee the defendant will appear in court. In Indiana the premium is set by law at ten percent of the bond amount.
Once the case is over, bail agents often are asked if the premium will be refunded. The answer is no for two reasons:
The first reason is that the premium was earned. The defendant did not have come up with the entire amount of the bond to be released. The bail bond company did that and as an insurer assumed the financial risk of the defendant’s failure to appear in court.
The second reason is that the refunding (or rebating) of premium by bail insurers is prohibited by Indiana law and is a criminal offense:
Advising employment of attorney; paying fees or rebates; acting as attorney; accepting property; soliciting business
Sec. 2. (a) A bail agent or recovery agent may not do any of the following:
(1) Suggest or advise the employment of or name for employment any particular attorney to represent the bail agent’s principal.
(2) Pay a fee or rebate or give any property to an attorney in bail bond matters, except in defense of any action on a bond.
(3) Pay a fee or rebate or give or promise any property to the principal or anyone in the bail agent’s behalf.
(4) Participate in the capacity of an attorney at a trial or hearing of one on whose bond the bail agent is surety.
(5) Accept any property from a principal except the premium, bail bond filing fee (when applicable), and transfer fee (when applicable), except that the bail agent or surety may accept collateral security or other indemnity from the principal that must be returned upon final termination of liability on the bond. The collateral security or other indemnity required by the bail agent or surety must be reasonable in relation to the amount of the bond.
(6) Solicit business in or about any place where prisoners are confined or in or near any courtroom.
(b) A person who recklessly violates this section or who operates as a bail agent or recovery agent without a valid license commits a Class A misdemeanor.
As added by P.L.261-1985, SEC.1. Amended by P.L.224-1993, SEC.26.
Confusion about the refunding of premium is understandable. The posting of a cash deposit with the court can be an alternative. If the defendant has been required by the court or chosen to pay the entire bond amount as a cash bond themselves, then that deposit is eligible to be refunded minus any fines, costs or fees levied by the court.
More information about surety bail bond regulation can be found at the Indiana Department of Insurance Bail Bond Division website.