Maryland Church Fights Unlicensed Individual Surety Over Bond on Failed Project

The Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church was supposed to be in business in Columbia by now.

The church’s 150 members signed a deal, put money down and watched bulldozers roll. But construction stopped in late 2008 and the congregation never recouped its investment. Thanks in part, church officials say, because a bond that was supposed to insure the project didn’t pay off. The worshippers now borrow a building from a sister church, meeting in the afternoon after the other congregation worships in the morning.

Where prayer fails, sometimes regulation succeeds. The church’s problems are being held out as evidence that the state needs to increase oversight of wealthy individuals guaranteeing small contractors who can’t get backing from licensed corporate surety companies.

These “individual sureties” and their brokers are pushing back, seeking legislation that would allow them to continue to back construction without regulation by the Maryland Insurance Administration.

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