Private developers are increasingly asking contractors and subcontractors to post surety bonds, and smaller firms can be in a good position to obtain bonding if they have a dependable work history and are financially secure, experts say. "There are quite a few surety underwriters that are willing to entertain surety bonds for contractors at the $5 million to $10 million level," said one insurance-broker executive. "What's probably key at this point in the game is cash on hand, and obviously that's going to be a challenge to a new entrant into the marketplace."

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