Notaries are appointed by their state to perform certain legal functions, which include administering oaths and affirming signatures. To act as a notary, you must be licensed or commissioned by the state in which you reside.
Most states have a bonding requirement as part of the notary public registration process. The notary bond is designed to protect consumers from any errors resulting from the actions of a notary public.
When you applied to become a notary or renew your notary, you were required to purchase a notary bond. Your notary bond is your promise that, as a notary, you will uphold the notarial law. It protects the individuals who may be harmed by you from negligent acts, whether intentional or by mistake. The notary bond does not protect you.
Liability of Your Notary Bond
The notary bond is underwritten by a private company. The bond does not transfer liability away from the notary. It ensures that the notary's clients will receive compensation for any damages. If there is a claim against you, the notary, then you are responsible for the financial repercussions up to the bond amount which can range from $1,000 to $25,000. As the notary, you will also be responsible for any legal fees associated with your negligent act. Of course, if you cannot pay, then the surety company steps in and pays the claim but will then seek reimbursement of all losses, costs and expenses from you.
A notary bond reflects an agreement between three parties: the state, the surety company who underwrites the bond, and the notary public. Most states require notaries to purchase a surety bond to protect clients from damages that could be caused by an improper notarization. The bonds are usually inexpensive, and many notary companies include a notary bond in their notary packages.
If a claim related to one of your notarizations is brought against you, you must file against the state. If a claim is made, the surety pays out to the state, as obligee, in the amount of the claim up to the maximum limit of the bond.
The payment is used to settle the claim for damages made by your client. The principal, or you, the notary, can then be held liable to repay the surety company. The company can collect the full amount of the damages directly from you.
Please remember: The bond protects the public, not the notary.