In Washington the standard premium paid on a bail bond is 10% of the total bail amount. Therefore a bail amount set at $500 means a bail bondsman charges a $50 premium. A bail amount set at $5,000 means a bondsman charges a premium of $500. The bail bond agency keeps this premium pay their employees and keep their offices open.
Why Do Bail Agencies Keep the Premium?
Bail bond agencies are a great option for people who aren't able to pay a full bail amount. For instance, you may not be able to come up with $5,000 cash for the court in order to release your friend or loved one from jail. Instead, you can pay $500 to a bail bondsman who can then get them out of jail immediately.
The tradeoff is that the bail company keeps the premium you paid. The reason for this is that bail agencies are taking a risk when they pay the court the full bail amount. In exchange for that $500 premium, the bail agency is immediately giving the full bail amount of $5,000 to the court. The agency won't get that money until the case against the defendant been closed.
Even worse, the bail agency forfeits that $5,000 to the court if the defendant doesn't appear in court. They also become responsible for trying to locate the defendant and get them to appear in court. This often costs thousands of dollars and many hours of time.
But don't be worried - the majority of defendants show up to court. This means that you get your friend or loved one out of jail for 10% of their actual bail amount, and the bail agency is able to collect their money back from the court.