Washington Hearing Instrument Establishment Bond: A Comprehensive Guide

February 23, 2022

Washington Hearing Instrument Establishment Bond

This guide provides information for insurance agents to help their customers obtain a Washington Hearing Instrument Establishment bond

At a Glance:

  • Average Cost: Between 1% to 5% of the bond amount per year based on the applicant’s credit
  • Bond Amount: Minimum of $10,000 (more on this later)
  • Who Needs it: All hearing instrument establishments operating in Washington
  • Purpose: To ensure the public will receive compensation for financial harm if the establishment violates any provisions of Chapter 18.35 RCW
  • Who Regulates Hearing Instrument Establishments in Washington: The Washington Department of Health (DOH)

Background

Washington statute 18.35.240 requires all hearing instrument establishments operating in the state to file a surety bond with the DOH before conducting business. The Washington legislature enacted the bond requirement to ensure that these establishments engage in ethical business practices. Additionally, hearing instrument establishments must at all times employ at least one licensed hearing specialist or audiologist to remain in compliance with Washington statute 18.35.020.

What is the Purpose of the Washington Hearing Instrument Establishment Bond?

Washington requires hearing instrument establishments to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to conducting business. The bond ensures that the public will receive compensation for financial harm if the hearing instrument establishment or its employees fails to abide by the regulations set forth in Chapter 18.35 RCW. Specifically, the bond protects the public if the establishment engages in any acts of fraud or breaches any agreements made with consumers. In short, the bond is a type of insurance that protects the public if the establishment acts unethically.

Washington Hearing Instrument Establishment Bond Form

Washington Hearing Instrument Establishment Bond Form

How Can an Insurance Agent Obtain a Washington Hearing Instrument Establishment Surety Bond?

BondExchange makes obtaining a Washington Hearing Instrument Establishment bond easy. Simply log in to your account and use our keyword search to find the “hearing” bond in our database. Don’t have a login? Enroll now and let us help you satisfy your customers’ needs. Our friendly underwriting staff is available by phone at (800) 438-1162, email, or chat from 7:30 AM to 7:00 PM EST to assist you.

At BondExchange, our 40 years of experience, leading technology, and access to markets ensures that we have the knowledge and resources to provide your clients with fast and friendly service whether obtaining quotes or issuing bonds.

How is the Bond Amount Determined?

Washington statute 18.35.240 dictates that the bond amount must be a minimum of $10,000. However, the statute also grants the DOH the authority to require an increased amount, on a case by case basis, if needed.

Is a Credit Check Required for the Washington Hearing Instrument Establishment Bond?

Surety companies will run a credit check on the owners of the establishment to determine eligibility and pricing for the Washington Hearing Instrument Establishment bond. Applicants with excellent credit and work experience can expect to receive the best rates. While applicants with poor credit may be declined by some surety companies or pay higher rates. The credit check is a “soft hit”, meaning that the credit check will not affect the applicant’s credit.

How Much Does the Washington Hearing Instrument Establishment Bond Cost?

The Washington Hearing Instrument and Establishment bond can cost anywhere between 1% to 5% of the bond amount per year. Insurance companies determine the rate based on a number of factors including your customer’s credit score and experience. The chart below offers a quick reference for the bond cost on a $10,000 bond requirement.

$10,000 Hearing Instrument Establishment Bond Cost

Credit Score Bond Cost (1 year)
625+ $100
600 – 624 $250
575 – 599 $300
500 – 574 $500

Who is Required to Purchase the Bond?

Washington requires all hearing instrument establishments to purchase a surety bond, and extend the bond’s coverage to their hearing aid specialist and/0r audiologist employees, before conducting business. To paraphrase Washington statute 18.35.010, a hearing instrument establishment is a business entity that employs at least one hearing aid specialist and/or audiologist that fits and dispenses hearing instruments and provides face-to-face consultations with clients during regular business hours.

What are the Licensing Requirements for Hearing Instrument Establishments in Washington?

Washington requires hearing instrument establishments to employ at least one licensed hearing specialist or audiologist. The below sections outline the steps applicants must take to obtain both the hearing aid specialist and audiologist licenses.

Hearing Aid Specialist License

Step 1 – Satisfy the Education Requirements

Hearing aid specialists must complete a two-year degree or nine-month certificate program, conducted by an approved program provider, in hearing aid specialist instruction

Step 2 – Pass the Exam

All license applicants must pass both the written and practical examinations prior to submitting their license application. Initial license applicants must also pass the jurisprudence exam

Step 3 – Obtain Surety Bond Coverage

Hearing aid specialists must be covered under their employer’s surety bond

Step 4 – Complete the Application

All Washington Hearing Aid Specialist License applications can be completed online here. Hearing aid specialists must complete the application in its entirety, and pay the following fees:

    • $110 application fee
    • $95 license fee

Audiologist License

Step 1 – Satisfy the Education Requirements

Audiologists must have completed a master’s or doctorate degree program, that includes clinical practicum experience, prior to applying for licensure

Step 2 – Gain the Necessary Experience 

Washington requires audiologists to obtain a minimum of 36 weeks of full-time postgraduate professional work experience or a part-time equivalent. The applicant’s supervisor must verify the details of this experience. Audiologists that obtain an AuD from an approved institution of higher education are considered to have met this requirement.

Step 3 – Pass the Exam

All audiologists must pass the PRAXIS exam. Additionally, first-time license applicants must pass the jurisprudence exam.

Step 4 – Obtain Surety Bond Coverage

Hearing aid specialists must be covered under their employer’s surety bond

Step 5 – Complete the Application

All Washington Audiologist License applications can be completed online here. Audiologists must complete the application in its entirety, and pay the following fees:

    • $110 application fee
    • $95 license fee

Audiologists that have met all of the education requirements may apply for an interim permit that allows them to practice as an audiologist under supervision before they gain the necessary experience and pass the practice exam. Interim permits are valid for one year.

License Period – All Washington Hearing Aid Specialist and Audiologist Licenses expire on the holder’s birthday and must be renewed before the expiration date

How Do Washington Hearing Aid Specialists and Audiologists Renew Their Licenses?

Both audiologists and hearing aid specialists must complete 30 hours of continuing education, with one hour being devoted to infection control, every three years. Audiologists can renew their licenses online here and hearing aid specialists can renew their licenses online here. All Washington Hearing Aid Specialist and Audiologist Licenses expire on the holder’s birthday and must be renewed before the expiration date.

What are the Insurance Requirements for Hearing Instrument Establishments in Washington?

Washington does not require hearing instrument establishments to purchase any form of liability insurance as a prerequisite to obtaining a business license. Hearing instrument establishments must purchase and maintain a surety bond with a minimum limit of $10,000 and extend the coverage to their hearing aid specialist and/or audiologist employee(s).

How Do Washington Hearing Instrument Establishments File Their Bonds?

Hearing instrument establishments should mail their completed bond forms, including the power of attorney, to the following address:

State of Washington
Department of Health
1112 S.E. Quince St.
P.O. Box 47890
Olympia, Washington  98504-7890

The surety bond requires signatures from both the surety company that issues the bond and from a representative of the Hearing Instrument Establishment. The surety company should include the following information on the bond form:

  • Legal name and address of entity/individual(s) buying the bond
  • Surety company’s name and state of incorporation
  • Bond amount
  • Date the bond is signed

What Can Washington Hearing Instrument Establishments Do to Avoid Claims Against Their Bonds?

To avoid claims made against their bonds, hearing instrument establishments must follow all license regulations in the state, including some of the most important issues below that tend to cause claims:

  • Do not engage in any acts of fraud
  • Do not breach any agreements made with consumers

What Other Insurance Products Can Agents Offer Hearing Instrument Establishments in Washington?

Washington does not require hearing instrument establishments to purchase any form of liability insurance as a prerequisite to obtaining a business license. However, most reputable businesses will seek to obtain this insurance anyway. Bonds are our only business at BondExchange, so we do not issue any other types of insurance, but our agents often utilize brokers for this specific line of business. A list of brokers in this space can be found here.

How Can Insurance Agents Prospect for Washington Hearing Instrument Establishment Customers?

Washington provides a public database to search for licensed hearing aid specialists, audiologists, and hearing instrument fitter/dispenser permits. However, agents must have the provider’s name or credentialing number to view information on their license. We suggest contacting the DOH directly to obtain a full list of hearing instrument establishments operating in the state. Contact BondExchange for additional marketing resources. Agents can also leverage our print-mail relationships for discounted mailing services.

2022-04-05T17:05:27-04:00