One of the pest manager’s sneakiest enemies is the termite. When the months heat up these tiny beasts become more active and therefore more of a focus for our industry. Whether carrying out termite inspections and treatments or pre-purchase pest inspections, it’s important to follow good process and accurate reporting. This ensures a happy customer and avoids a claim in termite management.
Although termites are more active in higher humidity, it is important to keep track of their activity at any time of year. Australia hosts well over 300 species but as we all know the subterranean (ground-nesting) and drywood (wood-nesting) species are those that cause the most damage. They enthusiastically penetrate and devour a building’s foundation and other wood sources.
These pint-sized pests can get even the most experienced operator into deep trouble if they don’t find and report on them correctly.
So, here is our gift to you – the following steps outline precautions to take in avoiding a termite-related insurance claim. Interested in reading about an actual insurance claim example? When you’ve finished reading the steps, we’ve written one up here.
Steps to preventing an insurance claim
Step 1 – Record conducive conditions
Take your time in detecting and recording conditions conducive to timber pest activity. This includes loose timber lying around on the ground level of a property or beside it, moisture under a house, garden beds and shrubbery against a building and a wood pile against a garage wall. These are only a handful of the many circumstances that attract termites or increase the likelihood of them making a home within a property.
Step 2 – Correctly identify activity and species
Pinpoint any active termites in and around the property (consider including a termite detection device such as Termatrac in your exploration tactics), then correctly identify the termite species and report carefully on both these aspects. As mentioned, only certain termites cause damage to properties so focus on these – don’t spend your time where it isn’t needed.
Step 3 – Produce accurate reporting
Due to the unreliability of human memory, real-time reporting goes a long way to ensuring accurate paperwork. If every aspect of your report is carefully recorded while onsite, as you go through the property, you are much less likely to forget the specifics of steps one and two. An onsite reporting app such as Rapid Inspect can assist with this.
Step 4 – Take plentiful photos
Visually recording all areas of a property inspection plays an important role, as photos clearly record the circumstances without bias. Further, it is just as important to photograph a dry subfloor as it is a wet subfloor (e.g. under wet areas such as a bathroom, kitchen and laundry). This means you can prove at a later date that an area was dry at the time of reporting, assisting with any vexatious claims.
Step 5 – Make appropriate recommendations
Another key to best practice reporting – and therefore avoiding a claim in termite management – is getting your treatment recommendations right the first time around. This way you are proactive rather than needing to defend your process. You will need to draw from your experience and your sound understanding of Australian Standards…
Step 6 – Be compliant
Using a reporting system, such as the Rapid Inspect app, that’s compliant with Australian Standards will guide you towards reporting in accordance with these standards. Specifically, AS_4349.3-2010 and AS_3660.2-2017. Make sure you’re fully aware of these requirements, from both a claims and homeowners’ perspective. Otherwise you will miss the compliance checks that help protect you from a termite-related insurance claim.
Step 7 – Apply appropriate treatment and advice
Of course, you will make sure the correct termite management system is in place or installed. This will be a chemical treatment system and/or monitoring and baiting system. Focused customer service is also key. We suggest ensuring more than once that the prospective or existing property owner is completely aware of any conditions reported.
Ideally, you should:
- Discuss the important findings and recommendations with the customer while onsite
- Clearly highlight them in the introductory email that accompanies the inspection report
- Call to confirm receipt and discuss the situation.
Checking the customer received and understands your report promotes a more optimistic interaction. This in turn bolsters their trust in you, promoting customer loyalty and encouraging positive word of mouth. And helps you avoid a termite management insurance claim. Interested to read a real-life case study? Click here.