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THREE EXAMPLES OF REAL LIFE INSURANCE CLAIMS

Ryan Sandilands, Claims Manager at Wymark Insurance Brokers, shares three instances of claims made against pest managers who made errors while on the job. 

 

Dealing with hazardous substances is part of a pest manager’s everyday work. Get it wrong, and even the most straightforward treatments can have potentially serious consequences. In each of the real-life cases outlined here, the pest manager’s liability could not be easily defended.

 

Allegation 1:

Pest manager fumigated four dwellings only to discover the incorrect product was used. The product label was virtually identical to the label of the product that should have been used. The treatment left an oily residue that stained surfaces (especially carpets) and was a genuine slip hazard necessitating immediate removal and restoration. It also led to alternate accommodation being required.

Amount Originally Claimed:

$40,000

Final Amount Settled:

TBA – we are in the process of assessing this claim

Third Party Cost i.e. Lawyers/Experts:

Loss adjuster fee

Recommendation:

No defence to the pest manager’s liability and little chance of deflecting the claim to the manufacturer/supplier. When ordering the product, the pest manager did this over the telephone. Further to this issue, the pest manager stated “please supply me the same product as last time” rather than naming the particular product. Further again, the supplier invoiced for the product they supplied, therefore it matched the product, as opposed to the product the pest manager intended to procure.

Lessons

  • This incident presents the issue of multiple claimants arising from the one act.
  • Orders for technical products should be confirmed and/or made in writing to ensure the correct product is procured. This also creates an indisputable record of the purchase request.
  • Best practice is to always check the label and directions for dilution to ensure compliance and minimise the risk of property damage and personal injury.

 

Allegation 2:

Pest manager allegedly treated a commercial dishwasher with the incorrect product and/or applied said chemical to the wrong area of the dishwasher. This allegedly caused an electrical fire within and destruction of the dishwasher.

Amount Originally Claimed:

$35,005

Final Amount Settled:

TBA – we are in the process of defending this claim

Third Party Cost i.e. Lawyers/Experts:

Loss adjuster fee

Recommendation:

It is difficult to dispute the pest manager’s liability as the fire occurred only moments after the pest manager left the room, as evidenced by the CCTV. However, this is only circumstantial evidence and can be countered by good ‘housekeeping’.

Lessons

  • When treating machinery, ensure adequate work records such as a sufficiently detailed log is completed. This will allow a thorough analysis and defence of the claim. For example, note which product was sprayed and where exactly the machine (dishwasher) was sprayed. The log should also detail precautions taken. For example, “ensured product did not contact electrical components and was dry upon completion of treatment”.

 

 

Allegation 3:

Pest manager (also a cleaner) conducted a grout clean. Subsequently water damage allegedly occurred to the skirting and kick boards, necessitating replacement.

Amount Originally Claimed:

Various – multiple claims

Final Amount Settled:

Usually in the vicinity of $10,000

Third Party Cost i.e. Lawyers/Experts:

Loss adjuster fee

Recommendation:

Difficult to dispute the pest manager’s liability as the damage occurred contemporaneously with the pest manager’s grout clean service.

Lessons

After completion of a grout clean, a detailed job log will assist in defending any unwarranted claim and act as prudent risk management. The job log and risk management document ought to include:

  • Photographs of members in the vicinity of the grout clean before and after;
  • Notes on any pre-existing damage and a record of discussing/identifying this with the owner;
  • Moisture metre readings of members in the vicinity of the grout clean before and after;
  • Notes confirming that treatment of high risk or areas susceptible to water damage/ingress has been avoided.

 

In sharing these examples of the kinds of claims we are working on, we hope pest managers take note of how important good record-keeping becomes in the event that a claim should arise.

 

Ryan Sandilands, Claims Manager, Wymark Insurance Brokers,