As an industry that is rife with litigation, sometimes the difference between defending a claim or paying a claim comes down to your paperwork and administration – not just your pest management skill and experience.
All the experience and skill in the world sometimes isn’t enough and we are seeing more frivolous claims than ever before. The question is: What else can I do to protect myself and my business? The question is particularly pertinent regarding pest inspections.
Retain as much information as possible: file notes, site notes, photos, correspondence and reports. There are very cost-effective ways to store large amount of data, and your report or app provider may well already have this service. Some standards require you to keep this documentation for a minimum of three years.
Paperwork and legal agreements
There are plenty of third party providers out there who have had a solicitor or barrister draw up terms and conditions designed to protect them. Has your own paperwork been through a stringent verification process?
Ensuring your legal agreements and associated paperwork are up to date is essential. They may well have been current in 1991 but it is now 2018 and there probably have been several updates or revisions to the standards. Pre-inspection agreements are designed to inform your client about the scope of the work to be undertaken and advise what is excluded, which should match the terms and conditions in the report.
Most complaints arise from consumer expectations not being met. For example, when you inspect a house and find no evidence of termites, the customer often interprets this to mean that the house is free of termites. We all know that you cannot guarantee this, as your inspection is normally limited to the readily accessible areas of the property. Therefore, for the customer to have a realistic expectation, your report must clearly indicate what you did inspect, and more importantly what you did not inspect.
If you are using a third party’s report or forms, ensure you are aware of copyright rules and have a current licence.
Article published in Professional Pest Manager Magazine (Feb March 2018)
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