DTY: The Insurance Guide | Sponsored by Brownyard Group
15 years of bed bug risk management:
What we’ve learned


John CulottaFor pest management professionals (PMPs) who have been fighting bed bugs, it may seem as though these pests were new to the scene 15 years ago. But bed bugs have been a household pest for more than 3,300 years, dating back to ancient Egypt. It wasn’t until the 1950s that they were all but eradicated in the United States, thanks to new pest control treatments and widespread use of washing machines and vacuum cleaners.

As PMPs know all too well, bed bugs made a resurgence around the turn of the 21st century. The reasons for this are varied, from bans on certain pesticides to increased travel by Americans to pesticide-resistant bed bugs.

Treatments evolve

Today, modern heating equipment used to battle bed bugs has made it possible to better regulate temperatures. PMPs have developed more knowledge on selecting the correct temperature for the treatment, as well as the proper length of time needed to eradicate bed bugs.

In addition to improved heat equipment, other effective control methods have been introduced in recent years, including steam treatments and new chemicals.

As a result, we see a decrease in property damage claims these days — and an increase in more unusual claims. Some of today’s common claims result from homeowners failing to take items out of their house before treatment, even if the PMP has told them to. Others result from failing to take proper measures regarding sprinkler systems, which can lead to extensive water damage.

In these and other property damage cases, homeowners want reimbursement from someone, and liability often falls back on the PMP. This is why clear communication with customers is so important. One lesson learned from these nearly two decades of insuring bed bug treatments is the importance of communicating with customers.

Risk management and insurance

As the treatments for bed bugs have evolved, so have the insurance and risk management involved. Along the way, we understood the importance of detection dogs and began offering mortality coverage for them. We worked with attorneys to develop sample contract language that avoided guarantees and made it clear multiple treatments for bed bugs may be necessary. We shared this with our PMP insureds to help guide their contracts.

Coverage also evolved as treatments became more effective. Yet when shopping for your insurance coverage today, be aware that some insurers still specify which equipment a PMP can use, or have sublimits on specific treatment methods built into their policies. In addition, some insurers mandate what PMPs can include in their contracts.

At PCOpro, we understand more pest control firms are deciding to treat bed bugs. No matter what method you use, it is important to make sure you have insurance that reflects the reality of how you work and is flexible enough to allow you to make decisions that are right for your business.

John Culotta is program manager of PCOpro, the pest control operator program at Brownyard Group, a leading administrator providing specialized insurance coverage for select industry groups. He can be reached at jculotta@brownyard.com or by calling 800-645-5820, ext. 122.

PMP's Direct To You provides pest management professionals with educational refreshers on timely and critical topics essential to operational success. This content is not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed to practice where you live. Look for the content-rich PMP Direct To You archives at mypmp.net/direct-to-you-archive.

This newsletter was produced by North Coast Media's content marketing staff in collaboration with Brownyard Group.

View details.