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The Perfect Storm – Termites & Foam Insulation

I recently did a program in Mobile mainly on the topic of foam insulation and the effects it has on termites and treatments. In a normal house, you have some 75% of the structure that is covered up and inaccessible for a termite inspection (real estate and/or annual renewal.) The if the homeowner has spray foam insulation added to the crawl space and/or attic, you could in effect make a structure almost 100% inaccessible. This will give the pest control operator the almost impossible task of finding tunnels and signs of termites in a home.

If you have been around for a while. You will remember the EIFS/Dryvit crisis we had back around 2000 to 2003, where moisture wicking up into the walls and also hiding any signs of termites. We are having claims on the foam insulation right now where a technician just can’t find anything when everything is completely covered up.

My understanding is that foam insulation in the crawl space should have a 6” gap on the foundation wall below the seal plate. That gap will allow you to see tunnels coming up from the ground. I have seen photos of houses where this is not being done. The insulation guys are just covering everything from the ground up and they cover AC/heating ducts as well. This is basically making the complete crawl space inaccessible. Termites can just tunnel up in the foam and you will never know it. And if you think that foam treated with a termiticide is a cure-all, think again. We have photos of tunnels going right through the treated foam with no effect. We also have photos of Formosan building their cartons right in the foam insulation.

Another thing we are finding is that the foam insulation will also hold moisture and that is usually going o be in contact with the subfloor and if in the attic, it has contact with your roofing materials. The combination of wood and moisture is perfect for termites, the perfect storm”. The possibilities of problems could be endless, as to proper treatments, proper inspections, moisture problems, mold problems and the list could go on and on.

I have a very bad feeling about the foam insulation and it could become as bad as the EIFS/Dryvit cries (which was very bad) or it could become even worse. My thoughts are to avoid these houses as to treating and putting them under a contract (even “pretreatment only”). I would not even think about doing a real estate inspection (clearance letter) on one of the houses. We will be learning more about the effects of the foam insulation as time goes on and the claims come in. I ask you to look at all the risk factors involved in this and just be smart enough to walk away when the risk is too high. It is just not worth it.

Johnny Baker,

Baker Insurance Services

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Baker Insurance now has a new web site and will be adoing articles much like our “baker insurance report”.

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Treating Synthetic Stucco Houses

Synthetic stucco houses are sometimes known as EIFS or Dryvit houses as well.  The best way to describe these type buildings and homes are ” a claim waiting to happen”.  Never, ever treat one of these and put a “repair contract” on it.  Let me repeat that again – “NEVER, EVER”.

If you just have to make the money can can’t turn away from it, then put it under a “retreatment contract”.  And have the homeowner, property owner, sign a statement that there will be no repairs for past, present OR future damages in any shape, form or fashion.  AND then have their signature notorized for good measure.  You keep the original or better yet, get two copies signed and notorized.

The smart thing to do is simply stay as far away from these structures as possible.  We paid out millions of dollars around the Birmingham area back in the 1999-2001 time period.  These claims were the worst I have ever dealt with in my 21 years of insuring pest control operators.  Some went as high as $400,000 and litigation was the norm on most of these.


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Employee Dishonesty

When something is missing in a home or apartment, a lot of people will point their finger at the pest control technician.  If they do, please be aware that general liability coverage does NOT cover that.

Theft is not considered negligence, which is what your policy covers.  Theft is considered an intentional act and those are not covered by the general liability policy.

You can, however, get coverage for “Employee Dishonesty”.  You can have coverage, but for it to pay off, an employee will have to be found guilty or make a confession.  In either case, the employee will be looking at jail.  But the policy will pay off in that case.

If you are interested in this coverage and have 5 employees, the cost is $115 for $10,000 coverage or $170 for $25,000 coverage (annual premium).  For 10 employees the cost is $164 for $10,000 coverage and $241 for $25,000 coverage.

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Certificates Of Insurance

We want to encourage you to order your certificates (proof of insurance) by email.  The fax machine is still a good way, but email is better.  Get a “read receipt” on your email to know for sure that we received and read it.  Also, be sure that your company name is on the email.

Take any pick of email addresses for Baker Insurance found on our personal page.  We can also email these to your customer if you will get their email address.  They might be impressed with your handling this with high-tech technology and how fast you handled it.

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God Said No

I ask God to take away my habit.  God said, No.  It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.  I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.  God said, No.  His spirit is whole, his body is only temporary.  I asked God to grant me patience.  God said, No.  Patience is a byproduct of tribulations; it isn’t granted, itis learned.  I asked God to give me happiness.  God said, No.  I give you blessings; Happiness is up to you.  I asked God to spare me pain.  God said, No. Suffering draws you apart from wordly cares and brings you closer to me.  I asked God to make my spirit grow.  God said, No.  You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.  I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life.  God said, No.  I will give you life so that you may enjoy all things.  I asked God to help me LOVE others, as much as HE loves me.  God said ……AHHHH, finally you have the idea.  “To the world you might be one person, but to one person you just might be the world.”