Tom Campbell of Campbell Law PC discusses the alarming increase in termite damage around the country, why it’s occurring and what you can do to protect your home. Tom’s advice: You cannot depend on your pest control company to keep you safe. If you think you have a termite problem—get an inspection from a knowledgeable, independent and unbiased professional. Termites have always posed a risk to property, but with the arrival of the invasive Formosan species of termites to the US, damage is occurring at a much faster rate and can be harder to identify. Formosan termites originated in southern China and Taiwan. They are a bigger and more aggressive version of the subterranean termites that are native to the US and they do more damage at higher rates. However, the methods of prevention are the same for each of these species. The problem lies with termite companies failing to provide full treatments. According to an ABC 33/40 report that aired in May 2016, Alabama’s top regulator Joe Debrow (a Mobile native) substandard termite prevention treatments are often the cause of infestation. Many companies have made the business decision to purposefully leave customers’ homes vulnerable to infestations as a way to cut corners and save money. Companies will charge their customers for termite prevention services and then provide little or no treatment to the homes. This is a profitable business model because companies have figured out that they stand to make more money from taking payments and not properly treating than they will lose on paying damage claims. These companies can also avoid paying claims by making up excuses to convince their customers that they are not liable for the termite damage to their homes.
For instance, Termite companies will tell customers that they aren’t responsible for repairs because the customer has a “retreat only contract,” and not a “repair contract.” If the company never supplies the services that were warranted by the contract, then customers can get around the contracts terms and recover all repair costs plus certain damages available under the law.
Additionally, companies will tell customers that they aren’t liable since they haven’t found any living termites, that the cause of the infestation is moisture issues, or that the customer’s bond only covers Eastern subterranean termites, and not Formosans kind. All of these excuses are signs that your provider is acting fraudulently. If you suspect that you have termite damage to your home, it’s important that you seek advice from an experienced professional who knows the tricks of the trade. Remember that termites damage wood slowly, so the amount of damage caused by taking an additional day, week, or month needed to make informed decisions about an independent termite inspection is generally insignificant. If you think you have a claim, don’t panic. Don’t call your termite company, you will risk the destruction of valuable evidence. Don’t try to make repairs or retreat on your own, contact a professional—we can help!