What liability risks are out there and what you can do to manage them
Pest control is a vast multi-faceted and highly regulated global business offering various types of services to control pests of all types to numerous industries and the public Pest control business liability classification codes are:
Pest control involves eradication or abatement of all types of pests, insects and rodents but none more evasive and resilient than the mosquito. In the United States Pest control companies often provide residential pest control options for mosquitoes and other insects both to individual homeowner’s, apartment complexes and other types of residential buildings as well as temporary lodging such as resorts and hotels Municipalities, townships, counties, water districts, states, countries and community based programs also undertake the eradication of mosquitoes, especially when there is a disease outbreak. Commercial pest control companies often subcontract with these entities to perform the actual pesticide application, monitor the mosquito population, train applicators and monitor certifications and licensure of employees/applicators.
The reason so much attention is given to eliminating this one insect; is the danger to human life, along with wildlife, associated with Vector borne diseases transmitted by mosquitoes after extrinsic incubation, e.g. Malaria, Yellow fever, West Nile Virus, Chikungunya and Dengue fever. The National Resources Defense Council indicates that these diseases are increasing as the insect population grows, due to the warming of the climate, along with the shifting rain and weather patterns. As a result, Additionally, another growing threat from the mosquito is on the horizon.
As the 2016 Olympics get under way the public, the business sector, medical professionals, human health organizations, environmental and government agencies and the pest control industry are warily eyeing the event as the Journal of America Medical Association states the potential for a pandemic is explosive due to the presence of the Zika virus, which is an emerging illness borne by mosquitoes, in the Olympics host county of Brazil.
Some states in the United State have already experienced cases of Zika. Most notably there have been cases reported in 15 counties in Florida and as consequence new laws have been enacted which impose even greater regulation for pest control company applicators. Other states as well may follow suit as the disease spreads.
In this case, the infected female Aedes genus mosquito is the carrier Zika Vector Control for the Urban Pest Management Industry). This particular mosquito type is an invasive species which is already established in America and by its nature continues to expand its range. It carries Zika virus, dengue fever and a possible link to microcephaly in infants. Additionally, is has been recently confirmed that an infected human male can sexually transmit the Zika virus to a female similar to AIDS while the virus is active. Zika is also possibly linked to severe brain damage and Gullian Barre’Syndrome.
A debate now rages among the scientific community as to whether or not microcephaly is associated with the Zika virus; or its actual root cause is a larvacide (growth inhibitor) called “pyriproxyfen” used for mosquito control by targeting the larval stage while in the water source. In Brazil, it was allegedly injected into by the Brazilian Health Ministry into the drinking water tanks to combat the mosquito population. See: “Chemical Larvacide, not Zika, true cause of Brazil’s Microcephaly Outbreak.” This larvacide is approved in the US by the EPA and worldwide by WHO
Either way the pest control industry will be squarely in the middle of the debate on how to effectively reduce the mosquito population using Integrated Pest Management with Biological Based Technology and still prevent harm to humans in response to the concerns raised about this disease in the National Pest Management Association Industry wide alert issued in January, 2016. Irregardless of which cause is the culprit it will have far reaching implications for insurance coverage for the the pest control industry.
Liability claims may rise in the form of general liability, professional liability and products liability as the number of victim’s increases and public alarm rises. Additionally, many local government mosquito abatement programs are being dropped by insurance carriers at a time when they are sorely General liability covers bodily injury due to your negligence (which is a failure to exercise reasonable care). Bodily injury means injury, sickness, disease or death. It is quite conceivable that a client that acquired Zika or other vector borne diseases could bring a negligence suit against a Pest control company, who failed to provide effective mosquito control for their residence, barring another possible source of contamination, dies or is injured, or their unborn child is borne with birth defects, caused by the disease or from the products used to abate this pest.
The Supreme Court of California widened the legal playing field when it held that pesticide application may not be excluded summarily under the pollution exclusions clause of an insurance policy without a thorough analysis of the facts and can be ordinary negligence performed in the general course of doing business in John R. MacKinnon vs. Truck Insurance Exchange (2003). As a result varying coverage has evolved for pest control companies.
These coverage may have different names but can be added as a supplement or rider to most general liability and business owner’s packages or can be obtained as special risk insurance specific to the industry including but not limited to mosquito abatement, fumigation, exterminator, pollution care custody and control, Crisis management endorsement and last but not least chemical liability. With the advent of new diseases and chemical compounds to address them Pest control companies must become or remain pro active to combat the negative impact caused by just one list insect.
The key factor is to review your company’s general liability policy or business owner’s package and be sure the wording covers pesticide application and mosquito control in the ordinary course of business and to make sure that specifically named diseases and/or vector borne illnesses are not excluded; or if excluded, purchase a rider, a supplement or special risk insurance policy. Also consider raising the aggregate amount on your general liability. You also need to make sure that if you are utilizing Biology Based Technology and larvae based pesticides (even if approved by the EPA) used on or near a water sources are covered, and obtain specific coverage and products liability for those products where there is either a known or potential risk for those pesticides and chemical degradation residue even if the product is approved for use under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the EPA.
Products liability is necessary if you are selling a product or dispersing it into commerce. Professional liability is necessary if you are recommending products for use as part of your business or selling them to clients separately. It would be fiscally prudent to have liability for any known or emerging vector borne disease spelled out, if obtainable; but you primarily want to make sure they are not excluded under your policy.
If it is proven, that the chemical pyriproxyfen used in larvae applications is the cause of microcephaly, rather than the Zika virus, then there is sure to be tort cases similar to those brought regarding the Thalidomide tragedy. (Disturbingly, Monsanto is either the parent company or a partner with Sumitomo which makes this chemical. Monsanto is the maker of Agent Orange, 24-D and Roundup). If you are recommending the use of larvae applications, and use or sell this particular chemical or any type of application that causes an environmental risk due to the degradation of chemicals in your pest control business it is vital that you have environmental coverage as well.
As the world population rises and various new diseases emerge and new chemical compounds and pesticides are developed to eliminate the pests and thus combat the diseases the risk increase proportionally for a pest control company. Excellent comprehensive insurance packages are your best protection.
Business Liability: Artisan Contractors
SIC Business Insurance Codes:
- 7342 Disinfecting and Pest Control services
- 2879 Pesticides and Chemicals-Not classified Elsewhere
NAICS Liability Classifications:
- 561710 Exterminating and Pest Control Services
- 325320 Pesticide and Agricultural Manufacturing
Business ISO General Liability:
- Code 43860 Fumigators
- Code 43470 Pest Control Services