Tallahassee, FL -The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issued a warning today to homeowners to use caution before signing over termite protection contracts and offered simple steps to avoid inadequate protection when considering service providers.
“Consumers should be aware that there is no provision in state law for a company to take over or sign over an existing contract,” said Andy Rackley, Director of the Department’s Division of Agriculture Environmental Services. “While switching contracts is not contrary to State pest control law or regulations, homeowners need to read the fine print, so they know exactly what they are covered for and ask questions if a new company comes in offering to take over or switch their contract.”
Pest control is an important tool for homeowners to protect their homes against termites in Florida. As an incentive to new customers, many pest control companies offer to “take over” or “pick up” a warranty issued by the homeowner’s current service provider. However, a contract with a new service provider typically only protects the homeowner from damage that occurred from the date the contract goes into effect.
The pest control company offering to take over an existing warranty is actually issuing a new contract warranty with new terms and conditions under their company name. If the home owner elects to continue the original warranty in addition to the new warranty, the new pest control company must obtain written consent in letter form that it is the property owner’s desire to have a second contract warranty for the same wood-destroying organism.
All pest control companies are legally obligated to abide by the terms of these contracts, which specify what the company will do to protect your home and whether they will treat, re-treat or repair any damage if termites are found.
The Department encourages consumers to carefully consider the coverage provided in a “take over” contract and to fully understand the terms before entering any new contract. When considering a new service provider, consumers should ask the following questions:
• Is the new warranty coverage equal to or greater than the existing coverage?
• Will a treatment be rendered by the new pest control company?
• How do the renewal terms and costs compare between warranties?
• Is the new pest company in good standing as to reputation and consumer satisfaction?
• Will the contract cover any hidden infestation or damage that occurred before the new contract was signed?
For more information about “take over” warranties, visit www.floridatermitehelp.org or contact the Department’s Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control at (850) 617-7997.