When hiring someone to take care of your trees, insurance coverage may not be the first thing you think to put at the top of your list. But finding a company that is insured is vital. Many companies do not carry the proper insurance required for tree services, as it is very expensive. This insurance protects you and the employees removing your tree in case anything goes wrong. At Reaching Higher, we take pleasure in ensuring that our clients and employees are adequately insured by having the appropriate coverage. You never know what might happen, so it’s always best to be prepared.
Many people choose a contractor who can get the task done quickest and most economically. A tree removal professional with a pickup trunk and chainsaw, or a landscaper that offers “tree trimming” services is frequently used. What if a tree or limb falls on someone or something while (or, perhaps, after) the work is being done? What if someone falls or gets wounded? This is where tree service insurance comes in. Here’s what you need to know about tree service insurance before hiring a tree service to work on your property.
Tree work may not look dangerous, but it can be incredibly so–especially for those without the proper training, equipment, and experience. Those in tree work are constantly affected by heavy objects, unexpected events, unsafe tools, etc., which makes safety paramount. While landscapers and “tree guys” may take on the dangerous tasks that Certified Arborists are trained to perform, they don’t have the same technical training or experience. In addition, their insurance coverage is not as comprehensive. That’s why you should never do it without the aid of someone who is trained to help you avoid such mistakes. You’re putting yourself and your loved ones at even greater risk—there’s a greater chance of something going wrong, and a stronger likelihood that you’ll be held responsible for any injuries or damages.
Types of Insurance
General liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance are the two forms of coverage to examine. To be fully protected, your tree care professional must have both policies.
General liability insurance is aptly named because it covers a wide range of potential accidents and injuries. However, when policyholders engage in specific types of work, their coverage must be modified to reflect that work – otherwise, any damages or injuries related to the excluded work will not be compensated. Keep in mind that standard insurance policies for landscapers only cover work completed on the ground and up to around 8 or 10 feet above that. If an accident happens while they are working higher than 10 feet, you could be responsible for any injuries, damage, medical bills, lost wages, etc.
Working with trees is dangerous, and it can be even more dangerous if the wrong equipment is used. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that your workers’ compensation insurance specifically covers tree work and not just landscaping or similar work. Although many businesses advertise that they are fully covered by workers’ compensation insurance, this may not always be the case.
Tree work is a very costly business as the work being done is extremely hazardous. To cut corners, some tree contractors have chosen to characterize themselves as landscapers. They may then pass the cost savings on to you by charging you a lower rate for tree service. But don’t be fooled; what they’ve really done is transfer the risk to you!
The owner of the business is legally required to pay for work-related injuries to him/herself and any crew members if he/she does not have the appropriate sort of workers’ compensation insurance. And if they can’t or choose not to? You are responsible as the property owner who hired the firm.
Another common way companies often skirt workers’ compensation laws is misclassification. Companies will often misclassify their workers as contractors instead of employees, and thus completely avoid paying for workers’ compensation insurance. If one of those workers is injured, often the homeowner is held liable for their injuries as well. To be safe, you should always ask to see a potential tree service’s insurance certificates before hiring them.
Verify with a Certificate of Insurance
Always demand a Certificate of Insurance (COI) from the insurance company to ensure you’re protected. A photocopy is acceptable but request to see the original COI. There’s usually no fee for this service. If a company is offended by your request for an insurance certificate, you may want to reconsider whether you should really be doing business with them.
At Reaching Higher, we understand how important it is for our customers to feel safe and protected. That’s why we make sure to carry the proper insurance coverage for all our tree work. We want you to be able to rest easy knowing that you’re in good hands. Don’t chance it! Before you choose us, please request to inspect our COI – we’d be pleased to send it straight to you. Contact us today to learn more about our insurance coverage and how we can help you.