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Keeping You Safe

Avoid Being Scammed, Trust Who You Hire

The tree industry is one of the most dangerous professions (including police and firefighting). One reason is we work near live power lines, extreme heights and with dangerous equipment. Tree work comes with the heavy risk of serious injury and death. This is to protect you and your home from potential liabilities.

What You Need To Know

Insured Doesn't Always Mean The Best Coverage

Tree industry insurance is very expensive, especially workers’ compensation. There are companies that do not carry proper insurance to protect you from liability so that their insurance premiums are not as expensive. Some will tell you they are fully covered when they are under insured. In some cases they are unaware of what coverage they need.

Do your research, make sure to ask for a certificate of insurance directly from the insurance company. You should not offend a fully insured company when you ask for proof of insurance.

Don't be deceived, Please do your homework, get the certificate from the insurance company and ask your lawyer.

Insurance Definitions:

Workers’ Compensation

A form of insurance providing wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee's right to sue his or her employer for the tort of negligence (Google Definition).

Workers’ Compensation is the most expensive and the most insurance to purchase and is mandatory. There is no substitute for it!

Without it, whoever you hire is legally required to take responsibility for work injuries, but the property owner is next in line. If an employee is injured and the owner can’t cover the bills, the homeowner is then responsible. You may be liable to pay for the injured person’s medical bills, lost wages and other costs associated with the injury.

General Liability Insurance

This protects your property. It covers any damages caused by the trees. General liability does not cover injuries suffered by tree workers, accidents involving any on-road vehicle. (Some policies may have a rider covering $5,000 of on-the-job injuries. A trip to the emergency room and medical bills can surpass that amount very quickly.)

Fully Insured

You see the term "fully insured." What does it mean? More often than not, it means they do not want you to ask many questions. You must ask, however, because "fully insured" can mean absolutely nothing.

Tips and Tricks

Ask Questions

Learn about the company, ask specific questions and listen carefully to the answers.

what experience do you have in tree care.

Do your employees wear identifying uniforms to let me know who should be on my property?

Does your company suggest leaving the brush by the street for the city to pick up? (The city will not pick up brush left by contractors; this can result in fines and an increased cost of brush disposal. Often when this happens the tree company has already been paid and is nowhere to be found.)

Do you have general liability and workers’ compensation insurance to cover employees? WILL YOU HAVE YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY SEND ME A COPY?

Can I get pictures of some of your tree pruning jobs?

Do you require any payment in advance? (Do not do it. Do not pay anything until the job is finished!)

The law doesn’t require workers’ comp for non-construction businesses with less than five employees. But that does not protect you from being legally responsible in case of an accident.

If the owner is the only employee, the same rules apply. If the owner is injured and can’t pay, you are just as liable. And to that point, no one should ever do tree work alone, it increases the chance of severe injury or death.

Ask for a price quotation in writing

Once you're satisfied that you're working with an honest, competent professional, invite him or her to your home and get a quote. A written quotation gives you the assurance of exactly what your job will cost—no surprises. Beware of "job estimates." They can go up.

Know and avoid scam attempts you may encounter.

Three common scams.

Tree contractor asks to be paid when your job is half done. Never pay for a job in full until you are 100% satisfied.

One of the most common scams is to simply print "insured" on a business card and not actually have insurance. Ask every business to provide you with a certificate of insurance from their insurance company and you will be surprised at how many will not have any, or will only have general liability and no more.

You have heard about businesses getting scammed by a new employee who suffers a severe back injury while picking up a piece of paper the first day of work. The company is forced to give workers’ comp and pay for lost wages, etc. unless it can prove that the injury was preexisting. The same thing can happen to you if you hire an unscrupulous tree contractor. You may have to prove that a ridiculous injury did not occur while he was working on your property. This can be nearly impossible to do, and you may end up paying the medical bills for someone who got injured in a drunken brawl the night before.

Numerous other scams cost customers thousands every year. Some are not as blatant as the above, but they can be equally as costly to the health of your trees.