In 2004, 120 arborists died on the job, according to a report from OSHA. These arborists worked for tree companies, landscaping businesses, and some worked privately. These statistics also showed much higher fatality rates for veteran arborists, largely because as these professionals gain experience, they often also get riskier jobs. Trees are staggeringly heavy - a fully grown tree can weigh 10 tons or more. Arborists face great risk of injury from tree branches or falling tree trunks, as well.
Perhaps you have a tree trimming business, or you help park systems identify threats to their trees and shrubs. Or you may work with your local city government to keep municipal trees healthy, trimmed and watered. If you manage trees and shrubs professionally, you may need arborist insurance that covers the risks you encounter in your work.
Who Needs Arborist Insurance?
- Tree removal specialists
- Tree trimmers and pruners
- Municipal tree care professionals
- Hardscaping professionals
- Tree pest management specialists
- Landscape gardening professionals
Arborists' Business Risks
While there isn't special arborist or tree trimming insurance for tree care professionals, it is important to assess your specific insurance risks and get the right coverage in place to protect your business investment.
Here are some of the risks you will need to consider, whether you are just starting up your tree service or you have a well-established company and are re-evaluating your existing coverage:
- Damage to other people's property
- Injury to others due to negligence, equipment malfunction or use of toxic substances such as pesticides
- Loss, damage or theft of your tools, equipment or vehicles
- Job-related injury or illness that you or your employees experience
- Errors and omissions exposure, due to tree care and landscape consulting or advice that leads to a loss
- Accidents you or your employees may cause while driving your commercial vehicles
As you assess your business risks and liabilities, be sure to consider the work you perform, the tools and substances you and your employees handle and other aspects of your work that can result in injury, damage or loss for you, your workers or others. Working with a knowledgeable insurance agent can ensure that you get adequate coverage for those risks and get peace of mind.
Types of Insurance for Arborists and Tree Trimmers
When you sit down with a commercial insurance agent, you will have a number of choices to make. Some of the coverage options your agent may recommend include:
- General liability insurance: This basic liability policy covers many of the liability risks all businesses face, such as property damage and bodily injury that you or your employees cause while performing tree care, removing trees or driving to and from job sites.
- Professional liability insurance: If you provide landscaping and tree care advice, professional liability or "errors and omissions" coverage can provide protection against liability claims due to neglicence, poor advice, or recommended services that result in a client's loss.
- Product liability insurance: This coverage can provide protection if products you sell cause damage or injury. This includes trimming tools, sprayers, chemicals and fertilizers.
- Business property insurance: The coverage you need for your business property and equipment depends on whether you work out of an office space, whether you own your business premises, and the equipment and tools you use on the job.
- Inland marine insurance: This policy protects equipment and cargo that you transport from one job site to another. For example, if you use a computer in the field, your inland marine insurance would typically provide protection. These policies vary by insurer, so it's a good idea to discuss the specifics with your agent.
- Commercial vehicle insurance: This insurance policy will provide coverage similar to your personal auto insurance, but will be specific to your commercial vehicles and drivers. Note that a personal auto policy is typically not sufficient to cover cars, vans and trucks used for commercial purposes.
- Business interruption or loss of income insurance: This policy protects you if your business must temporarily cease operations, and will cover ongoing operational costs and employee pay.
- Workers compensation: Workers comp is required in all states, although the laws vary from one state to another. In some states you only need to carry workers compensation if you have three or more full time employees, for example, while in others you need to carry a basic workers compensation policy whether or not you have employees. This policy will cover job-related injuries or illnesses and lost income.
There are a number of other optional coverage types to consider. Be sure to discuss your specific concerns and requirements with a knowledgeable agent who can customize coverage for your business.
Get Quotes for Your Arborist Insurance Needs
Regardless of whether you have a small tree trimming operation or you have a large crew of tree pruners, arborists and tree care professionals, you need the right types of arborist insurance coverage for you at a price you can afford. However, price isn't all you should be thinking about.
Measuring your risks and your assets might mean you need to consult with an attorney and a financial planner. You may also consider asking your colleagues what kinds of coverage they carry. Then, you'll be ready to compare policies. It's best to get a few quotes to compare before you buy - most insurance professionals recommend you check at least 3 to make sure you're getting a competitive rate for similar coverage. When you've thoroughly researched all your options, you can have peace of mind that you've got the best coverage your money can buy.