02 Oct Common Risks Facing The Tree Care Industry (And How To Avoid Them)
The tree care industry is very dangerous. The CDC reports an average of 80 deaths annually, most due to tree trimming and arborist services.
A 2010 study concluded the single source of the most fatalities was electrocution, followed by falls, but a tree care business faces many other risks. OSHA also includes improper traffic control, injuries from falling object within a drop zone, improper use of chippers and aerial lifts, but there’s more.
Financial Risk is High
Your tree care company also faces serious financial risk if any of the following occurs:
- An employee damages the property of others
- Someone’s injured or becomes ill due to your company’s negligence, an equipment malfunction, or through the use of toxic chemicals, such as pesticides
- Your company provides advice to a customer which leads to a financial loss
Without protection, your business will face the brunt of lawsuits and attorney’s fees, settlements, fines and penalties, and medical bills. Basically, you jeopardize your assets and your future earnings.
Protecting Your Tree Care Business
A tree care business needs many of the same coverages as most companies, but your insurance agent tailors it to your industry. These are a few of the most commonly recommended:
- General liability insurance- ample protection against property damage and injury claims. Your agent can ensure it includes pesticide and herbicide applicator coverage.
- Professional liability insurance – for companies providing landscaping and tree care advice to protect them from liability claims for negligence, or services or advice that leads to client financial loss.
- Product liability insurance – for companies selling equipment or chemicals to clients to protect them from damage or injury claims.
- Business property insurance – to protect your business premises (rented or owned), equipment, and tools stored on the property.
- Inland marine insurance – to protect equipment and cargo transported between job sites, not on your business premises.
- Business interruption insurance – to provide temporary relief for wages and overhead if your business must cease operations.
The Importance of Workers’ Compensation
In California, even if you only have a single employee, you need to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Failure to provide coverage can result in serious fines and penalties, not to mention uncovered, expensive claims.
Many states allow sole proprietors and LLC owners to “opt out” of coverage. However, the Tree Care Industry Association and others such as the Georgia Arborist Association suggest ALL tree care companies opt-in for workers’ compensation coverage, regardless of business size since the risk is so high. The owner and any officers visiting job sites should be on the policy too.
Discuss your needs with your independent insurance agent. They will access your risks and liabilities, including the specific work you perform since different activities merit particular coverage.
You may also want to consider coverage for the loss, damage or theft of your tools and equipment and have proper commercial vehicle insurance for your vans or trucks.
Don’t put your tree care business at unnecessary risk. You work in a dangerous industry and have everything to lose.