Cutting trees can be extremely dangerous even if you are experienced. A chainsaw, in itself, can be a dangerous tool and should be handled with extreme caution. Falling or splitting trees, falling branches and “spring poles,” to name a few, are common hazards of tree cutting. Cutting trees near buildings and other obstacles adds complication and risk to the equation. The list of things that can go wrong is endless.
If you need tree work done near your home and you are not trained to do it yourself, you should consider hiring a competent, professional tree service or individual to do the work. Such professionals should be trained at all aspects of tree cutting, and in how to avoid most hazards. They should also be a licensed arborist(s) and be fully insured. When I say “fully insured”, I mean they should not only have General Liability insurance, but more importantly, they should have Workman’s Compensation Insurance (Workman’s Comp).
Many tree service providers advertise "fully insured" but do not carry Workman's Comp Insurance, especially if it’s an individual with no employees. My opinion is that the Workman’s Comp is more important than the Liability insurance for one simple reason. If someone drops a tree and damages your property, and they don’t offer to pay for the damages (or have their insurance company pay), then your homeowners insurance will likely cover it. But, if someone gets hurt (or killed) on your property, the medical costs and lost wages can be astronomical, potentially more than your homeowners insurance is willing to pay.
If a worker is injured or killed on your property, without proper insurance in place, he/she (or their family) is likely to seek compensation from you. To be sure that your tree service provider is covered by Workman's Comp, ask them to have their insurance company issue you a “certificate of insurance” that includes Workman's Comp. If their insurance company issues you a certificate, and the tree company or individual cancels their insurance, you will be notified. Allowing any tree service provider (or any contractor for that matter) to work on your property without proper insurance could put your assets at risk.
Workman's Comp is very expensive, so a tree service provider can save money by not carrying it, thus they can work cheaper. It may be tempting to take advantage of the lower price, but my advice is “don’t do it.” You may be sorry if someone gets hurt. And, if you decide to tackle those trees yourself, double-check your health and disability insurances first (and your spouse) and then, BE CAREFUL.
The author is the General Manager of Naples-based Q-Team Tree Service and is a Licensed Arborist. You can contact him at 207-693-3831 or at www.Q-Team.com