What is Professional Tree Care?
We believe a professional tree care business should have the relevant knowledge, experience, credentials, licensing, and insurance that meets or exceeds legal requirements as well as voluntary industry standards. Aspect Tree Care is owned by Scott Sinner, a Certified Arborist with experience in arboriculture since 2013, and a proponent of modern, evidence-based tree care. We are proud to uphold everything written in this article.
Always hire an ISA Certified Arborist. This certification is the industry gold standard. It guarantees that an arborist is trained and knowledgeable in all aspects of arboriculture. Certified Arborists adhere to a code of ethics, perform all work to ANSI A300 standards, and follow workplace safety requirements set in ANSI Z133 . Continuing education and recertification is required every three years .
Tree care businesses in Utah are not required to have a Certified Arborist on staff, so it is recommended to ask or check for credentials on their website. You can also find a Certified Arborist or check a credential here: https://www.treesaregood.org/findanarborist.
Tree Care businesses are required to license their business with both the state and their local municipality. Utah companies that use pesticides are required to be a licensed Commercial Pesticide Business, with all applicators holding a Commercial Pesticide Applicators license . Contractor’s licenses are not applicable to tree care businesses unless they also engage in construction work .
When hiring a tree care business, there are three types of insurance coverage that concern the property owner. General liability, professional liability, and workers’ compensation all exist to protect employers, employees, and property owners in case of an accident. A reputable business will be incentivized to carry these coverages to protect themselves. A smaller, unknown company without much to lose financially may be less likely to carry this type of coverage. Protect yourself from liability by making sure the company you hire has full coverage. Request a Certificate of Insurance (COI) if you are unsure.
The most important insurance coverage is general liability. It protects both the business and the property owner in case of personal injury or property damage . The standard amount of coverage is a “1 million/2 million” policy, which means that the insurance company will pay up to $1 million in a single claim, but not more than $2 million in one year . Companies may have smaller or larger amounts of coverage depending on the nature of their business .
If an uninsured tree care company damages property or injures someone, the company is still liable, but it’s unlikely it will have the funds to cover costs, especially if it’s an LLC, which protects the owner from personal liability. Make sure a tree care business has general liability insurance with adequate coverage amounts.
Work comp is another important type of coverage. Its primary purpose is to financially protect employees and employers in the event of an accident involving an employee, but it also protects property owners. It is a legal requirement for all tree care businesses with employees in Utah . However, some companies find loopholes to make them appear compliant, but when an accident happens, the property owner may be liable.
Because a business owner is usually exempt from work comp requirements, a work comp policy is only needed for businesses that have employees. Some businesses may intentionally misclassify their workers as independent contractors to claim exemption status and cut costs . When one of their workers is injured, they may face insurance fraud inquiries, and the property owner may be liable for the costs .
Additionally, some companies may present a COI for a work comp ghost policy, making it appear as though their misclassified workers are covered or exempt. Low-budget ghost policies are available legally for owners and independent contractors that have no employees . They are little more than a formality and provide almost no real protection.
Make sure the tree care business you hire classifies their workers as w-2 employees, or hires legitimate independent contractors, and that they are covered by work comp insurance.
A property owner hires an arborist for their expertise. If an arborist fails to perform work according to industry standards and or gives bad advice resulting in future damage or loss, it would be out of the scope of general liability, and instead covered by professional liability .
1. International Society of Arboriculture. https://www.isa-arbor.com/
2. Commercial Pesticide Licensing.
3. Utah Commerce–Division of Professional Licensing
4. ArboRisk Insurance–Insurance and Risk Management for Tree Care Companies. https://arboriskinsurance.com/
5. How Much Is General Liability Insurance? By Rosalie Murphy
6. Employers’ Guide to Workers’ Compensation–©2020 Utah Labor Commission
7. Ghost Policies & Workers' Comp Insurance. By Gerald Hanks.