Follow these steps to make sure you don’t end up with a nightmare story to share with your grandchildren after hiring a tree service contractor.
5 Simple Steps to follow when hiring a tree service.
1. Get verifiable insurance certificates. (If you don’t read anything else on this site, read this!)
There are many types of insurance out there to keep track of these days. Car insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, ect. When a company says they are licensed and insured, you hope that doesn’t just mean they have a driver’s license and vehicle insurance on the pick-up truck they drive, but how would you know? We always recommend customers insist on getting verifiable copies of insurance paperwork with every estimate. The following types of insurance are most important when hiring a tree service company:
1. General Liability Insurance.
This is the insurance that covers property damage (note: it does not cover injuries.) If a tree service fells a tree and if falls the wrong way ending up in your kitchen, this is the insurance that covers the damage. Policies usually have limits between $250,000-$2,000,000. JLH Tree Service carries 2 million in general liability coverage, because we want to make sure our customers know that they are well covered in the event of an accident.
2. Worker’s Compensation Insurance.
This is an important type of insurance to check for because if you hire a company that does not have this coverage in place and someone gets hurt, you may be held responsible for the injury. Some people just assume that their homeowners insurance would cover this, but in most cases, homeowner policies do not cover contractors. Some companies will tell you they have “Worker’s Comp. Exemption.” This is only available for up to 3 company owners/officers, and so if the owner has “helpers” on the job-site they are not exempt, and you could be held responsible if they are injured. If you are working with a company claiming exemption, make sure that you have documentation of who is actually exempt and make sure those are the only people present when the work is being done.
Again, we always recommend that customers should get copies of these 2 types of policies, and call the insurance company to verify the policy is active, before agreeing to having the work done. The good news is that when you get a quote from JLH Tree Service, we attach these forms to your written estimate, so you don’t even have to request them. This is just one of the many ways our company goes the extra mile to provide our customers with a stress-free tree care experience.
2. Always insist on getting a written estimate.
This seems obvious, right? But, we’re amazed at how often customers do not get a written estimate from other companies. If the agreement is not in writing, there is a lot of room for confusion and error regarding what was included in the price that you were quoted. Getting everything in writing is an essential part of making sure your tree care experience does not turn into a nightmare. It also makes it much easier to make comparisons if you get estimates from multiple companies. When a representative of JLH Tree Service provides you with an estimate, we always give a detailed quote for each individual item on your list. That way you know exactly what is included and how the price is broken down, and you can make decisions accordingly.
3. Hire a Certified Arborist.
Because there is no state licensing requirement for becoming a tree care “professional” anybody with a chainsaw and a pickup truck can claim to be a tree expert. There are actually a whole set of standards set forth by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) which outline proper pruning and care of trees. This set of standards is called the ANSI A300. Certified Arborists are required to follow these standards in order to maintain their certification. If you mention the A300 standards during an estimate and the estimator gives you a “deer in headlights” look, you should probably find someone else to hire. You can learn more about what a certified arborist is by clicking here:
4. Ask questions about how the work will be conducted?
In many cases it is helpful to the property owner to know how the work will be conducted.
- What equipment will be used? Will there be heavy trucks or equipment on my lawn that could cause damage to my grass or irrigation system?
- How long will the project take?
- Will climbing spikes be used on trees being pruned? (See section below for more information on this).
- Does the company follow the ANSI A300 standards?
These are all great questions that prevent you from running into surprises on the day the work is being conducted.
5. Never let anyone “top” your trees, or use spikes on a tree being pruned.
Topping trees is a bad for several reasons. There are ways to reduce the overall height of a tree, or simply make it safer, without implementing this harmful practice.
Spikes should never be used on a tree unless the tree is in the process of being cut down. You can read more about these practices here.
(Courtesy of Treesaregood.org)