When you hire a tree service provider, you'll likely check up on their prices, experience level and customer feedback. One thing you might overlook, however, is tree service insurance. Not only is carrying adequate insurance a sign of a professional Massachusetts tree company, but it also could give you, the customer, better protection.
Tree Service Insurance in Massachusetts: Breaking It Down
Tree service insurance covers a range of risks in Massachusetts. While the policy protects the tree service company against these risks, the reality is that you have direct or indirect exposure to the same risks. That's why there's nothing wrong with asking questions of a tree service company about it's coverage.
It's easy to overlook the risks of property damage when a company is working on your trees. For example, a tree that's mistakenly allowed to fall the wrong way could damage a roof or window. Branches that fall unexpectedly could damage your car. Wood chipper equipment that's faulty or used unsafely could cause damage with debris. Make sure the company has a policy with a suitably large payout limit.
Commercial Auto and Inland Marine
It is smart in a state like Massachusetts to incorporate commercial auto and inland marine coverage to their policies, especially because of the tough winters. These policy elements protect the company against damage to their vehicles while driving between jobs, as well as damage to their equipment while in transit. Of course, it's the company that bears the big financial risk if this damage happens. However, from a practical perspective, if the company suffers such damage and doesn't have the means to quickly replace vehicles and equipment, it could mean serious delays to the work on your site.
Workers' Compensation and Tree Service Insurance
This is the big one. There can be a temptation for tree service companies to get only the minimum level of workers' compensation required in their state, particularly as such companies often have few employees. The problem is that an inadequately insured company may be unable to pay out if a worker is injured, which is (literally) an elevated risk in tree work. It's possible the worker could then look at suing you over the injury because it happened on your property. Whether or not such a claim has any merit, it could still be a costly and stressful experience defending the claim.
Never be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions about tree service insurance for your Massachusetts home. If a company uses terms like "insured" or "fully insured," be sure to ask exactly what components this covers and check that the payout limits are adequate. Remember that a professional, reputable company has nothing to hide and will be happy to answer your questions.