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T.H Tree Services Liability Insurance

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Is Your Tree Surgeon REALLY Insured?

Many tree services companies will claim to be insured for the work they carry out on your property, and they may well have an insurance policy to show you. However, the worrying fact is, the policy may not be worth the paper it is printed on. This is because many insurers will demand certain conditions are met, otherwise the cover won’t stand. In this post we reveal those conditions, and in doing so prove the vital importance of seeking a fully and relevantly qualified Essex, East London or North Kent tree surgeon.

As responsible, qualified tree surgeons, we decided it would be a good idea to go through our insurance policy with a fine tooth comb, so that we could be 100 per cent confident it would cover both us and our valued customers in the event of an issue arising.

One very important exclusion clause we found on our policy was a height limit for claims. The policy stated the insurer would not indemnify the insured for any work carried out above a height of 5 metres, unless they could provide a current copy of their City & Guilds NPTC CS39 (training and certification in aerial tree cutting operations). This is one of the many certifications we hold.

Lesson 1: if your tree surgeon or contractor does not hold NPTC CS39, then any insurance cover they might have is probably void. This means that should an accident occur resulting in damage to property or personal injury, neither they nor you will be covered. You should also check the insurance policy for any depth restrictions which apply when you are having stump grinding work undertaken.

If your tree surgeon or contractor does not hold NPTC CS39, then any insurance cover they might have is probably void.

If your tree surgeon or contractor does not hold NPTC CS39, then any insurance cover they might have is probably void.

Don’t forget, a home insurance policy will NOT generally provide cover for such liability and if you are a commercial operation, it is unlikely you will be covered if you cannot prove you applied due diligence in selecting a tree services contractor. More on this ‘duty of care’ below.

Another condition found in liability insurance policies is that the insured acts in accordance with English law.

Under English law, any tree surgeon providing a service in exchange for payment, either for domestic or commercial customers, is bound by the rules of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The HSE’s Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over work equipment. The Regulations provide that anyone using work equipment must be adequately trained in its use to a recognised standard. In the case of tree surgeons and arborists, this standard is the City & Guilds NPTC.

Further, the Approved Code of Practice for PUWER states that, “All workers who use a chainsaw should be competent to do so. Before using a chainsaw to carry out work on or in a tree, a worker should have received appropriate training and obtained a relevant certificate of competence or national competence award, unless they are undergoing such training and are adequately supervised.”

Lesson 2: if your tree surgeon or contractor does not hold City & Guilds NPTC certificates in the use of the equipment they are utilising for your job, or the relevant certificates of competence for the use of a chainsaw, then any insurance policy they may hold is likely to be void as they will be in breach of PUWER and therefore non-compliant with English law.

If your tree surgeon does not hold City & Guilds NPTC certificates in the use of the equipment they are utilising for your job, then then they will be in breach of PUWER and therefore non-compliant with English law.

If your tree surgeon does not hold City & Guilds NPTC certificates in the use of the equipment they are utilising for your job, then then they will be in breach of PUWER and therefore non-compliant with English law.

Duty of Care

Engaging an unqualified tree surgeon could therefore result in huge financial liability if an accident occurs during the works leading to property damage or personal injury. If the contractor’s insurance is void, it is unlikely that any policy you hold yourself – domestic or commercial – will cover you. This is because you would be in breach of your duty of care as an insured party, having selected a tree services company that did not hold the relevant qualifications and certifications.

In English law, an individual owes a duty of care to another any time they undertake or instigate an activity that could reasonably harm someone else. The duty of care involves having to take reasonable steps to prevent harm occurring and to warn others of dangerous situations.

Most insurers will state that if the occupier of a premises was not reasonable in employing a contractor or did not make sure that the contractor was adequately competent, then that occupier will be liable for any damage or injury caused by the negligence of the person carrying out the work on their premises under the Occupier’s Liability Act 1957.

A few years back the HSE reported a prosecution of a contractor that had hired a tree surgeon to carry out tree felling. The tree surgeon had felled a large branch from a 20-metre poplar tree in an uncontrolled manner, resulting in damage to a neighbour’s property. The neighbour had been given no warning to keep children or pets indoors, but luckily escaped injury on this occasion. The contractor was fined £2,000 plus £664 in costs for failing to check the tree surgeon was competent to carry out the operation in question.

Lesson 3: can you be ABSOLUTELY certain that your tree surgeon holds all the relevant qualifications and works competently within the guidelines set down by the HSE and by English law? If not, you could be in breach of your duty of care.

Can you be ABSOLUTELY certain that your tree surgeon holds all the relevant qualifications and works competently within the guidelines set down by the HSE and by English law?

Can you be ABSOLUTELY certain that your tree surgeon holds all the relevant qualifications and works competently within the guidelines set down by the HSE and by English law?

How to Check Competency

The bare minimum you must do when engaging a tree surgeon is double check their certifications and ensure they are relevant to the work that is being carried out. There are numerous certificates of competence so you must always check that everything matches up. For more information on the specific qualifications tree surgeons require and their definitions, please visit our Qualifications & Insurance page.

To prove you are taking your duty of care seriously, you may also wish to look for further proof that you are hiring a reliable, reputable, experienced and knowledgeable tree surgeon. Check:

  • How many years has the tree surgeon been trading?
  • What testimonials are available from recent customers?
  • Does the tree surgeon hold Trading Standards Buy With Confidence Scheme membership?
  • Are they local authority approved?
  • Do they hold British Standards accreditation?
  • Are they Safe4site accredited?

T.H. Tree Services recently achieved Safe4site Gold accreditation. Safe4site is an independent body that thoroughly vets companies to ensure they meet the full list of health and safety requirements as required by English law. Gold is the highest possible award and we are very proud of having achieved it. For more information on what this accreditation means, have a read of our Safe4site blog.

Safe4site Gold Approved

Safe4site Gold Approved

We hope this information has been useful and that the three lessons we’ve outlined have helped you appreciate the importance of only hiring suitably qualified tree surgeons. Remember, your safety and that of your family and neighbours, and your property, depends on you making an informed and astute choice.

Fantastic service

Polite, professional and tidy.The team were punctual, very polite, kept me well informed of what they were doing, anything I asked them wasn’t an inconvenience.Service with a smile and the tidy up job was fantastic too.I would certainly recommend TH Tree services and happily use them again.

Hi Mrs Easton, thank you for leaving a lovely review. The team are really pleased they come across professional and friendly.

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