ArborTimes Winter 2023

Managing Exposure with Proactive Insurance Audits By Emily W. Duane

Tree care can be dangerous work that puts a business, its assets and people at risk physically and financially, not to mention the risk to clients, their neigh- bors and the community. It may seem like a reach to include neighbors and communities, but consider each time a tree removal is done and the risk it pres- ents to neighboring properties, or every time a fleet vehicle is on the road to and from a job site. Insurance exists to offer financial coverage in the event of an accident or incident. “If you think about the concept of insurance, it transfers risk to a third party so you can maintain expenses and eliminate bud- get surprises,” says Mark Shipp, senior executive vice president with HUB Inter- national. Aer all, not many owners have thousands of dollars, or more, in available funds to cover the costs when something large or small happens. So, an owner has invested in insurance because it’s simply a cost of doing busi- ness—now what? Insurance shouldn’t be a set-it-and-forget-it tool. Proactively considering key things throughout the year will ensure that the policies in place are going to work for the premi- ums paid. For example, is it the right or enough coverage? Is the insurance agent or broker a good partner? Has anything happened throughout the year that affects current coverages? While there may not be a single time of year that is ideal for every business own- er to sit down and consider these ques- tions, they do need to be addressed at least once each year. These are some tips to proactively approach the annual insur- ance audit, plus additional things to con- sider about insuring a tree care company. To clarify how this article is using the term “audit,” it is meant to explain holis-

tically looking at all aspects of your risk and coverage. It’s not meant to be con- fused with the annual workers’ compen- sation audit, when the carrier looks at your payroll exposure at the end of the year, which is just one part of an annual insurance audit. CONSIDERING THE INSURANCE PARTNER By and large, the best insurance partner is one with experience in the tree care industry. Other agents may insure a busi- ness’ assets for a great rate, but poten- tially at the significant cost of not under- standing all facets of a tree care business.

“Cheap insurance from a generalist may work for a little while, but when you buy a large piece of equipment, your insur- er might not cover it because they don’t understand the industry and might even cancel your policies because of risks re- lated to chemical application or working above certain heights,” says Jeffry Black- man, program manager for ArborMAX with Eydent Insurance. Being under in- sured can lead to a similar financial crisis as being uninsured, so truly comparing apples to apples is very important to en- sure the coverage is appropriate. A great insurance partner should proac- tively reach out prior to a policy’s end

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