FORESTRY work is a high-risk business, so it is important to have the correct insurance cover in place.

Responding to increased demand from the burgeoning sector, H and H Insurance Brokers has launched a range of specialist insurance options for tree surgeons, arborists, landscapers forestry contractors, and groundworkers.

After consulting with the arboriculture and horticulture sectors, account executive Natalie Carr – based in Cumbria and married to a tree surgeon herself – has highlighted the key areas to look out for when seeking liability cover, and how to ensure the right indemnity is in place for employers, the public and contractors. :

“With tree surgery, the most important thing to address and cover in a policy is the height," said Mrs Carr. "Most of the policies will restrict on height, and this is something that we’ve been working to help with. Sometimes people don’t realise how big a tree is, and if it is over the maximum permitted height they would then be liable. As long as clients are compliant to all the other insurance requirements, have all the necessary legislative training and all the National Proficiency Test Council Certificates or the equivalent, we do not put a height restriction on the policy.”

It is also important to have the correct cover for other risks such as hiring tools, storing forestry equipment, using machinery – whether hired, leased, or owned items – and its theft or damage. In addition, understanding the requirements of such cover is key, for example if tools or equipment are not correctly stored as per the policy, this may result in the insurer refusing to pay a claim.

“Insurance protection for the arboriculture, landscaping and forestry trade should also include employers, workers, public liability, and professional indemnity," she said. "This is cover for someone who, for example, advises on forestry plantations and wants to protect themselves on any claim that may come back.

“In this sector, many face dangers of working at height, with power tools, but I must stress trees which are near overhead electricity lines should not be worked on, instead the local electricity provider such as ENWL should be contacted as they have a specialist team to deal with this, likewise work near railway lines. So, with this heavy liability, safety cover at the right level of insurance is paramount.”

There are incidents where operatives have inadvertently suffered injury from a cut tree or branch within the ‘drop zone’. H and H are advising to be safe by sticking to the two-tree rule when calculating the exclusion zone, because the risks at ground level should never be underestimated, including risk to persons and property.

“No one wants property damage from contractors who don’t have the correct insurance in place. As we head towards autumn, I would suggest to anyone thinking about smarting up their garden, always check to make sure whoever you employ to do the work has the appropriate cover. You don’t want them going up a tree, a branch falling on your house then to find out they’re not covered.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for us to bring our significant experience to a sector with diverse needs, as these specialisms dovetail with our other products offered through H and H Safety, as legislation is constantly changing in this line of business."