Contributor, Benzinga
December 10, 2021

The arborist profession is one of the most dangerous in the United States. Grounds maintenance workers and tree trimmers have fatality rates of about 3 times the national average — nonfatal accidents and property damage are common as well. A comprehensive business insurance policy can protect you from a costly lawsuit, damage to your equipment and much more.

Do you have insurance for your business? If you don’t, you might be putting yourself and your clients at risk. Our guide to arborist insurance will help you understand your options and begin searching for a policy. 

There is a wide range of companies offering insurance options for arborists, and the companies you have access to may vary depending on the nature of your business and where you live. Not sure where to begin your search? Consider a few of our top picks below and get a quote in as little as a few minutes. 

Types of Arbor Insurance

When you start comparing your arborist insurance options, you’ll quickly notice that each coverage provides a unique type of protection. You might need multiple protections depending on the nature of your business and how your business is organized. Let’s take a look at some of the most common coverages arborists purchase.  

General Liability Insurance

General liability is a catch-all insurance that protects your business from lawsuits. If you or your work injures someone or damages their property, they can sue you for the cost of medical bills or an item’s replacement. When you account for the cost of a lawyer to defend you in court and court-awarded judgments (which can quickly reach hundreds of thousands of dollars) a single lawsuit has the potential to bankrupt your business. This is why it’s crucial that all arborists carry some form of general liability insurance.

Most liability insurance policies include at least the following 3 types of coverages.

  • 3rd-party bodily injury: If you injure a client in the course of your work and they sue you for medical bills, this coverage helps cover legal fees and court-awarded medical expenses.
  • 3rd-party property damage: If you damage a client’s property while working, they might sue you for the cost of a repair or replacement. Like your 3rd-party bodily injury coverage, this property damage coverage helps you cover legal fees and court-awarded judgements.
  • Advertising injuries: When you advertise your business’ services, you might accidentally slander another company or copy their copyrighted slogan. Advertising injuries coverage compensates you if another business owner brings you to court over an issue of defamation, slander or copyright infringement.

Your general liability insurance will only compensate you if someone else brings you to court — it won’t cover any of your own bills. For example, if you feel that you’ve been the victim of defamation, your general liability insurance won’t cover the cost of bringing the suit to court. However, it will help you pay for your legal fees if someone else decides to sue you. 

Commercial Property Insurance

Commercial property insurance is a type of protection that compensates you if someone else damages your property. Your commercial property insurance extends to more than just the physical building where you work from — most policies also include coverage for:  

  • Computers and data storage units
  • Furniture and equipment (some policies limit coverage for heavy machinery and specialized equipment)
  • Exterior signs
  • Fencing and landscapes
  • Important documents you store on site
  • Inventory and products you use to conduct your business

Commercial property insurance is similar to homeowner’s insurance for your business space. If your property or your commercial space sustains damage caused by a peril included in your policy, your insurance provides you with compensation up to your policy limits. Your commercial property insurance also compensates you if your property is vandalized or stolen.

Also like homeowner’s insurance policies, your commercial property insurance will also likely include excluded perils. Some of the most common excluded perils include earthquakes and flooding. If your commercial property is damaged by an excluded peril, you won’t be able to claim a payout from your insurance and you’ll need to cover damages out-of-pocket. If you work in an area where flooding or earthquakes are common, you may need to purchase a separate policy or a policy extension called an “endorsement” to get coverage. 

Product Liability Insurance

If you sell a product as a part of your business, it’s a good idea to purchase product liability insurance. Product liability insurance compensates you if you sell a defective product to a customer that causes damage or loss in some way. If the customer or client decides to sue you, your product liability insurance covers the cost of defending yourself in court. It will also help you pay for any court-ordered judgments for the plaintiff. 

Workers’ Compensation 

Working as an arborist can be dangerous. It’s essential that all arborists who own a business and who hire at least 1 employee have workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance is a type of coverage that compensates your employees if they’re injured while performing work-related duties. If your employee loses his life while on the job, your workers’ comp insurance will also help the victim’s family cover funeral expenses and final arrangements.

Workers’ compensation laws vary by state. Depending on where your business operates, you could be required to purchase workers’ comp insurance as soon as you hire your first employee. You might also be required to maintain at least a certain level of this coverage to operate your business legally. Be sure to speak with an insurance agent to get a better understanding of your area’s laws before you purchase a policy.

An important note: Your workers’ compensation will only offer payouts to individuals who you employ full-time or part-time. If you’re injured while working, your workers’ compensation insurance won’t help you cover your own medical bills as the policyholder. 

Cost of Arbor Insurance

As a general rule, you can expect to pay more for your business insurance as an arborist when you compare policy options to lower-risk occupations. This is because arborists are statistically more likely to be injured or damage property while performing their work. Some factors that could influence the price you’ll pay for your arborist insurance include:

  • Your location: If your business is located in an area where thefts, fires or other covered perils are common, you’re more likely to need to file an insurance claim. This raises the price that you’ll pay for coverage.
  • Nature of your business: The nature of your business also affects how much you’ll pay for insurance based on the risk you take while working. For example, arborists who fell trees regularly will pay more for their coverage when compared to those who only provide trimming services.
  • The number of employees you have: The more employees you have on your payroll, the more likely you would file an insurance claim. This means that your workers’ compensation costs increase as you hire more full-time or part-time employees.
  • Your experience: New businesses present a risk to insurance companies because they aren’t sure that you’ll follow all recommended safety practices. If you have years of experience with no claims on your record, you’ll pay less for insurance.

On average, an arborist can expect to pay between $47 to $89 per month for insurance. However, the best way to get a solid understanding of how much you’ll actually pay is to collect a few quotes from competing insurance providers. 

How Arbor Insurance Works

The term “arborist insurance” doesn’t refer to a single specific insurance policy type. Instead, it refers to a group of coverages that arborists often use to protect themselves from liabilities that are common to their field.

Most arborists purchase a general liability insurance policy to protect themselves from lawsuits, a commercial property insurance policy to compensate them for damage to their commercial property or equipment and a workers’ compensation policy up to their state’s minimum. You might be able to save money by combining your commercial property insurance with your general liability insurance with a single business owner’s policy.

Try Simply Business

Simply Business offers a comprehensive suite of business insurance that specializes in making it easy to insure your business. 

Whether you’re looking for construction workers' insurance or insurance for your startup, Simply Business helps you find the right coverage at the right price. This includes arborists, tree service firms, landscapers, nurseries, etc. 

Tell Simply Business a little bit about your business and you'll get almost-instantaneous affordable quotes from top insurance providers. You can look into workers’ comp insurance, business owner’s plans, liability insurance, commercial auto and more that will cover everyone on your team, and you can get covered in accordance with state law without overspending. 

Building your business is hard enough. Let Simply Business make it easier. Get a quote from Simply Business today.

What Insurance Do You Need?

As an arborist, understanding the insurance coverages you’ll need is crucially important to both you and your employees. The best way to start learning more about your insurance options is to begin comparing quotes from a few competing insurance providers. Exploring multiple types of insurance and comparing policy plans will help you fully understand what your business is covered for — and what expenses you’ll need to pay on your own. 

About Sarah Horvath

Sarah is an expert in the insurance, investing for retirement and cryptocurrency space.