Hiring a skilled and experienced tree removal company is your best bet when it comes to safely and quickly removing problematic trees. However, you'll want to be careful about the company you choose to take care of your tree removal needs. Here are some tips on what to avoid when hiring a tree removal company:
Companies Not Licensed or Insured
While most companies are properly licensed and insured, there are a few out there that often forego those important credentials. Many of these companies find carrying the proper insurance to be expensive and time-consuming, but there are plenty of good reasons why you'd want a company that has all of its credentials together:
- Workers' compensation insurance covers the tree company's workforce if they're injured while on the job. Without it, not only is the company held directly responsible for the medical bills and other damages related to the incident, but you could be on the hook for those damages. It's not out of the ordinary for homeowners to get stuck with a tree company employee's medical bills and lost wages, simply because the company didn't have worker's compensation insurance.
- Depending on your municipality, unlicensed tree companies may be operating illegally. It's also tougher to recover damages caused by an unlicensed tree removal service through litigation. In addition, your homeowner's insurance may not cover damages done by an unlicensed service.
Always ask to see proof of the company's license and insurance, preferably when the company comes out for an estimate. Both should be current and up-to-date. Don't hesitate to follow up with your state's licensing board and the company's insurance provider to verify both credentials.
Companies That Start Work without Getting the Right Permits
The tree removal company you've chosen may be ready to get started, but no work should take place before the right permits are pulled. Nevertheless, some tree removal services may worry about getting the work done first and pulling permits second. This could come back to haunt you if any injuries or damages take place as the company works without a permit. In many cases, you could also be fined for having trees removed without the proper permits in place.
This is why it's important to make sure your tree removal company can pull the proper permits before performing any tree removal work. As with licensing and permits, don't hesitate to get physical proof of those permits before allowing any work to take place on your property.
Keep in mind that some municipalities don't require permits for removing dead trees or certain trees specifically exempted by the municipality. These exemptions can vary, however, so it's always a good idea to double-check just in case.
Companies That Recommend Topping
Some tree removal companies practice "topping," a form of tree pruning that involves trimming all of the leaf-producing branches back to their stubs. In theory, topping is supposed to reduce the likelihood of falling branches during storm activity and prevent trees from interfering with overhead power lines and other obstructions.
However, topping often causes long-term damage to trees. Not only does it rob them of nutrients, but the subsequent depletion of its reserves can actually weaken the tree and make it more susceptible to storm-related damage. Topping also leaves trees more vulnerable to fungal decay and insect infestations, resulting in a weakened tree with little ability to fight back and thrive. It's also not the most attractive way of pruning a tree, as you're left with unattractive stubs afterwards.
Most professional tree removal services won't use topping when managing existing trees. Instead, many companies use drop-crotching as a way to prune mature trees while maintaining their original shape. It's a good idea to seek tree removal companies that use this and other alternatives to topping.