Arborists must take safety at work more seriously or “the last man standing” will stop insuring them.
Managing director David Hewitt of Algarve Insurance Brokers, the only insurance company taking new business from arborists, told the Arboricultural Association conference: “If premiums rise any further, businesses will shut or trade illegally without insurance.”
He said the practice is already widespread. “Unless people really work to get their own businesses in order and try to make the industry safer, with current trends in compensation there’s only one way premiums will go, and that’s up.”
The vice president of the International Society of Arboriculture UK, Glenn Gorner, told the conference the situation could jeopardise government efforts to raise the standard of urban living. “CABE Space wants to raise the standard of urban living, but a lot of what we do could be more difficult if we have a breakdown in cover,” he said.
The conference, which was held last month at University College Northampton, addressed the problem that most insurance firms underwriting arborists have pulled out and the rest are charging more for new business or taking no new customers and charging the old ones more.
An Arboricultural Association
representative said: “Payments now exceed premiums by 500 per cent. It’s a lot to do with compensation culture, no-win no-fee solicitors and the size of awards the courts are now producing.
“If someone puts their foot in a chipper you’re looking at a £2 million claim, even though he has been on the courses and is wearing the correct safety gear.”
Only two insurers still run schemes for the industry: MIG (brokered by Brent Kesek), which is doing no new business; and Axa (brokered by Algarve).
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