Government warned by arborists

Arboritsts warn Government of looming crisis over liability cover

The Government is being warned that arboricultural firms could go to the wall if insurance companies will not take on cover for them. At a meeting called by the Arboricultural Association at its Hampshire headquarters on 5 August, representatives of the trade and the forestry sector discussed the seriousness of the problem, including the fact that there appeared to be only one forestry and arboriculture insurance scheme open to new business — Algarve being the broker and AXA the insurer. A particular worry was employers’ liability insurance and with claim numbers increasing and their value exceeding premiums, they feared AXA and others might discontinue. This would leave companies without employers’ liability, which is required by law. In a joint statement they expressed some of their fears for the future. It said: “Claim numbers have increased as a result of the compensation culture, encouraged by legislation permitting conditional fee arrangements — or no win, no fee actions. In addition to this, the level of awards for compensation has risen steeply as a result of further changes in legislation and reflecting the current economic climate. Legal fees are estimated to account for 40 per cent of all claims costs.” The delegates agreed on a joint approach to the Government that would include a letter outlining the specific problems they face. Arboricultural Association director Nick Eden told the meeting that an idea some had suggested —becoming self-employed — would not work because they would still need employers’ liability. “There is certainly a chance that if companies cannot get employers’ liability insurance, they will have to close down,” he said. The whole subject will be discussed at an open forum at the end of the Arboricultural Association’s conference on September 17. It is hoped that a representative from the Government will attend.

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