Superstorm Sandy left hundreds of downed trees and limbs in its wake. Property owners should use caution in hiring someone to clean up the aftermath.
“Just because someone has the tools and self-proclaimed knowhow, doesn’t mean they are certified with the state,” said Marian Honeczy, supervisor of the Maryland Department of Natural Resource’s Urban and Community Forestry. “Be wary of those who show up unsolicited after a storm looking to perform tree work. Take your time and do your research.”
Maryland has a consumer protection law requiring anyone who advertises or does work involving tree trimming, treatment or removal to be registered as a licensed tree expert. Licensed experts are required to carry insurance that covers tree care work. Therefore, if property damage or personal injury occurs during the tree work, the licensed worker’s insurance will cover it. Unlicensed workers are not always covered by a customer’s home insurance.
Following bad storms and high winds it is not uncommon for people to go door-to-door in Allegany and Garrett counties offering to remove trees or dangling branches. But some of these workers can cause the property owner more harm than good.
The DNR has some common-sense steps for property owners to follow when they are solicited by tree trimmers:
• Ask for the Maryland Licensed Tree Expert number, and verify it at: dnr.state.md.us/forests/
• Request a copy of their certificate of insurance.
• Never pay the full amount before all work is completed as per the contract.
• Ask questions. Ask them to explain how they are going to do the job, ask for references, and then look them up.
• Find out if the tree service advocates tree topping, a harmful practice. If they do, avoid hiring the company.
• Gather multiple estimates for the proposed work.
• Obtain a written work contract that states the work to be performed and the cost.