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I fear that I may be opening a can of worms here, and putting myself up for some abuse;- but I'm stuck anyway so here goes! So I've recently found myself in a sticky situation. I called up my Insurance Brokers, (one of the big, well known Arb insurance specialists), to renew my Public Liability policy. As I've done annually for the last 8 years I think, with no problem. This time they questioned the fact that I don't also have Employers Liability and then proceeded to give me a very hard sell, and I would say actually tried to bully me into taking it. I firmly refused as it's not worth it for me so they eventually said that they could not even give me the original Public Liability insurance. Their argument is that according to the HSE it is against the law to climb without a second climber on site, so the Public Liability would be invalid anyway if I was working alone. And if I am doing it "properly" and using a sub-contractor then I need the Employers Insurance to cover them. Some background. I'm a Sole Trader, doing a mix of tree surgery, general gardening and landscaping work. I occasionally have other people to help me out on bigger jobs but it's only a few times a year and always either my brother doing it for the crack or a mate for some beer money, so all very casual. Also, I only do this over the summer as I have a completely different job during the winter. I was paying about £350 for the P.L., if I was to have the E.L. as well it would be double that per year. It really wouldn't be worth it financially given my circumstances, the amount I earn from the tree surgery work. There's a few issues here, one obviously is the whole lone working thing. I didn't really want to get into a debate on the rights and wrongs of this here, it's been covered quite a lot already on Arbtalk. I recognise that it is a risk of course, but it's one that I am willing to take for now given the relatively small amount of climbing work that I do. As long as I am not endangering others then I believe that it's my risk to take. If I am using anyone else to help me then it can be their choice, I will be open about the fact that I have no E.L. insurance. The other issue is that of being correctly insured for all work that I do. Working without Public Liability is very much NOT what I want to do. I have always tried to "do things properly", in as much as being fully insured and having all my kit up-to-scratch w.r.t. Loler regs. I'd been with that insurance company for a number of years, they'd never asked too many questions and never pushed the E.L. on me. I don't know why they are suddenly insisting, I asked if the law had changed or something but they said no. I've not yet tried any of the other companies around but I'm concerned that they are going to take the same approach and say both policies or nothing at all. If that happens then I'll have a few options, none of them at all attractive. a) Lower myself to the ranks of the cowboys and work with no insurance b) Give up the climbing work altogether, (I could get P.L. but it would be limited to 5mtrs effectively meaning no climbing) c) Bite the bullet and take out the annual E.L. as well but that would mean very little profit from my tree work I'm now in a right quandary about what to do. Has anyone else been faced with a similar situation? Are there any companies that anyone knows of that will provide P.L. without E.L.? Or, if I could get the E.L. on an ad hoc basis that would be ideal. It makes no sense to pay for a whole year of cover if I'm only going to need it for a few occasions. If I could get the cover as needed on a daily basis I could be all "above board" with a clear conscience, without wasting lots of money. I'm sure this is an impossible dream unfortunately. Is it indeed strictly the case that it is against the law to climb without a second climber on site? I get the impression that it's a bit of a grey area. Cheers guys and gals.
Chichester tree surgeon loses damages claim against National Trust over accident which left him in a wheelchair (From The Argus) The case on the link above highlights the importance of Employer's Liability Insurance for both employer & employee. If you have any queries about insurance please call our team who would be happy to help - 0113 259 3560 The Arborisk Team