Home General News Beware of Unlicensed Tree Companies & Insurance Fraud after storms

Beware of Unlicensed Tree Companies & Insurance Fraud after storms


Beware of Unlicensed Tree Companies & Insurance Fraud after storms

MAY 10, 2024

In the past, after storms, deceptive contractors from out of town offering tree services have been known to price gouge, perform insurance fraud, and take money from their customers before any work is done and not come back or finish the work as promised.  Sometimes unlicensed contractors are also found by potential customers though internet sites that find contractors for them but do not check to see if the companies they represent are licensed.  Most established professional businesses are capable of invoicing their customers or waiting to receive payment until the job is done to the customer’s satisfaction.

If someone is going door to door looking for work, or from out of state looking for work in our area, you should be asking; Why don’t they have enough business where they come from? Or, if they are a locally established business, shouldn’t they be getting calls from people who need help with storm damage?  Don’t assume that local tree services will be too busy to help.  There are over 35 contractors listed as licensed by the City of Evansville, Department of Urban Forestry website.

Beware of insurance fraud and deals that sound “too good to be true”.  There have been cases in the past where contractors would have their customers sign an estimate form or agreement that had a blank amount and tell the customer ‘not to worry, because they would bill their insurance company for the full amount’.  Then, the contractor would bill the insurance for much more than what the work was for, the insurance company would deny the claim, and the contractor would later bill the customer for the difference according the blank signed form the customer signed that the contractor later filled out.  The police may even get involved with an insurance fraud investigation, not just investigating the company, but also investigating the customer.  Always get an estimate clearly filled out that describes the work to be done and the total amount.  Don’t hire contractors who refuse to write a full amount on the estimate for work claiming that they can’t.

Deceptive contractors are very difficult to catch, especially if they do not have you sign a legitimate contract.  They often claim that they are “licensed and insured,” but are not.  We highly recommend that homeowners in Evansville only hire tree companies that are licensed by the City of Evansville to do tree removals or pruning, which is a requirement for their license.  Homeowners can call our office or check our web site to ensure they are licensed or visit www.evansville.in.gov/urbanforestry.   Ask for a copy of their certificate of insurance followed by a call to their insurance company to verify the policy is still active.  Don’t hire companies that will not prove that they are insured.  You can also check with the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org. 

If you suspect a contractor is not licensed by the City, please call our office to let us know at 812-436-5752.  Shawn Dickerson, City Arborist, City of Evansville, Department of Urban Forestry