Author Archives: Guest Author

Custom Truck’s Tornado F4 Hydrovac Honors Military at WWETT Show

Beau Feerick poses in front of a new Tornado Hydrovac unit his company, Hydrovac Solutions, has on display at the WWETT Show in Indianapolis this week. Feerick helped with the graphics on the truck, but Thursday marked the first time he had seen the unit in person.



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Although he helped with some design input, Beau Feerick says it was still surreal to see the hydrovac rig he would be driving back home following this year’s Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport (WWETT) Show in Indianapolis.

The Tornado Hydrovac unit, on display in the Custom Truck’s booth is an eye-catching matte black rig with a wrap on it dedicated to the U.S. military branches.

“It’s going to be an honor to drive something like this, just to honor the guys that have served and fallen for our country,” says Feerick, who is an operator for Louisiana-based Hydrovac Solutions. “My company and I worked on this a little bit to make sure it was perfect and there were no hiccups, to make sure we were honoring the guys who served.”

Feerick, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2010 to 2014 and then did a short period with the reserve force afterward, says he traded about 100 text messages back and forth with Custom Truck to get the machine just right.

The debris tank displays American flag stripes along with a U.S. military member in combat gear. The soldier is standing next to a colored U.S. flag and then the Hydrovac Solutions company logo is printed on the tank as well.

The cab of the truck has stars scattered, and printed on the heated cabinet on each side of the truck is a soldier with the American flag draped over his shoulder. The hydroexcavator also has the emblems of the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force.

“I don’t think my boss is going to let me touch it,” Feerick says. “It’s going to go back to the shop, they’re going to show it off for a couple of companies and then I’ll take it out on the road.”

Feerick has been with Hydrovac Solutions for eight years. He started with the company after earning his CDL from his reserve unit.

“With this truck, a percentage of each ticket per day will go to a fund of their choice — Wounded Warriors, Raiders, anything that they want to donate we will do that in their name,” Feerick says. “And we’ll match that with a donation in our name.”

Now Feerick has to wait until the show wraps up on Saturday before he can make the trek back to the Hydrovac Solutions office with it.

“I want to hop in and go to work now,” Feerick says.


This article first appeared in’s website. You may view the article here.

Heat Wave Strains Texas Power Grid

This blog is contributed by The Bobtail, National Propane Gas Association’s newsletter.


According to a recent report by the Energy Information Administration the power grid in Texas, the nation’s second most populous state, saw a record for hourly demand in June and July of this year. Previously, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ (ERCOT) hourly demand record was 79,830 megawatt-hours (MWh) on July 20, 2022. This previous record was broken every day from June 26 to June 29 of this year with the highest demand being more than 80,000 MWh. Record-high temperatures continued throughout July and were topped in the middle of the month when demand peaked at over 82,000 MWh.

Texans plugged in and cranked up their air conditioning and other cooling equipment at record numbers to cope with the sweltering heat wave moving through the state. As more Texans plugged into the grid, increased output was needed to meet elevated demand in order to avoid blackouts. As many states throughout the country face record heat this summer, it is a sound reminder as to why abundant and reliable deliverable fuels such as propane need to be kept in the energy mix.

Consumer usage of propane during peak demand times takes aggregate pressure off of the grid, ensuring grid stability during unprecedented temperatures. Stripping away the consumer choice to utilize propane only pushes reliance solely upon the grid, and if/when the grid fails due to increased strain, consumers will be left in the dark – and heat.


This blog was contributed by National Propane Gas Association (NPGA). You may view the full article here.

How to Beat the Heat and Stay Cool to Reduce Workers Comp Claims

Contributed by Jenny Lescohier of CONEXPO-CON/AGG 365.

The construction industry has one of the highest rates of workers’ compensation claims and for good reason. It’s a physical profession and employees are often using heavy equipment, but they’re also exposed to the elements more than most workers.

During the summer months – particularly this summer with severe heat waves broiling the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere – heat-related illnesses are a serious concern for construction workers, and for the companies that employ them.

Workers’ compensation insurance costs approximately $1,000 per year for each employee, according to reports. The cost of a claim, however, can be far higher and even catastrophic to a small- to medium-sized contractor. It’s something every business owner wants to avoid… but how?

Protecting workers from everyday hazards is a positive first step, and knowing how to create a safe working environment amid dangerously high temperatures is top of mind during the warmest months of the year.

To help contractors minimize their exposure to workers’ compensation claims, San Francisco-based worker’s compensation ‘insurtech’ Foresight rewards companies for safety engagement. The company said it wraps risk management technology into every policy it writes, reducing workplace incident frequency by up to 57% and giving policyholders the ability to earn lower premiums.

To find out more about what technology can do to manage risk and reduce workers’ compensation claims, we talked with Drew Youpel, head of safety success at Safesite, a platform used by Foresight policyholders to manage inspections and audits, incident reporting, safety meetings, and hazard management from any smartphone or tablet.

Tell us about your background in construction.

Drew Youpel, Safesite: I was an OSHA compliance officer for eight years and before that, I was a risk manager and safety director for a large construction company in Chicago. I left that organization and went to work at Lockton Insurance Brokers in Kansas City, consulting on risk management. Now at Safesite, I’m helping organizations put together a plan that addresses risks, but with a technological advantage.

What’s the connection between technology, insurance and risk management?

Youpel: Foresight and Safesite work together to help policyholders reduce their losses through risk management. We help construction companies put together what we call a ‘safety success plan’ that attacks those losses.

We look for what’s really driving those losses for the organization and what drives loss in the industry they work in. If we can help an organization reduce their actual risks and losses throughout the year, that reduces their worker’s comp premiums.

It’s high summer and extreme heat seems to be everywhere, but particularly severe in several parts of the country. Does that affect workers’ compensation claims?

Youpel: Yes, in construction particularly, losses due to heat-related illnesses are much more common than you might think, and business owners have an obligation under the OSHA Act to try to reduce those losses.

What should every loss prevention effort include?

Youpel: Construction owners need to pre-plan their jobs. For example, if the weather forecast says it’s going to be extremely hot, you know that’s going to be stressful for employees’ bodies. You need to get out ahead of that, have copious amounts of water available as well as create shaded areas near where employees are working. Don’t wait for something to happen.

What are the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness that construction business owners should be looking for in their employees?

Youpel: First, supervisors need to be trained on what to look for throughout the day and what to do if an employee does show signs of heat-related illness. If steps are taken early enough, a loss can often be prevented.

Everyone on site should be trained to look for symptoms such as muscle cramps, dizziness, headache, nausea, rapid pulse, excessive sweating, and extreme thirst, as well as irritability. These are signs of heat exhaustion.

In extreme cases, it can progress to heat stroke. In that case, an employee might seem confused and slur their speech. Other symptoms include fast breathing or shortness of breath, vomiting, seizures, and even loss of consciousness. Sometimes you’ll notice the person has a very high temperature but is not sweating at all, because they’ve sweat all the water out of their body.

If a worker does become ill due to heat exposure, what should be done?

Youpel: The first thing you want to do is get that person in the shade with some water. Their feet should be elevated and you can try to cool their skin with cold packs or a spray bottle of water.

Basically, get shade, get water, relax, and sit down. Those early actions can help an employee get back to work before they become ill. You don’t want things to escalate to where he or she is slurring their speech, no longer sweating… because then you have a real problem.

If, after 30 minutes of those basic measures, the person is not showing signs of improvement, take action and call 911. Get someone there to help that individual so you can prevent serious illness or worse.

What else should business owners do to minimize losses due to illness or injury on the job?

Youpel: Every employer should have some type of written plan for procedures when there’s an illness or injury on the job. That’s the first

place to start.

You should also contact your insurance carrier to find out what steps to take to respond to an incident and how to start the claim process. And once you have that information in writing, it needs to be passed down to frontline supervisors.

Supervisors are really the tip of the spear when it comes to employee safety and health. We need to make sure we give them all the tools they need. If they don’t have all the information available, it’s going to be tough for them to make the right call when something happens in the field.

What specific technology is assisting with minimizing workers comp claims?

Youpel: Applications like Safesite are designed to help any contractor, from small business to middle-market, manage and keep track of all the safety actions that need to take place on a daily and weekly basis.

What’s great is the more active and engaged you are in our system, the more your workers compensation premium can be reduced. While

some incident-free businesses may wait up to three years to see a premium reduction, Foresight policyholders actively using Safesite can see a reduction within one policy term.

Heat-related illness prevention is just one of many safety resources available on Safesite. When a business becomes a Foresight workers compensation policyholder, our team goes into action and we conduct what we call a loss source analysis to find out what’s driving losses for that company.

And then when we find out what’s driving losses for that company and the industry as a whole, we’re able to prescribe meeting topics and inspections, as well as tailor-made safety plans for that organization, which drives down losses for the future.


This article first appeared in the CONEXPO-CON/AGG 365 digital news outlet, highlighting construction news, trends and technology for contractors. You may view the full article here.

Judging the Validity of the Tie-In-Point Pull Test

Content written by Jim Kasper for May issue of TCI Magazine. Jim Kasper is an ISA Certified Arborist and Climber Specialist. He has a master’s degree in public health (MPH) and is a climber with Gill Tree Care in Decatur, Georgia.

There are probably as many reasons to climb as there are climbing arborists – the challenge, the excitement, the exercise, and the new view each day. I contend that freedom is what we most desire. We climb so we can be free of the physical limits placed upon us by our earth-bound bodies. Free of the laws of physics and gravity as much as a human can be. We dangle from ropes – sometimes just a single thin strand the size of our finger. We glide among and through trees that can grow to reach many stories tall.
The freedom we feel when climbing stems directly from our security and safety. The more secure we feel – the more secure we know we are – the more confidently we will climb. We need to be secure in our skills, our equipment and the knowledge that we have anchored our bodies and our equipment to structurally sound points in the tree. Then we can move about the tree unencumbered and, to some extent, take risks.

To a great extent, all of tree work is an endless list of risks that most people shudder just to think of. These risks must be checked and rechecked systematically by us and our crews every day. But with a secure tie-in-point (TIP), climbers can take the kind of risks that aren’t really risks at all. They are simply feats of strength, coordination and skill. They might include limb walking with panache, tackling the biggest trees in any conceivable situation and stretching to the limits of the crown to reach the smallest limbs.

Securing a TIP

To achieve this security, confidence and resulting freedom, climbing arborists may use various techniques and equipment to assess the strength and stability of trees and their tie-in-points. One such technique is the use of TIP load testing using the pull test. This involves applying a concentrated load to a specific point on a tree to determine its structural integrity, e.g., the crotch, branch union or limb. In fact, ANSI standards prescribe that climbers shall pretest a TIP prior to ascent by applying a load that is approximately twice the weight of the climber.

Chances are you learned to do the TIP load test the very first time you climbed a tree. Before you knew how to climb, you watched as veterans pulled on their ropes to give their tie-in-points a check. It’s certainly something I have done before every single climb in the five years since I began ascending trees as a climber.

But how useful is it? Does the TIP pull test actually make sense?

“It doesn’t work”

John Ball, Ph.D., CTSP, does not mince words when expressing his thoughts on the rope pull test: “It doesn’t work,” says Ball.

After a bit of a chuckle, we pushed him. “But doesn’t it mean anything? Doesn’t it do something?”

“The pull test is of minimal value,” says Ball. “Most workers overestimate the force the pulling has on the anchor and underestimate the force caused by the climber. We have too many instances where the anchor failed, with the climber falling, where a pull test was done.”

Ball has written on this topic previously in another publication, citing “spectacular fails” involving TIP failures over the years. Even a single “spectacular” fail should be enough to make a climber rethink a suspicious-looking TIP, he cautions. Wouldn’t we want as much information on a potential TIP as possible? Wouldn’t we want to grab a co-worker and have them hang on the line with us?

If some of you are questioning this, you’ll have seized upon a common criticism that, to an extent, this method is absurd. “We are the only industry that tries to stress something to failure. It’s insanity,” says Ball.

If we have loaded two or even three workers onto a single climber’s line to test that line and that TIP, “we’ve added to the potential for failure,” Ball says.

False security?

It’s worth considering that, if a union is suspicious to us and we stress it out repeatedly, how likely is it that we have added anything to the recipe except the potential for failure? X-ray binoculars don’t yet exist, so we can’t see the internal fibers of the tree and how they react to the forces we exert as we climb, work and swing. There’s simply no way of knowing for sure what a union 90 feet off the ground really looks like. Perhaps we shouldn’t be yanking so hard on our climbing lines, then.

The question becomes, if we have it isolated in a large, strong union, does yanking a bit on our climbing line achieve anything besides psychological well-being? It actually might be worse than that. Could it in fact be providing us with a false sense of security? Just the right amount of misguided certainty that ends in disaster? What if we tug and tug and actually weaken the union as we do so, and then it fails mid-climb?

From here, even more questions arise:

  • Is it possible to “overdo” a pull test – with two or even three people pulling/hanging/bouncing in tandem?
  • Wouldn’t a dynamic load test of a TIP actually weaken the union? (A union we might otherwise have been safe to climb out of?)
  • Does a pull test accurately gauge how a union would react if we were to take a fall or unintentional swing?

The bigger question becomes, are there better ways we could check a TIP before climbing?

A matter of balance

Recall the beauty and freedom experienced by the secure climber we pondered earlier. We can only achieve this level of security when we balance having a functional TIP at the highest elevation with the highest TIP strength available. While sacrificing the former may merely mean expending extra calories spent frustrated too low in a canopy, sacrificing the latter can lead to catastrophic failure.

Nobody wants to make a 911 call or a call to a co-worker’s loved ones. We should strive to achieve a balance of safety and agility. This may at times mean we need to opt for a TIP that is a bit – say it together – lower than ideal. Just as common as the TIP pre-climb load test is the desire to hit the highest possible TIP with our throw line and climb from there. The laws of physics apply here, too. In general, the higher in the crown, the more ideal our working-rope angles become. But there are limits, and there are some TIPs that simply should not be used.

Why are we testing?

Craig Bachmann, CTSP, TRAQ, outlined some of the main things we need to think about when tying in. He challenges us to check some of our long-held assumptions and beliefs about why we do what we do. “Why are you doing a load test of a TIP? To see if it will fail, or to verify what you determined with a thorough visual inspection?” To Bachmann, a load test of a climbing line has a primary purpose: to validate what we believe to be true about our TIP.

Instead of hanging on our line to see if something will break, we should instead use it as a tool to locate something we may have missed – for instance, a sucker on the back side of the tree that gives way under minimal pressure.

He is quick to remind us that a load test should not be the only way to evaluate a potential TIP. If we’re doing this, we’re already too far down the wrong track. He mentions an incident at his company that resulted in an experienced climber being seriously injured in spite of diligent safety protocols. This experience challenged the company to reimagine their whole approach. What had been missed? How could they improve and prevent another incident?

Start low

Bachmann emphasizes employing a specific protocol to improve climber safety. Begin with a lower initial TIP that can be thoroughly inspected from the ground. Aim for a throwball shot at half to two-thirds height rather than trying for the top shot. Visually inspect the union, install an access line and perform a load test. Then, ascend to that initial TIP and assess your options. From there, advance to the final TIP, inspecting as you move up.

But what about the guy on the crew who grumbles about having to climb up to his TIP and recrotch in every tree. Bachmann was ready: “Good grief, what a terrible thing to do, climb in a climbing- based job!”

Redefining the anchor point

Jeff Inman Jr., CTSP, mentions a similar “life-changing” experience with a fall – his own. It didn’t cost him his life, but it did change his entire perspective on climbing. He spent several years actively testing the use of two-rope systems for every tree-climbing project. Ultimately, he deemed it an unnecessary endeavor.

A two-rope system was not nearly as efficient as climbing with one rope. And it did not provide enough of a safety bonus over a single, well-constructed, secure climbing setup. That led him to redefine the “anchor point” in a way that made sense to him. “The anchor point is the most critical aspect of our climb,” Inman states. “From that, we build our climbing system; the rope becomes our third arm, and we use it to enter into this three-dimensional world.”

So the anchor point is our most fundamental piece. It’s the crux of our whole operation. Something so small, yet so essential. Wouldn’t we want to get that right?

These days, Inman prefers to do a static hang test of his anchor point. He says he simply hangs on the rope for 30 seconds to a minute, listening to and feeling the way the rope behaves in the tree. Does he hear wood fibers moving? Does he sense unexpected bend or sway? Like Bachmann, Inman isn’t furiously hopping up and down on a rope with a co-worker.

“If I’m questioning my TIP, I don’t need a second person to hang on a rope with me – it’s irrelevant.” By the time Inman is having serious doubts about a climbing anchor point, he’s already pulling his rope out of the tree to reset it elsewhere.

It is part of the process

Matt Follett is an ISA Certified Arborist, ISA TRAQ credentialed, a climbing arborist, and a Ph.D. student at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). His studies focus on the effects of pruning on tree resilience in the urban environment, as well as climber safety. Beyond his work on wind loading and rigging dynamics, including the blocks-versus-rings debate – related to mechanical friction, he’s done some preliminary research on the topic of anchor-point stress. While the findings are not yet publishable and more research is needed, he felt confident saying that a TIP load test was an acceptable part of the climber’s process.

Referring to a TIP that bends, creaks or breaks under the weight of two or more people, “You probably don’t want to climb on it,” he says with a chuckle. He adds that, according to studies conducted for the purpose of testing structural strength, wood yields as it reaches its limits. It doesn’t simply snap as if by magic.

Like Inman hanging quietly on his line or Bachmann giving a sturdy tug to make sure there’s nothing he’s missed, Follett says there’s something to be gained by testing a TIP. “I think we should – it’s all collective knowledge, our previous experiences compounded. As you gain experience, you get to know what a good anchor point should feel like.”

Conclusion and takeaways

There’s something to be said for this method. Our learned intuition is a powerful tool. We might have different opinions on exactly how to test it, but if an oak union is bending and bowing like a birch union, it might be time to rethink that tie-in-point.

The pre-climb TIP pull test cannot tell you everything about a potential anchor point; use it only to verify what you already suspect about your union/crotch.

No need to overstrain the TIP or repeatedly jump up and down on the rope with multiple climbers.

Consider setting an access line half to two-thirds of the way up the tree, then climbing up to set a higher work line.

Some TIPs may be suitable only for careful work in the highest point in the crown – when finished at high elevation, a lower, more stable TIP should be used.

Happy and safe climbing!


This article first appeared in the May 2023 issue of Tree Care Industry Magazine, the official publication of the Tree Care Industry Association. You can view the May 2023 magazine here.

Is Your VAC Truck Ready For Winter | Custom Truck One Source

There are many schools of thought on how to prepare both your truck and yourself for winter. The following tips have worked for me and maybe some of our new operators will gain value from my experiences.

Many companies have in-house mechanics that can look after the physical maintenance of your unit and have good preventive maintenance programs. If so, a lot of this may be part of your program and already well underway in your fleet. Personally, I have come from a background where I did most of my own maintenance and took care of the day-to-day needs of my unit(s). Whatever situation you find yourself in, the requirements for winter readiness are the same.

If you haven’t already done so, now is a good time to go through your unit bumper to bumper. Wash and clean the outside. Polish what you can to protect the chrome and paint. Clean your interior and get the mud and gunk out from under the pedals. Mud build-up under your pedals can be a hazard as well as cause you issues with things like throttle response, cruise control features, etc. Pressure wash the engine bay and undercarriage. If you are going to take the time to go over everything, it might as well be clean! Check all belts, hoses, electrical connections, and fluid levels. Test your engine coolant and make sure it is good for the temperatures you see in your area. Grease the truck and use some silicone spray on the hinges and doors. It can help prevent moisture from getting into those areas.

Check your oils. Both engine oil and hydraulic oils act differently in colder temperatures.

Maybe you need to look at using winter-grade oils in your area. Going to a lighter AW22 in the hydraulic tank makes sense. Synthetic oils in the engine can help reduce wear and make cold weather starts easier. Your Owner’s Manual will again be a big help here.

Do not forget your air system! Drain all the tanks and fill them up again. Maybe repeat this a few times to make sure all the moisture is out. If you park inside a warm shop at night, drain them every night. Some people will run some Air Brake Anti-Freeze through the system on a regular basis. Determine what your needs are and consult your owner’s manual if in doubt.

The ever-important water system of our hydrovacs – the cause of MOST winter issues! Check it NOW!

Most trucks are equipped with some form of “glycol” system for winterizing the back end of the unit. Again, please refer to your owner’s manual for your particular unit. Some common rules of thumb are, at the very least, to flush out ALL old glycol from the holding tank. This is a pretty small cost to ensure your product is rated for the temperatures in your area. Over the summer, the glycol can easily be diluted with water in various ways. Don’t just look at it and assume it is good! Most people will use Propylene Glycol or RV Anti-Freeze for this. Some use windshield washer anti-freeze as well. Either is fine. Drain your tank and flush the system. Refill the tank with new glycol. It’s as simple as that.

Next in line is the boiler. Fire it up now and make sure it works. Check your electrode gaps and fuel nozzles. Make sure the air damper on the side of the motor hasn’t moved over the summer and you are getting the correct air/fuel mixture. Does your unit have a fuel filter on it? Replace if needed. Acidizing the coil is another topic that will start arguments. There are pros and cons so I suggest you again consult your specific Owner’s Manual or go see your local boiler/pump repair shop. They will be glad to help. Personally, I did mine approximately every second year. It is a simple procedure and does give you piece of mind that you are getting maximum flow through your coils.

Inside the doghouse/cabinet is another place where you might want a few winter-specific items—extra rubber bungees for tire chains. Check you have some extra hooks and locks as well as your chain key for tightening them up. Batteries for flashlights, propane torch, a bag, or pail of sand/rock chips to lay down if you get a sidewalk wet working in urban areas. I used to carry a jug of Methanol with a small hole drilled in the cap so it would work like a squirt gun. Spray your camlock fittings before and after use to prevent them from freezing together. Make sure you have extra oil, coolant, and windshield washer fluid, especially if you are working in remote areas. Blower maintenance is also a key topic. That is one expensive piece of steel and anything you can do to protect it is well worth it.

First and foremost, check the oil in the end cases and make sure it is clean and at the fill line. Most blowers have a drain plug on the bottom of the impeller case. Have a look and open it up to drain any moisture already there. If you park inside at night, remember that condensation formed inside the blower will settle as water in the bottom of the case. A good practice is to engage your blower and run it in a lower gear while your truck warms up. This will pull cold air through the system and “freeze” everything while it is in motion.

This way, when you travel to site your impellers will not freeze in position.

I have seen a few blowers destroyed from this. Consequently, if you are going to be parking your unit outside at night, do the reverse and run the blower at low RPM for a few minutes after you have washed the tank out. This will pull all that steam through the system and “freeze” everything while in motion so no condensation settles in the blower case after you park.

Last but not least, the filter and cyclone. I cannot stress this enough – drain the cyclone every time you dump at the end of each day. This will help keep your filter clean and prevent the water from freezing in the cyclone. This also helps keeps your unit sucking at its maximum efficiency.


This article is contributed by Mike Schmidt.

The Myth and the Reality of Insurance Certificates

Content written by Rick Weden for May issue of TCI Magazine

As a tree care professional, you are probably all too familiar with insurance certificates, and depending on the size of your company, some of you may be requesting insurance certificates on almost a daily basis. But what are these documents that get issued on your behalf, and what do they truly mean?

What does a certificate of insurance tell you?

An insurance certificate is little more than an abstract that represents only a very few basic provisions of one or more insurance policies held by the insured company. Even though the form notes the effective and expiration dates (usually one-year policy terms) of the policies noted, it only represents that the insurance noted on the form is in effect on the day the certificate is issued. Basically, it is a one-day snapshot in time. It grants no guarantee that the policies noted will remain in effect beyond the date of issue of the certificate.

Certificate holder

When your customer asks you for an insurance certificate, the certificate is issued with your client noted as a “certificate holder” on the bottom-left corner of the document. So, does a certificate of insurance grant any insurance coverage to a certificate holder? Simple answer – not really.

A certificate holder has no rights under the policies noted on a certificate of insurance. Only you, the named insured, have rights under the policies noted. And let’s also understand that an insurance certificate does not create any form of contract between the certificate holder and the insured, or the insurance company noted on the insurance certificate.

Not uncommon are cases where certificate holders require that they have what is called “Additional Insured” status noted on an insurance certificate. “Additional Insured” status is usually aligned with the terms and conditions of a separate written contract between the certificate holder and the insured and is governed separately under the terms of the contract. The terms and conditions of a written contract between the insured and the certificate holder may not always fall within the scope of the insurance terms contained in the actual insurance policy held by the insured.

Whenever one is in a situation where written contracts and insurance certificates are involved, along with a careful review with your insurance professionals of the wording on insurance certificates, one also should seek professional legal advice on any written contracts that may be involved.

Does a certificate of insurance act as an insurance policy?

To further emphasize what was stated previously, no, it does not. Other than identifying the specific policies that the insured has in effect, an insurance certificate provides no detail to the forms of coverage, or lack thereof, contained in the various policies noted.

I once heard a story where a tree care company decided to begin offering snow-removal services to their clients. They assumed that their General Liability policy extended coverage for snow-removal services, and never specifically discussed with their insurance agent if they had snow-removal liability coverage. One of their new snow-service customers asked them for an insurance certificate, which the tree care company asked their agent to send to the customer. During the entire communications process, nothing about snow services was ever mentioned between the tree care company and their insurance agent. The certificate was issued.

Later, someone slipped and fell in the customer’s recently plowed parking area. A claim was filed against the tree care company for failure to provide proper snow removal. Unfortunately, the tree care company’s General Liability policy excluded claims stemming from snow-removal services, and the claim was denied. After the denial of coverage, the tree care company argued that they had the coverage, citing the insurance certificate and stating that the certificate was evidence of snow-removal coverage. Unfortunately, it was later proven in court that an insurance certificate is not an insurance policy and does not, and will never, grant specific terms of coverage, including exclusions in the policy. The more I think about it, this isn’t a story. It’s a nightmare!

Statements and notations

“Can your insurance agent make certain statements for you on a certificate of insurance beyond the basic insurance information?”

Fast answer, maybe only a very few, but not many.

Insurance agents can only note “Additional Insured” status for a certificate holder, and a very few other terms, so long as the actual insurance policy that the certificate is being issued under does, in fact, contain those terms in the coverage and policy conditions. Diligent insurance agents always check their client’s coverage before they make any notations on an insurance certificate. The insurance agent also may contact the insurance company directly for their approval before making certain notations on an insurance certificate.

Several states have insurance-certification laws that govern what can be legally stated on an insurance certificate. Where applicable, failure to abide by these laws can pose serious consequences for insurance agents and their clients.

What terms can be on an insurance certificate?

“Our tree care company is about to bid on a big contract for tree care services for a very large homeowners association. The homeowners association has detailed exactly what insurance terms are to be stated on the certificate of insurance that we are to provide for them.”

This example ties in with the previous commentary regarding the scope of written statements that can be made on insurance certificates. I am including this example here, as we are encountering these types of situations more frequently. If you find yourself in a position like this, you should discuss and review the requested terms with your insurance provider. If there are certain terms that your insurance agent is not comfortable noting, you should discuss them with your prospective client.

Remember what I noted before. An insurance certificate is not an insurance policy, and only the insurance company issuing the actual insurance policy has the right to determine the terms and conditions of the policy. Unauthorized statements made about the policy on an insurance certificate can very easily be determined as erroneous, and perhaps be construed as misrepresentations of the terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy.

Are sample copies valid?

“I’m tired of having to constantly call or email my insurance agent to get certificates of insurance. Can’t I just copy a certificate of my insurance to hand out as my clients request them?”

This practice is highly inadvisable. Sometimes the terms and conditions of one’s insurance plan can change over time, perhaps upon the individual policy’s renewal, and you run the risk of giving someone an insurance certificate that may have inaccurate information on it. An honest error? Probably, but an error nonetheless that could result in misunderstandings or, worse, an allegation of insurance fraud or misrepresentation. Insurance companies and their agents alike discourage this practice. We are more than happy to issue as many individual insurance certificates as you need on a day-to-day basis.

Some business owners have posted a sample copy of their insurance certificates on their websites. This practice is discouraged. There have been numerous cases where insurance certificates have been stolen from a website and used as what becomes fraudulent insurance evidence by unscrupulous operators.

Legitimate certificates of insurance

“My tree care company uses several subcontractors for crane work, stump grinding and some landscaping, and I regularly obtain certificates of insurance from them. How can I be sure the certificates I am getting are, in fact, legitimate?”

Realistically, most everyone is honest and upfront with insurance certificates, but there continue to be enough cases involving fraudulent insurance certificates that all business owners should be vigilant.

Most insurance agents have systems in place whereby they automatically issue all insurance certificates directly to both the certificate holders and their insured clients. Be wary of anyone who is always sending you their certificate directly, with no insurance agent involved in the communication.

Study each certificate you get closely. With today’s technology, virtually anyone can create all kinds of documents privately on their own. Look for areas where things don’t line up. Match the certificate you receive from subcontractors with one of your own certificates, and check to see if all the borders are in line. Look for different typesets in certain areas of an insurance certificate that may not match up with the typesets in other areas of the insurance-certificate document. If something does not look right, share it with your insurance agent.

Cancelation notification

“I keep insurance certificates on file for all the subcontractors my tree care company contracts for crane services. I assume that, God forbid, if their insurance ever got canceled for any reason, since I am a certificate holder on the insurance certificate, their insurance company will notify us if any of the insurance policies noted on the insurance certificate are canceled for any reason.”

Fast answer, they might.

Under the terms and conditions of most insurance policies, there contain no provisions in the policy wording that, in the event the referenced policy is canceled, that a certificate holder or additional-insured parties will receive notification of the cancelation.

From time to time I have encountered situations where a certificate holder has requested our client’s insurance certificate to include a written statement that all parties to the certificate be guaranteed notification in the event of policy cancelation.  Simply put, and insurance agent has no right or authority to make any such statements on an insurance certificate.

In summary

Streamline your insurance-certificate requests with your insurance agent. Provide complete information on all certificate holders, including full legal names, complete addresses and proper contact information. Also note in your request the nature of the work you are performing for the customer. This way, your agent can issue them quickly and efficiently and perhaps ask additional questions if needed. If your certificate holder (client) also has presented you with a written contract, share the contract immediately with your insurance agent, along with the certificate request. Review the contract with an attorney.

Involve your insurance agent immediately when confronted with complex certificate requests that contain numerous terms and conditions to be noted on the certificate.

Avoid the practice of using “template” certificates and distributing them yourself. Ask your agent to issue all certificates. It is our job, and we are happy to do it for you!

Keep records of all insurance certificates. Keep a separate record of all insurance certificates you obtain from others, such as subcontractors, as well as a record of all certificates issued to your clients on your behalf.

Review insurance certificates you obtain from others, making sure all coverage required is properly noted. Ask your insurance agent to review them as well.

Try to remember what a certificate of insurance is, and what it is not!

Rick Weden is team practice leader of the Tree Care Insurance Specialty Team at Corcoran and Havlin Insurance, a division of Cross Insurance and a 13-year TCIA corporate member company located in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He manages the insurance needs of many tree care operations countrywide, using a wide range of insurance companies, including ArborMax. He has presented at many TCI EXPOs and is a member of the Massachusetts Arborists Association.

This article first appeared in the May 2022 issue of Tree Care Industry Magazine, the official publication of the Tree Care Industry Association. You can view the May 2022 magazine here.

Solving Wind Turbine Transport Challenges – Custom Truck

As one of the most effective and reliable forms of renewable energy, it’s no wonder that wind farms are becoming a more common sight across the country. The average person driving by these towering turbines might wonder how these gigantic machines make it to their destinations.

The short answer is that it isn’t easy — contractors and energy companies have to overcome numerous wind turbine logistics challenges. One of these is transporting wind turbine blades by truck over the highway, which requires specialized equipment and skilled drivers. As challenging as this can be, however, it may be much easier than what comes next. Because these wind farms are in remote locations without paved roads, carrying components for the final leg of the journey can be a task in and of itself. This is where access mats become a crucial element of the planning for such projects.


One of the biggest obstacles for wind energy transport is handling the final steps. Not only do trucks need to be able to carry equipment to its permanent location, but heavy machinery such as cranes need stability to install it. Unfortunately, most of these projects must be staged and constructed in some difficult conditions.

The untamed nature of these jobsites means there’s likely unstable or rugged terrain. Whether the ground is too soft, muddy or rocky, it may not be safe or secure to move large-scale machines across it. Attempting to do so might damage vehicles and risk costly delays that can derail progress.

In addition, contractors may need to cross agricultural fields or ecologically sensitive wetlands. The pressure exerted on the ground by treads and tires can cause lasting harm to these areas. If there are no existing access roads across these areas, determining how to get to the site can be a big problem.


Fortunately, there is a solution to these and many other issues related to accessing these types of project locations. Many contractors use hardwood timber access mats to create temporary roadways and staging platforms. That’s because these access mats are relatively easy to install and disassemble. Further, the benefits they provide make them an ideal choice for solving logistical challenges on wind farm projects.

One of the most important advantages of these mats is that they can be used to create a stable surface. This means vehicles can cross challenging terrain without worrying about becoming stuck or damaged by hidden rocks. They also make it possible for trucks and cranes to enter such areas without damaging the ground because they absorb the pressure created by large machinery. The result is fewer delays, lower overall costs, and enhanced safety for crew members.


As a recognized leader in access solutions with an inventory of more than 1 million products throughout North America, there’s no better place to turn than YAK MAT. We have delivered mats used for a large number of renewable energy projects all over the country.


This article is contributed by YAK MAT. YAK MAT is the largest supplier of access mats in North America, specializing in providing access solutions for energy products. Pioneering the industry since 1976, YAK MAT offers clients economies of scale and a variety of ready to ship construction protection mats in close proximity to any project, anywhere in the United States.

Bird On A Wire

Individuals who have worked on or around power lines know that they must work with extreme caution. The risk of dangerous and even fatal electrical shock cannot be taken lightly, which is why crews must wear protective equipment and follow rigid safety guidelines. However, these workers also must have looked at those same lines that they have been trained to regard as a lethal threat and seen a flock of small birds perched on them.

These feathered friends seem to have no trouble sitting on these high-voltage wires than they do the branch of a tree. Why don’t birds get electrocuted on power lines but humans do? The answer lies mostly with the nature of electrical current and partially with birds’ blissful ignorance of the potential danger.


Simply put, electricity doesn’t go anywhere unless it has a closed loop made of conductive materials with at least two points of differing potential. That means the number of electrons at one point should be lower than the starting place. Electricity seeks to balance that, sending a charge from the point of higher potential to the lower one. The earth itself has a voltage of practically zero. It is almost always the lowest potential. Because the energy tries to get to the ground, anything that gives it a circuit through which it can flow to the earth will become energized. For a living being, that’s bad news.

Birds, however, have found a kind of loophole to this natural law. Because they can fly, they can land on a power line from above, never coming into contact with the ground or anything else as they do. This is crucial, because their feet have the same electrical potential, which means the electrons flowing through the line they’re touching don’t need to make a detour through them.

This protects the feathered creature from receiving a shock. However, if any part of the bird’s body were to come into contact with something that had a different potential, such as the pole, the charge would find a way to the ground and zap it into oblivion.

Humans, on the other hand, are standing on the ground or in a cherry picker when they come into contact with power lines. This means that without the right precautions, they will be in connection with the ground directly or indirectly. Either way, they create a circuit that leads to severe electrocution risk.


This is why protective gear such as EPZ grounding grates from YAK MAT are so vital at work sites. Made from all-in-one galvanized steel grates, these create an equipotential zone where they are placed. When standing or walking on them, the electrical potential between any two points on a person’s body is virtually equal. This allows him or her to take advantage of the same basic effect that protects birds that sit on energized lines. Any current that happens to flow into this area will be directed via the grate instead of through the people standing on them.


This article is contributed by YAK MAT. YAK MAT is the largest supplier of access mats in North America, specializing in providing access solutions for energy products. Pioneering the industry since 1976, YAK MAT offers clients economies of scale and a variety of ready to ship construction protection mats in close proximity to any project, anywhere in the United States.