Tree Trimming: Why It’s So Important

Would you leave the floor of your store covered in debris or slick with oil? Of course not! All of us know intuitively that people walking through the store do not expect to encounter these hazards, and could easily injure themselves. How would you react if you walked into the store one morning, to find one of your work campers left this mess? Would you immediately clean up the mess so no one was injured?

When you operate a KOA, the same logic applies to your trees. Untrimmed trees inevitably damage RVs, trailers, vehicles and sometimes injure guests. Said a different way, if you do not take a proactive attitude to trimming your trees, damage to a guest or guest property is inevitable.

Many KOAs pride themselves on the beautiful trees that grace their parks. Undoubtedly, many of your guests choose your park because of the feeling of nature that trees help to provide. Your trees are clearly an asset, but if you don’t attentively care for them, they can be a liability.

Trees, just like people, can get sick and even die unexpectedly. Just because a tree can live for 200 years, doesn’t mean it will naturally do so. A tree can be deficient of nutrients, attacked by a blight, or damaged by the weather. If you’re not working to monitor these developments, they can eventually result in what appears to be sudden damage.

For example, a trailer worth $80,000 is parked in a spot overnight, and a heavy wind brings down a weak branch, damaging the awning and roof. How is your guest going to react? Would he or she have expected this damage when deciding to visit your park? Will your guest be content to file a claim under his or her RV insurance, and pay a $500 or $1,000 deductible to repair the damage? What kind of review might he or she leave you?

To proactively manage the risk trees pose to your guests, here are some steps we recommend for you to consider.

  • Consult with a professional arborist to learn about the trees in your park, including what you can do to keep them healthy and how you can look for warning signs of damage.
  • Evaluate all trees near campsites and buildings at the beginning of each season. Re-evaluate them any time you have heavy winds.
  • Have a staff member responsible for regularly going through the park, looking for damaged tree limbs and removing them promptly.
  • Have a written tree maintenance policy, outlining the steps you are regularly taking to make sure trees do not pose a foreseen hazard to guests.

Managing your trees is a process, not a one-time event. If you want to hear more about how well-managed KOAs are reducing their risk by managing their trees, contact the team of KOA Insurance and Safety experts at Merriam.

James Dick, CPCU, AAI