The Settlement Mystery of Trees and Landscapes
Nothing evokes frustration, anger, and other awkward reactionary behavior like a claim for trees or landscapes. Something unexplainable occurs when the subject of appraising trees and landscapes occurs. The same thing happens in legal disputes. Pros simply don’t know how to approach just compensation regarding trees and landscapes.
The closest simile to appraising in the Green Industry is to manage it as if it were the auto industry; the two have much in common.
The first consideration when appraising a tree is the make, model, and year of the tree. Just like a car. Mileage and condition also play a definitive role in the diminution of value.
The make and model of a tree is the species. Just like the cost difference between a Lexis and a Beetle, so too is the cost difference between a Live oak tree and a Sycamore tree. Think comparable pricing in the open marketplace for the answer. And there are Kelly Blue Books for trees.
The year of a tree closely aligns with the year of a car. Although age may not be a metric in valuing a tree, its remaining useful life sometimes plays into the equation. A 300-year-old tree in a populated area elicits wonder and awe but can subtract from its value based upon remaining useful life.
The tree’s mileage and condition are expressed typically in its Condition Rating, the wear and tear the tree has experienced before the casualty. Here both tree’s structure and health play hard in the diminution of value.
An appraiser is necessary when considering the value of a casualty car, and one is usually necessary when considering the value of a casualty tree. In many cases, if not most, this can be accomplished by a qualified arborist’s desktop review.
Has the subject casualty tree been irreparably damaged? Can it be repaired? Again, the same dynamic as a car. The repair cost may be more appropriate than replacement or a valuation. Trees are living entities and their repair process is amazing. Cars, of course, cannot repair themselves.
Also consider betterments with the tree or landscape claim. Just like a car, were there extras that added value? Did the car have a moon roof? If not, you’re not going to pay for that feature in a claim. With trees, betterments include snake oil additives when planting or installing a replacement tree, special amendments to soils, and extended warranties, all of which were not present in the before situation of the incident casualty tree.
An insured’s unethical approach is always a front-line consideration when reviewing the claim. With cars it’s easier to detect a meritless claim because you know the automobile industry better than you know the tree industry. The chance of someone trying to slip you a fast one is much greater in an unfamiliar industry.
If you are stuck on a particular claim, please let me know. In most instances, I can manage your questions from my desk, and in many scenarios as a professional courtesy to you.
Read our Case Study on Product Liability to help clarify the settlement mystery of trees and landscapes.
The articles presented here do not make any legal recommendations or representations, as the author is not qualified to do so. These articles are for educational and entertainment purposes only. Seek the advice of a qualified attorney regarding questions of law.