What Are You Leaving On The Table?

What Are You LEaving on The Table?

Written by Matt Curts

Sliver Beach Pizza in St. Joseph’s Michigan is a great family spot for quality pizza and craft beer.  This past weekend it became the spot of a great debate amongst three generations.  The topic, the greatest to ever play the game of basketball.  My father is almost 70 years old so you can probably guess that the likes of Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson made it into the discussion.  I swear I think I even heard a reference to Pistol Pete before we asked him to just stop.  For me I wasn’t even sure why the conversation was necessary, certain that all present had seen the Last Dance.  But my son and nephews insisted that the players of today are greater than the greats of our day.  They are especially fond of a so-called King.  Nonetheless, it’s a circular conversation really, that always ends in focusing on one or two players and relegating all others to a list of the underappreciated.    

With any discussion of comparison, we often use statistics until we can’t.  Offensive statistics, defensive statistics, vertical jump statistics.  But all roads lead to the number of championships won.  And when that doesn’t satisfy, we use terms like “killer instinct” and “great vision” to try and explain what seems inexplicable.  Back in the day, Spike Lee even asked, “Is it the shoes?” 

But no matter how you slice it, individual players do not win team sport championships, teams do.  And so, it goes back to stat lines and box scores and consecutive championship runs before grasping for words to separate what is good team from a great team.   But is it really so hard to explain?

Hall of Fame Coach Phil Jackson once said, “Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the me for the we.”

Today players demand to be placed alongside other all-stars to chase the championship that has alluded them their entire career.  Time after time we see these super teams become super duds as the individuals can’t see how to work together for the collective good.  They share the same skills but not the same values or since of identity.  This doesn’t show up on a stat sheet or box score.  But everyone knows in spite of their combined superior technical skills they still lack “it”.

That “it” is a great culture.  A clear identity.  A great culture allows for nothing to be left on the table.  But too many analysts sniff at that which can’t be easily measured and often serves a branding exercise as much as anything.  Chemistry is often an afterthought because people don’t believe they can clearly define what they are to do to create it.  This is left brained thinking.

In your business you have followed all the best practices both inside and outside of your industry.  Your strategy is defined for efficiency and effectiveness. The systems and processes are in place.  The individual skills have been hired and developed. You have surpassed all your expectations when you started your venture.  But still, you know there is more to be had.  What is holding you back?  What else could be possible?

Culture is how we make meaning of the world.  It’s the way we perceive it based on our past experiences and values shaped by those experiences.  It’s how we believe the world even sees us.  In contradiction to popular belief our brain is not split in two.  But, the right side of our brain starts processing our surroundings and draws conclusions before the left side is even aware of what is happening.   It governs the whole of our relational life and manages our strongest relational connections.  In a sense our right brain is running a five-minute mile and our left brain a six-minute mile.    

The good news is that what seems to be immeasurable is being measured every second of every day by your people as they constantly search for a place of belonging.  The human brain was designed to look for and run on joy. Our joy drops when we sense few faces shining on us and few people happy to be with us. ALL OF US are collectively looking for our we.  When organizations excel in creating high trust and high accountability the right part of our brain has found what it is looking for and our left brain can fully engage in the mission at hand.  Thus, producing a high productive culture.  Great cultures don’t leave anything on the table because its people have found what they first look for. 

So how do you become the group that others are seeking after?  I believe it starts with two things.  The first is to simply be honest.  Being honest is not simply just telling the truth (although that is one measurement for a good workplace culture).  It is also being unapologetically you.  The Detroit Pistons of the 90’s produced a team that was hated by many but revered by a few.  Their style of bad boy basketball offered a place of belonging to some who felt like misfits among the elite.   They succeeded because they fully bought in to the values of the group.  Willing to sacrifice their personal accolades for the whole.  Not all cultures are created the same.  You’re unique, so own it.  Second is to clearly define and know your roles within your organization.  All great teams start with the greater why of defining who we are and what we are about.  But it still requires each member to know how they participate in that why.  It is often the underappreciated ones who make it possible to have the greatest success.  The greatest of all time does not win six championships without the likes of Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Steve Kerr, and Toni Kukoc playing their roles to perfection. 

If attachment is the strongest force in the human brain, then we need to give others something to attach to beyond our strategic plan.  Peter Drucker famously quipped that culture eats strategy for breakfast. If you succeed in attaching relationally to your people you will succeed in ensuring nothing is left on the table and you will accomplish immeasurably more than you could have ever dreamed or imagined.

So, here’s to going from good to great.  It simply starts with being unapologetically you.  

Be sure to join us for the Culture Webinar later this month. Also, be sure to check our other Weekly Tips articles throughout the month of July.

If you are interested in learning more about how to identify, build, assess, and nurture your business culture, please feel free to take our culture assessment which can be found at the following link:

Company Culture Assessment

Once completed, a Thrive Consultant will review the results with you and develop a high-level action plan of next steps. 

For additional help with growing your company, contact a member of the ArboRisk Insurance team! If you’re looking to improve upon your communication skills or want to help one of your key team members develop personally, sign up for the Thrive Leadership Development package today! Additionally, if you find it difficult to find or keep quality employees, check out our Thrive Hiring & Recruiting Package.

Tom Dunn

How Good Company Affects the Journey

How Good Company Affects the Journey

Written by Matt Curts


Every year there is a great migration to escape an unpleasant climate and find the needed nourishment to make it to the coming of spring.  No, not the barn swallow heading south for the winter, but rather, a gang of mini vans in a side-by-side pattern packed full of midwestern families and enough snacks to survive the apocalypse.  The destination – the Gulf of Mexico. 

But before I and other road warriors meet on the highways that Siri espouses to be the shortest and fastest route, the vision of rest and relaxation fuels our last-minute preparations of stuffing the vehicle full with things than no one would ever need to simply sit and stare at the ocean for a week.  Nonetheless, readied for eternity, we wake our people up at zero dark thirty to chase the greatest view of our week – a clear road.   

A few hours in and all the preparation appears to be paying off and a smile comes over our face as we silently mock Siri’s overly conservative estimated time of arrival.  The strategy is working and all are at rest.

Then it happens……

Ahead the highway is full of weary travelers who all share the exact same strategies of road travel.  Leave early to hurry up and wait behind a never-ending conga line.  Traffic grinds to a halt and you now hear Siri, in her pleasant South African accent, mocking you as she adds another hour to your estimated time of arrival.  Not on your watch. Tensions rise, and alternate routes are pursued.  Maybe the shortest distance between two points really isn’t a straight line after all?  That state highway might only be 55 MPH but it’s better than zero, right?  Really Siri, I’m still on the fastest route?  An obsession with the destination overtakes me and all the sudden my family is a captive audience to my irritability, hurried spirit and constant calculating to outmaneuver this nuisance.  The mood has shifted and rest is no longer available – for anyone.

When we finally arrive at our destination, us vacation pilots are confused that our family isn’t hoisting us upon their shoulders for coming just under Siri’s original estimated time of arrival after conquering insurmountable odds.  Instead, you’re being told that you are not good company. 

Maybe, like me, you have piloted a few vacation road trips and can relate.  Or maybe as the pilot of your organization this describes the excitement and disappointment of leading others towards your desired destination. 

It’s only natural to want to find the fastest way between two points. But we all understand obstacles are a constant in the world of business and road trips.  And we know that hustle and adaptability are needed in challenging times.  But in finding our way back to the fastest route we find the same frustrations and irritability resurface and our workplace culture takes a hit whether it be in the form of employee turnover or lack of engagement. 

But is there a better way?

When it comes to your workplace culture, the destination is not the only goal of your team.  It is vitally necessary, but it cannot stand by itself alone.  To have a good workplace culture your team needs more.

A 1938 Harvard Research Project asked, “What makes us happy in life?”  The answer – positive relationships – by a landslide.  But how do we as leaders navigate the obstacles to reach our destination without ruining the trip for others?  How do we find the fastest route while maintaining the positive relationships that would cause others to say our organization is a good company to work for?

I suppose it takes a change in perspective. 

I heard a story several years ago about an essay competition from a local newspaper that challenged readers to submit their solutions to speed up a trip into the city that had and continued to experience the worst traffic in the world.  The selected essayist described the fastest route into London in just two words – “good company.”  What person comes to mind in your life when you hear, “good company”?  When you think of your organization do you think of it as good company?

“Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.” – Izaak Walton

In order to be a good company, we must first be good company.  But where do we start?  How do we ready ourselves for the next traffic jam?  Here are some tips for the road.

  1. Become aware in what makes you bad company
  •   Ask someone you trust to point out the things that make you irritable and bad company.  And then avoid such things however possible.
  •   My wife identified my limit at seven hours on our road trips.  We now make one overnight stop along the way. 
  1. Laugh with one another
  •   Laughter strengthens relationships, attracts others to us, enhances teamwork, help diffuse conflict, and promotes group bonding. 
  •   We try to out- do one another with really bad dad jokes on road trips.
  1. Take time to take interest in one another
  •   To be seen and heard is one of the greatest gifts we can receive from another. 
  •   Try and find out one new thing per week about each other that you didn’t already know.  Speaking in stories is the best way to engage.
  1. Eat a meal together
  •   Sharing a meal with someone is the greatest form of hospitality as it meets the basest need of a human being. 
  •   We sit down to eat a meal outside of the car as it gives us a much-needed break to the mundane nature of a long trip.

Remember, people join your team not only to arrive at a destination, but even more, to enjoy the journey.  To be a good company, you must first be good company.  Let’s choose to take the path of a great workplace culture.  After all, it’s the fastest way to get anywhere. 

See you on the highway my fellow road warriors.

Be sure to join us for the Culture Webinar later this month. Also, be sure to check our other Weekly Tips articles throughout the month of July.

If you are interested in learning more about how to identify, build, assess, and nurture your business culture, please feel free to take our culture assessment which can be found at the following link:

Company Culture Assessment

Once completed, a Thrive Consultant will review the results with you and develop a high-level action plan of next steps. 

For additional help with growing your company, contact a member of the ArboRisk Insurance team! If you’re looking to improve upon your communication skills or want to help one of your key team members develop personally, sign up for the Thrive Leadership Development package today! Additionally, if you find it difficult to find or keep quality employees, check out our Thrive Hiring & Recruiting Package.

Tom Dunn

Isn’t That Interesting?

Isn’t that Interesting?

Written by Kevin Martlage

The great CS Lewis once said, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different.” I absolutely love that quote and how it illustrates a very important point that is critical to think about as you continue to build a supportive business culture. That point is centered around awareness and your ability to intentionally understand the present, while leveraging the past, to advance towards the future. All leaders can do those three things to some extent, but my challenge is that to be a great leader, you must intentionally impact those things through your awareness of how it is impacting others and being perceived. Specifically, how can you intentionally impact the present so that you are providing enough context and understanding so your team is always in alignment with you and the strategic direction of the company?

As a business owner, your awareness around the ‘business’ side of running your company is at a high level. If it wasn’t, chances are you probably would not still be in business. As an arborist, your awareness regarding trees and how to care for them is something that you not only value as a business opportunity but is something that you are most likely highly passionate about. As a leader, you must have the ability to lead your team towards strategic and common goals and your ability to effectively lead is centered around your approach which resonates and connects with those you are leading. Awareness of what supports and detracts from that ability is important to understand as you continue to advance your team and leadership skills.

Awareness, and specifically intentional awareness, is critical to understand as you continue to enhance your business culture.  In the world of consulting my goal is to provide awareness so people can make choices. Choices about how they approach and impact their team, their leadership style, and ultimately their life. The more you can align your reality with that of your employees, the more effective you will become as a leader and the further you will be able to advance as a team. With all of this in mind, I want to introduce you to a key concept important to advancing your culture, team, and organization. That concept is what we call Mischief™. Mischief™ is something that is so incredibly impactful once understood that I personally feel it is important for everyone in the world to understand, be able to identify, learn how to eliminate, and how to effectively overcome all while building trust with those around them. With the elimination of Mischief™, I feel that the world will become a better place as we work to intentionally align perception with reality in the pursuit of greatness.

Mischief ™ is a term coined by my father that describes a key detractor which impacts personal interaction along with team and organizational effectiveness. Once understood, Mischief™ cannot be unnoticed and will be evident in everything you do. In fact, it is so prevalent in your day-to-day personal and professional lives, I challenge you to find a situation where it is not present at some level. This concept is the basis of all the consulting work I do and has significantly influenced and advanced teams and organizations around the world.

To understand Mischief™ you must first understand how it is created. The root cause of all Mischief™ is the misalignment of perception and reality. When perception and reality are not aligned, it allows those involved to become consumed with trying to figure things out intentionally or even subconsciously. When you spend time trying to ‘figure things out’ it causes disruption in terms of productivity, effectiveness, and understanding. While it ultimately disrupts your operations and team effectiveness, it has the biggest impact on team trust and alignment, which are both important for any team to reach their full potential. To help align reality and perception we must provide the proper context behind what we are communicating, the decisions we are making, and the direction we are going. To illustrate Mischief™ let me tell you a story about my friend Rick and his new boat.

I had a friend named Rick who purchased a new boat which was always something that his kids wanted, and he personally thought would be cool to have. All his family ever talked about was being able to cruise around the lake water skiing, tubing, and having fun. After doing some research, and finding a great deal, Rick purchased a 2-year-old, 24-foot Mastercraft ski boat from a High School friend. After an extensive and very expensive trip to the local water ski shop it was time for them to take their maiden voyage and do some water skiing and tubing at a relatively smaller lake near their house. Once they arrived at the lake, Rick put the boat in the water for the first time, loaded up all the equipment and kids and they headed out. As they slowly drove past all the people in the swimming area on rafts and the marina full of boats they eyed a spot about a hundred yards out for their first tube ride. Once in place, the kids jumped into the water, he hooked up the tube and off they went. While they started off slow, he quickly increased the speed and started to do donuts and S curves all over the lake. The donuts created huge waves that the kids could jump, and the S curves made it exciting for the kids to try and hold on as they drove around the lake. They were having a great time. Rick was on cloud nine, and so were his two kids, as they were realizing their dream of tubing and owning a boat.

All was going great until another boater flagged them down and waved them over to their boat. Rick slowed down and idled over to the other boat to see what was going on. Upon arrival, the reality of the situation quickly came into focus when the other boater looked back toward the shore to point out the numerous rafts and swimmers who were waving their hands trying to tell Rick to stop. Apparently, the donuts and S curves were great for tubing, but not so great for sunbathing on a raft or trying to swim in the designated swim area. Rick quickly realized that his reality of owning a boat and having fun with his kids had unintentionally disrupted those around him by not being aware of his impact on others. In his mind, he was having fun with his kids helping them live out a lifelong dream. In the eyes of those on the shore, and in other boats, he was just another ‘cowboy’ on the lake speeding around causing problems and was someone they wished would just go away.

Isn’t that interesting? The reality and perception of the situation was not in alignment so therefore, those on the shore thought he was self-centered and only cared about himself. What they did not know was he was a first-time boat owner who was trying to give his kids a great time as they lived out their lifelong dream. On the other hand, Rick did not realize the impact he was making on others, but as soon as he realized what was going on, he stopped and moved further out onto the lake where it was not making as big of an impact.  While Rick may have been a bit embarrassed, he was provided with insight into the reality of what was going on which allowed him to make a choice and move further out into the lake. In addition, those on the shore, once told what was going on, understood the reality of what was happening which helped to explain their perception of Rick and his boat. While they still may be a bit upset, they at least had more context around the situation which allowed them to understand what was really happening instead of spending time making up their own story about him while letting it ruin their day.

The boat example is a great illustration of Mischief™ and the misalignment of perception and reality. In the context of your tree company, how many times has Mischief™ come into play and disrupted your team? Specifically, have there been any situations where your best thought out decision was not well received by your team and caused lost time as they tried to “figure it out”? Have you ever been ‘Rick’ with the best intentions in the world only to find out that the perception of those you are leading is not in alignment with your reality or thought process? On the other side, have you ever been the ‘person on the shore’ that can only see the ‘Cowboy’ on the lake where you immediately thought the worst only to find out later that maybe you didn’t know the whole story and NOW it makes more sense?

I’d like to challenge you to spend the next few days trying to identify those areas of your organization, and even your personal life, where Mischief™ is present. When you identify those instances, I want to say to yourself, “isn’t that interesting” as you try to  understand what is really going on. The phrase, “isn’t that interesting” is one that we teach to all our clients to help identify when Mischief™ is present and to trigger their mind to start clarifying the perception with the reality, or facts, of the situation.

Isn’t that interesting that Mischief™ is everywhere? Eliminating Mischief™ will significantly improve productivity as you intentionally align reality with perception which will allow your team to trust the path forward. This will not only enhance your ability as a leader but will also help your team continue to understand and advance toward their full potential.

To learn more about the concept of Mischief™ be sure to join us for the Culture Webinar later this month. Also, be sure to check our other Weekly Tips articles throughout the month of July.

If you are interested in learning more about how to identify, build, assess, and nurture your business culture, please feel free to take our culture assessment which can be found at the following link:

Company Culture Assessment

Once completed, a Thrive Consultant will review the results with you and develop a high-level action plan of next steps. 

For additional help with growing your company, contact a member of the ArboRisk Insurance team! If you’re looking to improve upon your communication skills or want to help one of your key team members develop personally, sign up for the Thrive Leadership Development package today! Additionally, if you find it difficult to find or keep quality employees, check out our Thrive Hiring & Recruiting Package.

Tom Dunn

What If Everything You Knew About Business Culture Was Wrong?

What if Everything You knew about business culture was wrong?

Written by Kevin Martlage

The ArboRisk Thrive Team has dedicated the month of July as Culture Month. Throughout the next 4 weeks we are going to be providing you with insight and information regarding how you can build a supportive and thriving business culture within your tree care company. However, we are not just going to talk about any business culture, we are going to discuss building a business culture that will significantly impact your employees, your customers, and your ability to identify what you are leaving on the table regarding productivity, communication, trust, and impact.

To kick off Culture Month, I want to challenge your thinking by asking you a question, what if everything you knew about your business culture was wrong? More specifically, if I were to ask you how you would describe your current business culture, what would you say? Do you know what a good business culture looks like and if so, is your perception of ‘good’ in alignment with what your employees would say and feel is important? Those are some tough questions to answer especially if you are running a busy tree care company that is focused on getting the work done and providing great customer service.

My guess is that you would probably answer those questions by using a few key responses like, “we have a great culture” or “my team knows I am here to support them” or “what’s a business culture?”. All those statements are very common things I hear as I continue to work with clients, in all industries, regarding building a supportive and thriving culture. To be honest, what good looks like for your company may not be what good looks like for your competitor down the street, or a tree care company in another state. Your business culture is unique to your team and your company and is grounded in your leadership approach and style. However, there are a few key things that need to have intentional focus placed on them if you are to truly advance the business culture of your company.

Over my 30-year career, I have had the opportunity to work in, help build, and support some of the best business cultures on the planet. In contrast, I have also worked in, help build, and support some of the worst business cultures on the planet. As I reflect on what made the best cultures the best and the worst the worst, one thing always comes to mind and that is alignment. Alignment is something that is so critical to building a supportive business culture, it is typically the root cause of what is causing all disruption when I am hired to work with a company to enhance their culture. Alignment is also why I challenged you with my first questions about what if everything you knew about business culture was wrong. Typically, alignment is not the first thing that comes to mind when someone is asked to describe their business culture. Usually the description is around communication, trust, support, impact, etc. While those things are certainly important, it is the alignment of perceptions with reality around those things that is critical if you are to define and advance your culture.

To illustrate my point, let’s look specifically at verbal communication. Verbal communication is certainly important if you are to keep your employees informed, provide them with feedback, or simply talk with someone while you are on the job site. It is also critical as you continue to build relationships with your team members, so they feel supported and engaged in the business. Without verbal communication, it would be nearly impossible to interact with each other effectively while you complete a job, and it would be difficult to provide great customer service as you try and figure our exactly what the client has hired you to do regarding their trees. I would assume that we could all agree that without verbal communication, your job as tree care owner, being a supportive leader, or being a crew member would be very difficult.

Regardless of my point about how communication is important, you could still figure out a way to communicate through written communication, sign language, gestures, or emails. Luckily we can communicate with our team almost instantaneously through verbal interactions, face-to-face meetings, text messages, cell phones, and emails so typically communication is not a problem. However, how do you make sure that your intended context about what you are communicating is received exactly how you intended it to be received? How do you ensure that your team understands the same reality that you are talking about? Are you providing enough context and information to ensure your team is on the same page? When your reality is being perceived differently than how you intended it, that causes disruption due to misalignment.

Another way of looking at the importance of alignment can be centered around the last big decision you had to make as a tree care owner. Any successful owner would go through the proper steps to ensure that decisions regarding the company would be the right ones. This may include a financial analysis, a review of risk vs reward, and a determination of how much of a positive impact the decision may have on the company. That is just common practice as you continue to grow and advance your company that you started and have nurtured for all these years. So, after the decision has been made and you progress with making it happen, has your team always been on board with that decision? Have there ever been times when you thought you had made the best decision ever, only to find out that others did not feel the same? Perhaps, you even had to reconsider your decision after already making it because there was push back from your team that you had not considered.

If you reflect on those instances where maybe a decision was not received as well as you thought, I can almost guarantee that the negative response had something to do with alignment. Specifically, the alignment of your reality and the “why” behind your decision and the other person’s perception of what the decision should have been. Additionally, I bet once you realized there was push back, you tried to defend your decision to show them your thought process and to convince them it was the right approach. Wanting to be right is basic human nature. No one wants to be incorrect or proven wrong, so how as leaders do we ensure that our intention and the “why” behind what we do and how we support our team is aligned with what our team thinks and believes is being supportive?

The reason alignment is so crucial to building a supportive work culture is because when reality and perception are not aligned it causes lost productivity and lost time because we are trying to “figure things out”. Alignment is also important because as leaders we need to always ensure that the perception of our employees is in alignment with what good looks like in their mind and what we want to provide. We can have the best work culture outlined and in place while being the best leader on the planet, however if our employees do not feel the same about what’s important to making a supportive work culture or your ability as a leader, you will never reach your team’s full potential.

During the next three weeks we are going to challenge your perception of what a supportive work culture is like. We are going to introduce you to a few concepts that will significantly transform your team, your culture, and your business. These concepts have been taught and proven effective in global fortune 100 companies, family-owned companies, church groups, athletic teams, and some of the most dysfunctional teams you could ever imagine. The first concept, Mischief, will be the topic of next week’s article. Mischief is all about the alignment of perception and reality and how, as a leader, you can intentionally provide context and meaning so that the path forward can be trusted. Our goal is to provide you with some unique insight and awareness that will allow you the opportunity to make some choices on how to advance your team. We look forward to taking you on this journey and appreciate your commitment to your team, your company, the industry, and the impact you as a leader can make.  

If you are interested in learning more about how to identify, build, assess, and nurture your business culture, please feel free to take our culture assessment which can be found at the following link:

Company Culture Assessment

Once completed, a Thrive Consultant will review the results with you and develop a high-level action plan of next steps. 

For additional help with growing your company, contact a member of the ArboRisk Insurance team! If you’re looking to improve upon your communication skills or want to help one of your key team members develop personally, sign up for the Thrive Leadership Development package today! Additionally, if you find it difficult to find or keep quality employees, check out our Thrive Hiring & Recruiting Package.

Tom Dunn

Properly Insuring Rented Equipment

Properly Insuring Rented Equipment

Written by Tom Dunn

Just as employees are the valuable life blood of a successful tree care company, the equipment that is used to complete the production work is also a critical piece of the puzzle and insuring it properly is of utmost importance. Your equipment is typically covered under an Inland Marine/Contractor’s Equipment insurance policy, which is a pretty straight forward insurance policy until you start renting or borrowing equipment to or from others.  We’re going to go over some of the coverage concerns that you need to be aware of when you rent or borrow to or from others. 

Renting/Borrowing Equipment From Others

There will certainly come a time due to unforeseen events like equipment breakdown or theft or just not owning the right piece of equipment to complete a specific job requires that you lease, rent or borrow a piece of equipment to meet your tree care business needs. Your Commercial General Liability will pay for injuries or damage you cause while using a rented piece of equipment, however, the actual rented equipment itself likely will not be covered. Most insurance policies exclude property that is temporarily in your possession. 

So how do you insure the physical damage to the piece of rented equipment? If you are renting from an established equipment rental business, they may offer equipment rental insurance. We often recommend tree care companies to take the rental insurance if it is available depending on the cost and terms of the coverage. 

If you do not choose to purchase the rental agency’s coverage, or they don’t offer it, then you need to look to your current Inland Marine/Contractor’s Equipment policy for coverage. There may be a small amount of coverage (usually only $25,000) for this automatically built into the policy. Check with your insurance agent to learn what your policy covers automatically for rented equipment. If the piece of equipment is under that automatic coverage limit, then you should be just fine. 

When the value of the rented equipment is more than the automatic coverage limit, then you will need to add coverage for the rented equipment directly on the policy. For a short term rental, this is done with selecting a limit of coverage that is equal to the value of the piece of equipment. For a long term rental, you may be able to add the exact details of the machine onto your policy. Depending on how your insurance coverage is set up, there may be a reporting condition that requires you to report the total amount of expenditures for contractor’s equipment that is leased or borrowed from others within 30 days from the end of your policy. This could create an adjustment to the overall premium. 

Another word of caution. If you are renting a piece of equipment and are required to sign a rental agreement make sure you read and understand your obligations. The contract may say that you are responsible to replace the piece of equipment with a brand new, similar make and model. The majority of rented equipment insurance policies only provide coverage on an Actual Cash Value (ACV) basis, which means they don’t pay for the replacement cost, but rather the value of the machine in today’s world. There can be a significant difference in these two amounts and therefore could create a number of associated out of pocket costs. 

Equipment Rental contracts also usually have some form of indemnification/hold harmless language that has someone agreeing to hold another harmless for certain claims, losses and damages. While these are commonly used, there is no standard language used and some indemnification clauses will be more one sided than others.

Renting/Borrowing To Others 

On the flip side, what if one of your valued employees asks if they can “borrow” a piece of equipment to do work at their own property? As soon as your equipment leaves your care, custody and control, your Inland Marine/Contractor’s Equipment policy will stop and there will be no coverage for the physical damage to that piece of equipment. Because there likely is not going to be a contract in place for this equipment with whoever you borrow to, you will not be reimbursed if the equipment is damaged or stolen. 

Your liability exposure from the borrowed piece of equipment would likely be covered under your General Liability policy, however as a business owner, you are increasing the exposure unnecessarily not to mention also increasing the wear and tear on the equipment. Unless you are going to have the employee sign a contract and provide rented equipment coverage for the damage to the equipment, our recommendation is to avoid this situation and don’t rent/borrow your equipment to anyone.   

To conclude, here are three takeaways for insurance concerns and rented equipment:  

  1. Before you need to rent equipment, make sure you understand obligations of any rental contract. 
  2. Talk to your agent to see if you are adequately covered under your contractor’s equipment policy.
  3. Avoid the practice of letting employees borrow company equipment for their personal use. 


If you have any other insurance related questions, please connect with an ArboRisk team member today. We have many resources that can help you with this, in addition to our Thrive Risk Management Program, which can provide one-on-one help to take your business to new heights.

Tom Dunn