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Protecting your trees and your pocketbook for hurricane season

Florida doesn't require arborists to be licensed.
Credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
A man rides his bike on Bayshore Boulevard as palm trees begin to feel the wind in Tampa, Florida, on September 10, 2017, where Tampa residents are fleeing the evacuation zones ahead of Hurricane Irma's landfall.

Editor's Note: This story was originally published in May 2018. We have updated it, in light of Hurricane Dorian's approach to Florida.

Some neighborhoods across Florida and the Bay area are still getting back to normal after Hurricane Irma. And, with the 2019 hurricane season well underway, it's important to protect yourself and your wallet.

Homes were damaged and trees toppled during Irma.

One woman says a company wanted to charge her $8,000 to remove a tree off of her home in Dunedin.

“Most of this tree was laying over on the house,” she told us.

Arborist Tim Murray says now is the time to be thinking about your trees before the next big storm hits. He estimates they removed around 40 trees off of homes after Hurricane Irma.

“Get a certified arborist out to inspect your trees,” says Murray, of Murray’s Tree Service.

That is key - making sure they are certified and insured. Unlike some states, Florida doesn't require arborists to be licensed.

That's why Murray says you have to ask additional questions when you invite someone over to your home to inspect.

“Check on insurances,” says Murray.

And you can also check your trees before you decide to make that call.

"Trees in decline will have died back. You look at the end of trees, you’ll see no leaves. Trees should be full this time of year, so it’s telling us that something is wrong with the tree,” says Murray.

Murray says watch out for over-pruning.

“Definitely, you can wound it. Trees don't heal. To stop the decay process, you have to cut it at right spot,” says Murray.

Because taking care of that giant shrub now, could save you big in the future.

If somebody does come out to remove your tree, many companies will not ask for any money upfront.

If you do end up paying a deposit, pay by credit card. That will allow you to dispute charges if a company never shows up to do the job.

Make sure you document everything.

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