It's your lucky month! Pots o' benefits and grace

As a member of Terrafirma and the Land Trust Alliance, you have access to many great resources — plus help from dedicated staff!

On The Learning Center:

On the Nonprofit Risk Management Center:

 

Log on as a Land Trust Alliance affiliate by clicking on this logo on the right side of the Conservation Defense Clearinghouse home page and get free and discounted risk and insurance resources.

 

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about risk management resources or anything else, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for Hannah or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

Thanks,
Hannah
 
P.S. Please be sure to get in any lingering 2016 claims before the grace period ends on April 30, 2017. File a claim under your 2016 policy by heading to our website and clicking on your 2016 Application on the Welcome screen, then “submit a claim” from the menu on the left.


TerraBite: Heads up on Possible Rate Change in 2018

Terrafirma is about to start its fifth policy year with over 500 members, 50 covered claims, and over $1 million paid out for covered claims. Thank you, members, for keeping this shared conservation defense liability risk pool strong.

Since Terrafirma started in 2013, your premium rate has been stable because we know how dear every penny is for conservation. But inflation is picking up, costs are increasing and claims payments are growing. It is time to make sure that Terrafirma remains solvent and protects the capital and reserves that all the member land trusts have worked to establish.

The actuaries are crunching the numbers and making projections about when and how much premiums may have to increase to keep Terrafirma there for you. Our initial assessment indicates that an increase in premium fees may be necessary for the 2018 policy year. Please know, however, that the Terrafirma member-elected Members Committee and ARMS staff know that everyone is on a tight budget, and we remain committed to keeping premiums as low as possible.

We also are committed to keeping Terrafirma members informed and protected, which is why we are alerting you now about this process and timing. Thank you for all you do for lasting conservation. Let us know if you have any questions.

 

Thank you,

Leslie

 

New Year, New Webinars

Was your New Year’s resolution to expand your skill set and benefit your organization, all without leaving your desk? We can help!
Learn from master storyteller Andy Goodman how to create persuasive narratives. As he once said, “Even if you have reams of evidence on your side, remember: numbers numb, jargon jars, and nobody ever marched on Washington because of a pie chart. If you want to connect with your audience, tell them a story.” Andy Goodman’s webinar, “How to Craft Your Most Persuasive Message,” is on February 15. Thanks to generous donors, the Land Trust Alliance is offering this webinar for just $65. Learn more and register today.

And while you’re registering for webinars, remember to benefit your land trust’s wallet by taking a qualifying Risk Management course before you submit on February 2! Due to popular demand, Terrafirma is offering one last webinar for the season on January 25. Sign up here for this free webinar. And of course, the Risk Management online course can be taken at any time for credit.
Have questions? Please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for myself or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.
Thanks,
Hannah

Don’t run a-fowl of the Terrafirma deadline

Fall is in the air, and soon there will be turkeys roasting in the oven, pies cooling on the counter, and Terrafirma applications being updated for 2017. Applications will open December 1, 2016, and the last day to submit will be February 2, 2017.

Remember that risk management training is available for free, and your land trust can receive a discount on your 2017 premiums just for participating! This can be done via a webinar or our quick and easy online course. To qualify, training must be completed every year by a member of senior leadership.

Have questions? Please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for myself or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.


Thank you, and happy holidays!
Hannah
Conservation Defense Associate
ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC
1660 L Street NW, Ste. 1100, Washington, DC 20036
(202) 800-2248  |  help@terrafirma.org

 


P.S. Congratulations to Marlene Frisbie and Laurie Smith, the newest Members Committee representatives – we’re happy to have you on board!


Vet Your Expert to Avoid Huge Bills

Experts can be crucial to the result of a case – but they come with their own risks, like last-minute astronomical fees. They could even refuse to testify if they do not receive payment first. Here are some tips to avoid huge unexpected bills:

 

  • Get attorney references before hiring an expert.
     
  • Have a clear contract that holds them accountable for documenting time and resources spent, and for billing regularly.
     
  • Stay in contact and request frequent updates. You want to be able to identify problems with spending or efficiency as early as possible.

 

Based on this article from the American Bar Association.

P.S. Check out our LinkedIn for more tips and stories!


Watch your grass grow

When you’re in a conflict with a landowner, a long history of written reports (even short reports) documenting visits to and viewings of the property can make a huge difference in court. Reports should include a visual inspection of the property, along with written documentation of the inspection – and they are required annually in order to be eligible for Terrafirma coverage. Click here for a refresher on other important details, such as what to include in a monitoring report.

Come hear more stories about land trust successes using Terrafirma at Rally: The National Land Conservation Conference in Minneapolis, MN from October 28-30, with workshops on insurance, risk management and Terrafirma stories.

Have questions? Please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for myself or 802-262-6051 for Leslie. Or ask us for an in-person appointment at Rally. We hope to see you there!


Thanks,
Hannah

Conservation Defense Associate
ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC
1660 L Street NW, Ste. 1100, Washington, DC 20036
(202) 800-2248  |  help@terrafirma.org

 

Reputation is your best risk balancing tool

A good reputation means that the public has confidence in your organization – that they’re willing to give you the benefit of the doubt if any issues should arise. That’s why active reputation management is crucial risk management as well.

You may have heard about tax shelter schemes and the threat they pose to the reputation of conservation. Terrafirma does not cover expenses for tax-related cases, so cautionary measures as outlined in the Land Trust Alliance’s advisory can help your land trust keep your hands clean while you work to keep the planet clean. If you need a sounding board, please call or write to:
Russ Shay at 202-800-2230
Leslie Ratley-Beach at 802-262-6051

Have questions? Please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri or 202-800-2248 for myself.

 

Thanks,
Hannah


Terrafirma is not like car insurance

Terrafirma is not like other insurance companies. It is a nonprofit, specifically created by and for land trusts. While a typical car insurance company would raise premium rates following a claim, Terrafirma does not. You can file a claim and give timely notice as soon as an issue begins without worrying about the price of your insurance going up. For a refresher on when to file a claim, click here.

not like car insurance.JPG


Overtime Rules

Part of effective risk management is planning ahead to make sure you’ll be able to cover all of your expenses—legal and organizational. That’s why we want to make sure that everyone knows about the new overtime rules that will go into effect on December 1, 2016.

Most employees earning under $47,500 will be entitled to overtime compensation. See the Department of Labor’s special overview and guidance for nonprofit organizations. The National Council of Nonprofits also published special guidance: Overtime Regulations and the Impact on Nonprofits. Nonprofits with budget years ending on June 30 will need to develop new budgets for the fiscal year beginning in two weeks that take these new changes into account. Nonprofits with budget years ending on December 31 have more time to adjust and plan for 2017. Most experts assess that tax exempts don’t have much to fret about, but if you do fundraising across state lines please pay extra attention as this may apply to you.


When the Board Walks the Plank

Board members and staff don’t always agree — especially in the nonprofit world where passion and idealism can turn ordinary meetings into potential conflict.

To help navigate choppy waters, the Land Trust Alliance is offering a complimentary webinar today at 3 p.m. Eastern on Directors and Officers insurance, as well as many other types of insurance, to help you plan for conflict and missteps that can lead to a full-fledged lawsuit. To sign up, please send us an email.

Have questions? Please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for myself or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

P.S. Terrafirma’s Annual Meeting took place in Burlington, Vermont on May 4th and was productive and successful! Pictured below: the hardworking volunteer committee members who devote their time and skill to making Terrafirma work for all 493 of its member land trusts.

 

 

Get off my lawn!

Does your land trust have written policies and procedures for dealing with an encroachment violation? Here is just one example of an action step that your organization can take: Ask neighbors to be your eyes. They can be your most valuable witnesses for up-to-date, firsthand information. For eight more tips on documenting, responding and more, click here.

Still have questions about handling an encroachment, or anything else? Please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for myself or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

Thanks,

Hannah

 

Year in Review: 2015

 

 

Infographic

Terrafirma now has 493 members, operates in 48 states plus D.C., and insures over 7.6 million acres. That’s bigger than the state of Maryland! Thank you to all of the owner members of Terrafirma for growing stronger each year.

The numbers are in: Check out the financials page to see this year’s annual report, financial statement and 990.

Stay on top of any potential claims you have lingering from 2015. You have only 14 more days to file a placeholder claim for the 2015 policy year! See indicators of when to file a claim »

Make sure your conservation success is a part of the Land Trust Alliance's 2015 National Land Trust Census! The survey closes on March 31. More than facts or figures, this survey shows the collective impact of land conservation across the country and is featured in prominent national media outlets.

Hungry for more TerraBites? Check out our LinkedIn.

If you have questions about updating your application or anything else, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for myself or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

Thanks,

Hannah


2015 isn’t over…yet

 

The 2015 Terrafirma policy period ends at midnight, March 1, 2016. However, the policy allows members a last chance to submit claims for issues that started in the 2015 policy period. From March 1 to April 30, 2016 (60 days) you will have the option to file under your 2015 policy (for claims that started before March 1) or under your 2016 policy (for brand spanking new claims).

This means that you have options.

To file a claim for 2015, go to your welcome screen and click “View 2015 Application.” From there, select “File a Claim” from the menu on the left side of your screen.

We’re here to help! If you have questions about the grace period or anything else, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for myself or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

Thanks,
Hannah

P.S. The IRS announced that as of February 29, organizations who file Form 990-N electronic submissions must file forms on the IRS website (IRS.gov) instead of the Urban Institute's website. Form 990-N only applies to charities with net annual receipts of less than $50,000.


Missing something?

Make sure you list all of your parcels when updating your Terrafirma application! Anything left out of the category of legal interests (easement, land, trail) you insure might not be eligible for coverage of a later claim. And because Terrafirma requires that you insure all of your parcels within the categories you select, your claim could be jeopardized if the parcel is missing. Double-check and compare to your database!

Worried that you forgot something? Email help@terrafirma.org and we will help you update your application, even if you have already submitted (prior to February 2, 2016).

If you have questions about updating your application or anything else, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for myself or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

Thanks,
Hannah

 

P.S. It is not too late to secure a 2016 Risk Management discount! This can be done via webinar or our free and quick online course. To qualify, training must be completed every year by a member of senior leadership.


When Sharing Isn't Caring

The holidays are a time of giving and sharing, but not all giving and sharing is good. Many conservation easements prohibit subdivision — so a generous landowner who decides to give the back lot to a relative may be violating the easement. And since Terrafirma insurance divides parcels by number of owners, the division would affect your coverage.

Just asking the landowner about subdivision sometimes isn’t enough. Here is a list of things to watch out for:

  • Any new deeds or easements being prepared or recorded
  • Shared ownership with multiple parties
  • Wills that give the property to multiple heirs
  • Wills that grant a life estate in part of the property
  • Plans to give a house lot to a relative
  • Bankruptcy, foreclosure or divorce proceedings

If you discover a subdivision, don’t hesitate to file a claim or placeholder claim. The situation may be simple to resolve but why take the risk? Filing a claim is easy!

 

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about property divisions or anything else, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for myself or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

Thanks,
Hannah


Gobble Up These Risk Management Resources

Do you want to start managing your organization’s risk, but you’re not sure where to turn? You have many free resources available!

On the Learning Center:

The Nonprofit Risk Management Center:

  • Log on as an affiliate using these instructions for free and discounted risk and insurance resources.

Reminder: You still need resources to hire experts (see reserve calculator) and it is smart to get a preapproval from your board to spend up to the $5000 deductible on disputed violations and trespass and challenges.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about risk management resources or anything else, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for Hannah, or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

Thanks,
Hannah

 

P.S. The Terrafirma enrollment and update period begins December 1st. The 2016 Risk Management discount can be attained via webinar attendance or our online course


Keep Your Cool in a Hot Headed Encounter

Working with a land trust, you will encounter all sorts of landowners and neighbors and others. Some will be more engaging than others. How can you be most effective with someone who isn’t as skillful or poised as you?

  • Stay calm. If you feel yourself getting angry or upset, step back mentally from the situation, take a breath and remember what you want to accomplish. Your kindness and calmness can refocus the tone of the situation.
  • Be clear. Subtleties of words can lead to confusion. Emotional finesse however is essential.
  • Stay aware of consequences. If done calmly and clearly and without rancor, stating the direct consequences of the individual’s actions may be enough to lead to collaboration.
  • Give it a rest. Diplomacy is critical. Come back another day to revisit the conversation.
 

Remember you are the pro! Demonstrate your compassion, confidence and determination in all you do.


Back to School Savings for Land Trusts

School supplies can be expensive — but the Legal Defense Reserves Calculator is free! Get a better forecast of the adequate legal defense reserve you need with the Land Trust Alliance’s new calculator. The calculator enables you to calculate reserves tailored to your specific situation. The Alliance worked with independent actuaries to develop the calculator using actuarial analysis and data collected from hundreds of land trusts across the nation, building upon previous studies of basic thresholds for defense funding. The tailored results can help you survive significant legal challenges or a series of challenges.

Access the calculator in The Learning Center or contact us by email to receive the calculator as an Excel file.


Whose Bill Is It Anyway?

It is a common misconception that the losing side of a lawsuit pays the legal costs for both sides. In fact, the general rule in the U.S. is that each party pays its own fees. But carefully worded conservation easements can prevent land trusts from incurring excessive legal costs when defending lasting conservation.

When drafting an easement, one can include a clause saying that in case of a lawsuit, the landowner pays for all legal fees, including all experts, attorneys and costs. Since the land trust is responsible forever for upholding the public interest in the land and is a charity, this is an equitable arrangement. Be sure to talk to your attorney and read this practical pointer for more details.


So Much to Discover: Keep in Line When You're Online

Social media posts, texting and online chats are part of everyday life for many - but did you know that lawyers can use that information against you in court? If opposing counsel files a written demand (called a discovery request), you must give them everything you have ever posted or written about that dispute.

Check out this horror story about a father-daughter Facebook post and settlement. Lawyers can request copies of text messages from your phone company - and you can be sanctioned for thousands of dollars for erasing texts and video posts before a lawsuit.

Our advice: Pick up the phone. Be careful who you share your thoughts with and how. Even if you aren’t posting online, information may be demanded and obtained from your private email.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about social media or anything else, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for Hannah or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Last month we wrote about Lyme Land Conservation Trust and their major victory for land trusts everywhere. What turned the tide in their favor? Persuasive Baseline Documentation Reports, which can include maps, descriptions, and photographs. President John Pritchard said these photographs were "critical to their case"--the judge was visibly moved by the before and after pictures that clearly displayed extensive damage. As you make your own plans for managing the property that your land trust holds, don't forget this crucial component.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about Baseline Documentation Reports or anything else, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for Hannah, or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

Thanks,
Hannah

 

Visit us on LinkedIn


A duty and a plan


“We have a duty and we couldn’t shirk it.”

Executive Director George Moore spoke the truth when a reporter asked about Lyme Land Conservation Trust’s decision to go to court to uphold lasting conservation. For conservation organizations, upholding the spirit of conservation easements and protecting land that they own isn’t optional. It is a duty owed to neighbors, members, funders, the public, regulators, and the land itself. This is why Terrafirma insures land trusts when they need to sue as well when someone sues a land trust. Read the full story on this heroic defense of a rural community’s land ethic.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about filing claims or anything else, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for Hannah, or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

Thanks,
Lorri

P.S. You can now visit the Terrafirma website to download your policy, view the 2014 financial documents and Annual Report to Members, or *NEW* add newly acquired parcels to your policy any time during the year.

May 5th, 2015

A rose by any other name

The Terrafirma policy states that one deductible and one limit of liability applies to each claim or set of interrelated claims - but what does it mean for claims to be interrelated? Interrelated claims are based on the same facts or circumstances. Let’s say your land trust files a claim in 2014 for a landowner in violation of its easement, incurs $300,000 in legal costs, and then incurs an additional $250,000 in costs for the same issue in 2015. Unfortunately, you could not file an additional, separate claim for $250,000 - you would be limited to the $500,000 cap for all interrelated claims stemming from the violation. But there is a bright side!  So long as these thorny issues stem from the same branch, you only have to pay one deductible for all interrelated claims.  And that rose smells quite sweet.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about premium calculations, filing a claim, or anything else, please let us know. You can reply to this email, email us directly or call 202-800-2248 for me, 202-800-2219 for Lorri, or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.


Thank you,
Hannah


The early bird never misses a claim

Under some insurance policies, merely filing a claim can drive up your premium rate. Terrafirma is different—it never penalizes land trusts for doing their jobs of conservation defense! While your Terrafirma policy requires immediate filing of a claim, it does not increase your premium. Most importantly, failure to file immediately might result in the claim being denied. Timing counts, so if you have something now, please file a claim by March 1, 2015. We will help you sort out the details and are always available to assist you. It's easy: go to the Terrafirma website, login and click on “Submit a Claim.”

 We’re here to help! If you have any questions about premium calculations, filing a claim, or anything else, please let us know. You can reply to this email, email us directly or call:

202-800-2219 for Lorri

202-800-2248 for Hannah

802-262-6051 for Leslie


Free webinars for Affiliates

Every January, millions of people across America make a New Year’s resolution to volunteer more and give back to the community.  To truly benefit from these good intentions, your organization should have a plan for how to support volunteers and handle the risks that come with them.  From preventing injuries to preventing lawsuits, there are a lot of pitfalls that you can avoid with careful planning.   To help you with this planning, the Nonprofit Risk Management Center is offering a FREE webinar for “Affiliates Only” on Myths of Volunteer Management.  The webinar is on Wednesday, January 28 at 2pm ET.  If you miss it, you can view the recording on the Nonprofit Risk Management Center.  Registration is simple.  Just email Kay Nakamura and ask for instructions.  Be sure to mention that you are a member of the Land Trust Alliance and therefore a Nonprofit Risk Management Center Affiliate.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about Nonprofit Risk Management Center Affiliate benefits or anything else, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

January 27th, 2015

Make a list and check it twice

When transit companies purchase insurance for their fleet of taxis or buses, they have to list every taxi driver or bus driver in their application.  Conservation defense is similar.  For each category of property right you choose to insure (conservation easement, trail easement, fee land, etc.) you have to list every parcel.  If you leave out parcels owned by some landowners, it prevents Terrafirma from accurately determining how much your insurance should cost.  Worse, it could cause problems later on when you’re trying to submit a claim.  So make sure when you’re enrolling or updating your application to include all of the parcels for each category of property rights you’ve chosen to insure.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about listing parcels or anything else, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.


The best defense

They say the best defense is a good offense.  So if someone damages the conservation rights owned by your land trust or seems likely to do so, tell Terrafirma immediately. If it is a covered claim Terrafirma can help initiate a lawsuit to help you protect the public interest in the land.  Remember:  

  1. If a landowner is violating your easement or a neighbor is encroaching on your land, they may never initiate a lawsuit—why should they when they’re getting exactly what they want?
  2. Ignoring violations of easements or trespass could confer impermissible private benefit which could result in the land trust losing its tax-exempt status.
  3. Even if it looks like you are going to resolve the problem, you never know if it might come unstuck and then your Terrafirma claim might be too late.

Take note of trespass and violations early and notify Terrafirma of any possible claims.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about initiating lawsuits or anything else, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

November 21st, 2014

When is it better to come in second?

When is it better to come in second? For insurance, it's when you want to keep your premiums low. That's why Terrafirma is backup insurance. If you have other insurance (such as general liability insurance or title insurance) that covers a particular claim, Terrafirma will wait until you've exhausted that coverage before it starts to cover the claim.  And Terrafirma may later let other insurance (such as D&O insurance for board members) cover counterclaims or crossclaims.  By letting other insurers take first place in this situation, Terrafirma can offer you more coverage without charging an arm and a leg.  You can read more about this in paragraph 3.9 in your Terrafirma policy in the exclusions section. The exclusions are also on the website here.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about exclusions or anything else, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

October 30th, 2014

Make the rules work in your favor

When you need an expert report for a lawsuit, you may be better off getting your outside attorney to request it for you.  Because lawyers don’t have to reveal their notes and correspondence in court where the land trust is seeking their legal advice, your lawyer’s discussions with the expert (and, depending on your state’s rules, even the report itself) can be protected from the other side.  Being able to keep your disagreements with your experts confidential can really help your case.  For more information, check out this practical pointer on attorney-client privilege.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about attorney-client privilege or anything else, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.


Ask questions, get answers

One of the easiest ways to find out about potential title issues is to just ask.  When you are monitoring, ask the landowner if they plan on giving a deed to anybody for any reason.  Even well-intentioned landowners may create issues by giving rights to children or spouses that conflict with the easement restrictions.  Asking if the landowner plans on adjusting the land boundaries can help resolve title issues before any great harm arises.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about questions for monitors or anything else, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

August 26th, 2014

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