Terrafirma Tips

Terrafirma is a unique insurance company – a nonprofit, member-owned risk retention group, created specifically to help land trusts. Being so different can lead to some confusion. We'd like to address a few common questions and misconceptions:

  • You must file a claim when you first learn of the incident – not when litigation starts. For example, if a land trust discovers a trespass involving cut trees in January of 2019, but waits until after April 30 (the end of the 2018 grace period for filing claims) to file the claim, they will likely be barred from coverage for not reporting in time.
  • The policy year is not the same as the calendar year – it is March 1 to March 1. There is a 60 day grace period at the end of each policy period.
  • Rates won’t go up because you filed a claim. Claim history and rates are completely independent - $63 per parcel for everyone, minus any discounts.
  • A placeholder is a full claim, and there is no need to re-file the claim to be heard for a coverage determination. Just send us a quick e-mail! See more information on placeholder versus regular claims here.
  • Everything is online except for payments, which must be sent in via check. We use check payments for maximum security and cost efficiency.
 
 

Don’t wait, file before it’s too late!

When filing a claim with Terrafirma, timing is crucial. For example, say that you are performing annual monitoring and see that the neighbor is encroaching onto easement property. You would flag it on the monitoring report, then the next step would be to file a claim with Terrafirma. It can take years for an issue to escalate to the point that it requires legal intervention. If you waited until then to notify Terrafirma, the claim would likely be denied because it was not filed in time.

In order for a claim to be eligible for coverage, it must be filed with Terrafirma within the policy year that you or anyone else at the land trust first became aware of the issue. The policy year is not the same as the calendar year – it runs from March 1 of the start of the policy year to March 1 of the next year, plus a 60 day window for filing claims. Filing a claim is quick, easy, and does not affect the cost of your premium. See our handy infographic here for more tips on when to file.

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

Thanks,
Hannah

Hannah Flake

Conservation Defense Associate

ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC

(202) 800-2248 | help@terrafirma.org

Hungry for more TerraBites? Check out our LinkedIn

 

 

 P.S. Will you be attending Rally on October 11-13? Seminars 6 and 15 and Workshops A01, A13, B01, B09, D02 and F06 qualify for the Terrafirma Risk Management discount. Remember to sign in on the Terrafirma attendance sheet to make sure you get credit!

 

Devising to Avoid Divisions

The no division clause in a conservation easement can be crucial. It protects the easement’s habitat and scenic values while promoting wildlife movement. It also avoids land fragmentation, conflicting management and the unnecessary costs and burdens of extra monitoring and enforcement for multiple parcels. Are you using annual monitoring visits to ask the important questions that will help you to determine if this clause could be violated?

Rather than pepper the landowner with questions, try to engage them in a friendly conversation that involves the following:

  • Has the address changed?
  • Has any portion of property been sold, no matter how small?
  • Has any portion of property been given to anyone, even a relative, no matter how small?
  • Has any portion of property been leased, mortgaged, exchanged, or liened, no matter how small?
  • Have you granted rights to anyone, even a relative or neighbor, to anyone else of any kind?
  • Have you changed the name of the owner of the property such as creating a company, partnership or trust of any kind?
  • Have land uses changed in any way?

Explain that the easement addresses divisions, and that understanding the owner’s plans now means no unpleasant surprises down the road – for you and for the landowner.

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

Thanks,
Hannah

Hannah Flake

Conservation Defense Associate

ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC

(202) 800-2248 | help@terrafirma.org

 

Hungry for more TerraBites? Check out our LinkedIn

 

Confronting Condemnation

Condemnation threats to conservation mount across the country. Land trusts who successfully deflect or reduce these threats find that immediate action in the condemnation process helps to defend their conservation properties.

Generally, land trust folks report that these steps help reduce loss of conservation land:

  • engage with and educate the condemning authority early in the process,
  • try to find alternatives,
  • discuss the threat with experienced legal counsel, and
  • involve the appropriate parties, including the landowner and potentially the media

See more advice and resources on the Land Trust Alliance's Practical Pointer on Condemnation, available via The Learning Center. Please ask us for assistance. We are happy to share tips and information we have gleaned even though Terrafirma excludes condemnation challenges from coverage.

 
 

Keeping the promise

A recent win in court for Three Valley Conservation Trust (Ohio) could help land trusts in other states as we all work together to uphold conservation permanence.

The case involved two siblings, James and Janis Taylor, who sold a conservation easement on their family farm to Three Valley Conservation Trust. The easement prevented any division of the farm. However, when Janis wanted James to buy her out, James asked the court to let him divide the property despite the restrictions, and the judge sided with him.

Three Valley Conservation Trust successfully appealed the decision with the help of Terrafirma, the Land Trust Alliance, Coalition of Ohio Land Trusts and American Farmland Trust. On appeal, the court sided with the land trust and Janis, stating that restricting division of the property is consistent with current law.

This is a great example of land trusts and their allies working together and it is an important decision with national ramifications. Read more about the case here.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about divisions 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

Hannah Flake

Conservation Defense Associate

ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC

(202) 800-2248  |  help@terrafirma.org

 

Hungry for more TerraBites? Check out our LinkedIn

 

John Hancock is your friend

It’s tempting to skip the formality of a signature when you know you have an agreement. But land trusts that allow other organizations on their property without getting complete paperwork could be putting themselves in jeopardy.

In Selective Insurance Co. v. Boy Scouts of America, a judge decided that, because the school failed to sign a confirmation letter allowing it to use the Boy Scout campground, the insurance company didn’t have to pay for injuries suffered by a student during an event held at the site—potentially leaving the Boy Scouts on the hook. The school’s insurance policy had extended coverage for contractors but without a signed contract, the judge ruled that the extended coverage didn’t apply. If you’re planning on working with a contractor or letting another organization use your property, make sure the person you’re arranging things with puts their John Hancock on the line so you can get all the benefits of a bona fide contractor.

 

File any 2017 policy year claims by Monday, April 30

TerraBite Ideas to chew on for Terrafirma owner-member land trusts 

Dear Hannah,

Phew – taxes are out of the way. On to the next important deadline!

The grace period for Terrafirma claims for the 2017 policy year period ends April 30 at midnight local time. Please remember to file any lingering claims from incidents that you first learned of between March 1, 2017 and March 1, 2018 by that day! Check out our handy infographic for more tips on when to file.

To file a claim for 2017, log into your account at www.terrafirma.org and click on “Submit a Claim” on the menu on the left side of your screen. You will see a dropdown menu that allows you to pick 2017 or 2018 for the policy year.

Lastly, don’t forget to download and review your new 2018 policy! This is also available on your land trust’s account at www.terrafirma.org – there should now be a green button that says “Download Policy” at the top of your home page.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about when to file a claim, 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

Hannah Flake

Conservation Defense Associate

ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC

(202) 800-2248  |  help@terrafirma.org

Hungry for more TerraBites? Check out our LinkedIn.

 

Filing claims is easy as pie!

Happy 3/14 – otherwise known as Pi Day! On this day we celebrate math and delicious pie.

Speaking of, filing a claim with Terrafirma is easy as pie! You can still file under the 2017 policy year by heading to the Terrafirma website and clicking on your 2017 Application on the Welcome screen, then “submit a claim” from the menu on the left. You have until April 30 to file for any issues discovered in the 2017 policy year.

 

Timing is crucial. In order for a claim to be eligible for coverage, it must be filed with Terrafirma within the policy year that you or anyone else at the land trust first became aware of the issue. The policy year is not the same as the calendar year – it runs from March 1 of the start of the policy year to March 1 of the next year, plus a 60 day window for filing claims. Filing a claim is quick, easy, and does not affect the cost of your premium. Check out our handy infographic for more tips on when to file.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about when to file a claim, 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

Hannah Flake
Conservation Defense Coordinator
(202) 800-2248  |  help@terrafirma.org
Connect with us on LinkedIn

 
March 22, 2018 | Tags:

What happens to your check when it goes to Terrafirma?

Internal financial controls are crucial not just to comply with laws and regulations, but to protect your land trust from fraud and embezzlement, which has become shockingly common at nonprofits. That’s why, when you send in your payment to Terrafirma, it takes a while for the payment to post to your account. The finance gurus at Terrafirma are taking a number of precautionary steps when processing Terrafirma payments each year, including:

 

  1. Keeping a log of all checks that come in
  2. Having a second person sign the log to confirm that she saw all the checks
  3. Stamping all checks with “For deposit only” before they leave the office
  4. Writing up a deposit slip to prove the total before taking the checks to the bank
  5. Keeping a scanned copy of the deposit slip and all checks being deposited
  6. Segregating check handling duties among 4 different people with substantial oversight
  7. Crediting your payment only after all internal controls have been satisfied

 

Does your land trust have sufficient controls in place? Find an internal control evaluation checklist here to help you evaluate your system and protect your land trust.

 

Hannah Flake

Conservation Defense Coordinator

ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC

(202) 800-2248  |  help@terrafirma.org

 
February 15, 2018 | Tags:

New Login Notice

We have updated our database to increase security and make communications more reliable.

You only need one password now! Your Land Trust Alliance password for accessing The Learning Center or signing up for Rally works for Terrafirma as well.

If you enter your e-mail address for an existing Terrafirma account, it will e-mail you your password, and if you do not yet have a Terrafirma login, it will prompt you to create one at: https://terrafirma.org/site/get_started

If you cannot log in, please contact us at help@terrafirma.org and we’ll help you get set up.

You might need approval from site administrators for security purposes – so please don’t wait until the last minute!

Once you are in your account, please remember to notify Terrafirma about any potential issues that were discovered during the 2017 policy period which remain unresolved.

 

Thanks!
Hannah

Hannah Flake
Conservation Defense Coordinator 
(202) 800-2248  |  help@terrafirma.org
 

P.S. Wondering what you can do for the Risk Management Discount?

  • The next webinar will be on January 23 – see the full list here
 

Our quick and easy online course can be taken at any time 

 
January 15, 2018 | Tags:

Sign Up for TerraBites

Collectively upholding conservation permanence

Tags

Archives