Terrafirma payments are now online!

You can now use Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers to pay your Terrafirma premium. The ACH is a secure network that is all digital. Terrafirma is all online: invoices, notices, applications, policies and payments. Starting with the 2020 application period – opening on Dec. 1, 2019 and closing on Feb. 3, 2020 – ACH transfers will be the preferred method of payment.

Terrafirma’s land trust members have increased to the point that payment processing is significantly more expensive. ACH transfers are better not just for the planet, but for keeping your premium payments lower. ACH transfers are also less risky than sending paper checks through the mail, with fewer opportunities for human error and oversight. Additionally, this new system will offer easier payment tracking!

Please note that an ACH transfer is not the same as a wire transfer. Terrafirma does not accept wire transfers. While ACH is free, wire transfers incur a fee both for Terrafirma and for the land trust. Terrafirma charges a $30 processing fee for any wire transfers received.

Terrafirma cannot accept credit cards, due to the expense of both processing and administration, as well as the price of having the appropriate controls in place to address the high security risk. These costs would be passed on to you, the policyholders.

You may be able to set up ACH transfers online with your bank by creating a transfer to an external account using Terrafirma’s account information. Alternatively, you can take this information to your bank manager to set up an ACH account to pay the premium annually.

We’re excited to bring you this new payment method. Have questions about ACH transfers? Visit our FAQ page or please let us know. You can e-mail us directly or call 202-800-2248.

 
 

Clear Thinking Replaces Confusion

You may be under the impression that you have to “think like a lawyer” when confronting legal challenges. But according to Michael Dorf, Professor of Law at Cornell University, there is no such thing – only “clear thinking and confusion.” That said, lawyers do have training to recognize three general types of legal questions:
 
Easy questions: These have straightforward, simple answers that you can look up in a book or on a website.
Complicated questions: These may have determinate answers, but to arrive at them one must first navigate considerable complexity, possibly from various sources of law.
Indeterminate questions: These questions – whether abstract or applied to a specific situation – have no one right answer, but a range of possibilities.
 
There is overlap between the categories, with some issues being partially indeterminate, and your question may not have a right answer. That does not mean, however, that there are no clearly wrong answers – because there are some very wrong answers. You can find a range of possibilities within legal materials, but correct answers must be within that range.
 
Adapted from Michael Dorf’s article, “Distinguishing Among Easy, Complicated, and Indeterminate Legal Questions”
 
 
September 23, 2019 | Tags:

All Together Now

Last month we wrote about common problem areas relating to division, and how no-division clauses can help. Here is why avoiding division is crucial not just for the easement’s habitat, scenic values and wildlife, but for your organization:

  • More owners means more chance of management related conflicts.
  • Property divisions within a conservation easement increase costs and burdens of extra monitoring and enforcement, including more paperwork. 
  • Subdivisions increase the number of landowners the land trust is responsible for maintaining relationships with; if a land trust is not able to devote enough resources towards landowner relationships and communications, violation risk increases.
  • Studies show that more landowners means more risk of violations generally. This is why Terrafirma will always count parcels with different owners separately.

Have questions about easement division violations or anything else? Please let us know. You can e-mail us directly or call 202-800-2248.

Thanks,
Hannah

Conservation Defense Coordinator
ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC
(202) 800-2248  |  help@terrafirma.org

 
 

Don't Crack Up

There’s nothing funny about easement division violations. No-division clauses prevent a number of issues including land fragmentation, enforcement complications, damage to the easement’s habitat and scenic values, and barriers to wildlife movement. Proactive monitoring can keep your easements from cracking apart.

Here are some common division problem areas to look out for:

  • Partition of tenancy in common
  • Foreclosure of a mortgage encumbering a part of the easement property
  • Tax foreclosure of part of the easement property comprised of multiple tax parcels
  • Bankruptcy rejection of an executory contract
  • Landowners adjusting the boundaries in violation of the easement

 Have questions? Please let us know. You can e-mail us directly or call 202-800-2248.

Thanks,
Hannah

 
 

Join the club! Submit a claim.

Each year Terrafirma sees an increase in claims. If you have already submitted one, you’re in good company – 281 other land trusts have too, or over half of Terrafirma members.

Accredited land trusts are the most likely to submit a claim. You don’t have to be accredited to be in Terrafirma, but 68% of members are.

Terrafirma received 204 claims for the 2018 policy year, up from 182 in the 2017 policy year. The 2018 grace period for submitting claims ended on April 30. Not sure when to file, or if you need to? You can see our handy primer here, and reach out with questions at any time.

Terrafirma members are doing their job by diligently monitoring issues and submitting them to Terrafirma in the claims year that they were first discovered. Thank you all for submitting your claims, and keep up the good work!

We’re here to help! If you have any questions, please let us know. You can e-mail us directly or call 202-800-2248 for Hannah or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

 

Thank you,

Hannah

 
 

Hold Your Place in Line by April 30

When you file a claim at www.terrafirma.org, you’ll see two options – one for a “placeholder” claim, and one that just says claim. Do you know the difference? You’ll want to know by 4/30, which is the deadline to file claims under your 2018 Terrafirma policy.

While both a claim and a placeholder claim satisfy the requirement to give notice to Terrafirma, a placeholder claim is not automatically evaluated and brought before the Terrafirma Claims Committee. 

When you file a placeholder claim, you’ll receive an e-mail every quarter asking for an update status on the claim. When you want to close the claim or have it seen by the committee, all you have to do is send an e-mail. There’s no need to switch status from placeholder claim to normal claim, or to re-file.

Don't wait until you have to hire a lawyer to file a claim. File a placeholder claim right away to make sure that if you need to switch the status to a normal claim, you can. Remember, if you don’t file 2018 policy year claims by 4/30, you will not be able to file them later.

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 202-800-2248 for Hannah or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

 

Thank you,

Hannah

Conservation Defense Coordinator
ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC
(202) 800-2248  |  help@terrafirma.org

 

P.S. The grace period for Terrafirma claims for the 2018 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, 2018 and March 1, 2019 by that day! Check out our handy infographic for more tips on when to file.

 

Let's Talk It Out

I’m sure you have heard that communication is the key to success. When it comes to resolving a Terrafirma claim, four groups must communicate well with each other: the member land trust, its attorney, the Claims Committee, and support staff for the Claims Committee.

Everyone wants an efficient and effective resolution. This starts with an early exchange to identify top issues and outline the options available to resolve the claim and uphold conservation permanence. As the claim progresses, frequent communication between all parties is crucial so that any problems or different points of view can be discussed right away. For especially tricky issues, the Claims Committee steps in to offer guidance.

The simple takeaway? Stay in touch!

Speaking of reaching out, have any questions? Please let us know. You can email us directly or call 802-262-6051 for Leslie, or 202-800-2248 for myself.

 

Thanks,

Hannah

Hannah Flake
Conservation Defense Coordinator
ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC
(202) 800-2248  |  help@terrafirma.org

 
 
March 04, 2019 | Tags:

13 is the Luckiest Number

The number 13 is supercool. It's the smallest "emirp" – a prime number that forms a different prime in reverse. And who doesn't love a "baker's dozen" of 13 delicious baked goods? It's also the number of eligibility questions that Terrafirma asks.

The 13 eligibility requirements must be fulfilled before your organization can join Terrafirma. If you are already a Terrafirma member and you are updating your application, you may be used to checking off "yes" to all of these without reading through.

This year, remember to revisit those eligibility requirements and make sure that you still satisfy all of them.

Please also remember:

  • If you are awaiting your February accreditation decision, whether first time or renewing, don't hit that submit button just yet! Please fill out your application and then hit "submit" once your decision is received. There is an $11/parcel accreditation discount that we don't want you to miss.
  • Please send your check to Marsh's new address:

                 Jeremy Johnston, Account Administrator 
                 Marsh Captive Solutions 
                 Terrafirma RRG LLC
                 PO Box 530
                 Burlington, VT 05402-0530

 

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

 

Thanks,

Hannah

 

Hannah Flake

Conservation Defense Coordinator

ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC

 

(202) 800-2248 | help@terrafirma.org

 

Counting down to 2019

In just four short days it will be the new year, and with it comes a new policy period for Terrafirma insurance. Through February 1, 2019, you can log on and update your application for the 2019 policy period that begins on March 1, 2019. Land trusts in the accreditation pipeline who are waiting for their decision in February will receive an extension.

Before you update, we recommend that you take a few minutes to review the counting rules for your properties, including:

  • Separate easements held by the same land trust can be counted as just one property for Terrafirma as long as they have the same owner, same restrictions and permitted uses, and are contiguous.
  • Different parcels under the same easement can count as one property, even if it’s not contiguous, as long as they have the same landowner and the same land trust.
  • If you want to insure property within a certain category of property right (conservation easement, trail easement, fee land, etc.), you must list every parcel within that category.

See last month’s Terrabite here (set link https://terrafirma.org/blog) for more counting tips.

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 Coordinator

ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC

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

 
 
January 03, 2019 | Tags:

Got a lot on your plate?

As you prepare for the holidays next week, buying your turkey (or Tofurky) and pie, remember what else is coming up: the Terrafirma application period that is just around the corner. Starting December 1, you will be able to log on and update your application for the 2019 policy period that begins on March 1, 2019.

Before you update, we recommend that you take a few minutes to review the counting rules for your properties, including: 

  • Parcels with different owners must be listed separately. This is because the more the easement is spread across separately owned parcels, the greater the risk that you’ll have a lawsuit. Therefore, Terrafirma spreads that risk with additional premiums based on the number of separate landowners. 
  • Following that rule, if a property listed as having one owner is then divided into multiple parts with multiple owners, each piece would become an individual parcel under your Terrafirma policy.
  • If you have any questions or think you have a special case, please reach out to Terrafirma and e-mail a map of the property to help@terrafirma.org

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 Coordinator
ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC
(202) 800-2248 | help@terrafirma.org

 

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