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

 

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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 05, 2015 | Tags:

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 27, 2015 | Tags:

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 21, 2014 | Tags:

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 30, 2014 | Tags:

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