Be Prepared for Changes to Constructed Conditions

Buildings, roads and fences are not camera shy. Yet many baselines don’t include pictures or descriptions of constructed conditions on the property – such as houses, barns, riding rings, garages, amenities, driveways, fences, walls, docks and service buildings.

Changes to constructed conditions may change the intensity of use, the kind of use, the location or the impact of reserved rights on the conservation values. When a landowner starts making changes to structures on the property, you want to have a record of what the property looked like before. Baseline documentation establishes the original conditions of the property. So you want to include documentation of constructed conditions as well as natural conditions. If your land trust has to go to court, this could make all the difference in the world. And it will help with successor owners who may claim that this structure was there all the time. What a relief to have that attested baseline showing what was really there!

Remember that the 2014 policy reenrollment starts December 1, 2013 and ends February 3, 2014. Terrafirma currently has six claims in process from member land trusts. Please don’t let your coverage lapse.

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

 

Avoid Confusion with Clear and Complete Approval Letters

Remember that any approval letter or form that you write for a landowner creates an important permanent record.

If the landowner later disputes it or acts contrary to it, attorneys on both sides of the dispute will be carefully scrutinizing every word of your letter or form for ambiguities and nuanced interpretations that could help them. So you want it to be both friendly and firm for the landowner, while clearly and completely documenting all conditions of the approval.

Be sure to attach all relevant maps, photos, diagrams or other depictions of limitations and conditions to avoid any confusion later on. If you requested maps, proposals, or other documentation to approve the landowner action, then attach those documents and incorporate them into the approval!

 

Budgeting for 2014 Coverage

For many land trusts, budget season is here for 2014, so you may want to start planning for next year’s Terrafirma premium payment. Next year’s payment will be due no later than February 3, 2014. Since your registration fee is already paid, your next payment will only be for the annual premium. To refresh your memory, the base premium before any discounts is $60 per property. Accredited land trusts automatically receive an $11 discount. Discounts are also available for land trusts that meet certain good practices. Check the Terms and Conditions for more details or call or write to me.  

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about premiums or anything else, please let us know. You can reply to this email, email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri or 802-262-6051 for Leslie (please note, Leslie is on vacation and will be back in the office on August 5).

 

Savvy Risk-Taking and Prevention

Saving land exposes your land trust to risk, but not all risk is bad. You can advance your mission while taking smart risks.

Please join us for a half-day seminar, Savvy Risk Taking and Prevention, at Rally in New Orleans from September 17-19 to help you plan your way through the unknown. Participants will discuss risk management with a member of the Trout Unlimited risk management committee and with senior leadership from the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. You'll also receive a full copy of the Land Trust Alliance’s new Risk Management Curriculum book.

The cost for the seminar is $90 for land trust members and $105 for all others. This course qualifies for the Terrafirma risk management discount for 2014. Please note that you must renew risk management credits every year to qualify for the discount.

Be sure to register for the seminar and for Rally before August 26 when registration closes. I hope to see you there. Register today »

Can’t make it to Rally this year? Terrafirma will host two, free one-hour risk management webinars in November (webinar also satisfies risk management credit). Registration will open in the fall.

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

 

Notify Us of Possible Violations or Trespass

Spring is here and monitoring is underway. While monitoring, you may find possible violations or trespass on your insured property. Remember to notify Terrafirma immediately when you first discover any problem that might become a claim under your Terrafirma policy (and tell your other insurers too just in case). We will help you sort out the details and are always available to assist you. If you want to have a preliminary chat first, feel free to call or write us by email. Here’s how to notify Terrafirma:

  1. Log on to your account.
  2. Update contact information, if necessary. If you want to add another contact to your account, you can add the contact by clicking on the option to update contact information on the left side of the screen.
  3. Click on the option to notify of a possible claim in the menu. Enter in all of the available information on the claim, including a description of the claim, the damages, the name and contact info of the party involved, etc.
  4. If the information requested on the form is not available (i.e. there is no additional insurance coverage or the other party does not currently have an attorney), enter “n/a.”
  5. Terrafirma staff get an automatic copy as do all contacts listed on your account.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about submitting 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 or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

 

Download a Copy of Your 2013 Application

Big changes have come to the Terrafirma website. You can now download a PDF of all of the information you entered on your application. Downloading a copy is easy:

  1. Log in to your account at Terrafirma.org.
  2. Click on the option to Download 2013 Application in the menu on the left side of the screen.
  3. A PDF copy of your application will download automatically.

See anything missing or incorrect? Let us know. We’re here to help. You can reply to this email, email us directly, or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

 

Tips for Entering Insurance Premiums on Form 990

Form 990 season is here, and it’s likely that someone at your land trust may be wondering where to enter the Terrafirma payment and other insurance premium. We’re here to help! Here are a few tips:

  • Please consult your land trust accountant or tax professional.   We can’t give you tax or other advice.
  • A general reading of the instructions shows that insurance premiums are entered on the main form Part IX, line 23.
  • And lastly, for Schedule D, a general observation of those instructions suggests that the IRS is looking only for specific enforcement actions after you discover a violation by a property owner.  Following that definition would mean not listing any insurance premium payments on Schedule D except possibly in a year of an actual claim meeting the IRS enforcement definition. 
  • Here is the IRS definition of enforcement for purposes of Schedule D:  “Enforcement of an easement means action taken by the organization after it discovers a violation to compel a property owner to adhere to the terms of the conservation easement.”

Remember: consult your land trust’s financial, tax or legal advisor on this new issue.

Let us know how we can help you.

 

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