2013 Year in Review

We’re proud of the successes of Terrafirma members, who together insured 6,764,772 acres this year. Terrafirma has handled 43 conservation defense liability insurance claims so far. All operations are within expectations. To learn more, read the 2013 annual report and 2013 audited financials and Form 990 available on the Terrafirma website financials page.  

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about Terrafirma’s annual report, financial reports 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.

 

Let people know you have Terrafirma

Participating in Terrafirma shows your land trust’s commitment to long-term defense of the land it owns or helped conserve. It shows that you understand how pooling resources with hundreds of other conservation organizations to share risk and resources helps everyone uphold conservation permanently. Let your landowners know that your land trust is a member owner of Terrafirma and how that helps to preserve their conservation vision. Here’s a sample letter to show you one way that another land trust shared the good news.  

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 or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

 

Download Your 2014 Terrafirma Policy

You can download your land trust’s 2014 Terrafirma policy now by logging into your account here on the Terrafirma website. To download a PDF copy of your policy, simply log in to the website and click on the large green button giving you the option to “Download Policy”. 

Thank you for your patience as Terrafirma worked through underwriting and billing issues on the 2014 applications. Your 2014 Terrafirma coverage is effective as of midnight March 1, 2014.

If you have any questions or experience any difficulties, please email us directly or call Lorri at 202-800-2219. We are here to help!

 

Find Challenges Challenging to Define?

Make plans now to track challenges that you may need to report on your Terrafirma membership confirmation next year. Remember, you do not need to report challenges if there is no damage to the property, nominal volunteer or staff time was needed to address the challenge, and you incurred no out of pocket expenses. To help you keep track of the different types of challenges, please see the definitions below.

 

Challenge

Definition

Violation

includes prohibited structures and uses, excessive recreational activity (such as all-terrain vehicles), surface alteration, timber harvest, and dumping, violation of a management plan and anything else that explicitly violates the stated terms of a conservation easement

Trespass

includes actions by third parties (neighbors, developers, government and so forth) such as vegetation removal, structural encroachment, fences, topography change and so forth.

Litigation Notice

when you receive written notice that a lawsuit has been filed against the land trust

Verbal or Other Threat of Violation or Trespass

includes threats to violate the conservation easement or trespass on fee land or conservation easement

Disregard of Easement Obligation

this is a catch all section for when a legal challenge does not fit into any other category for example transfer of water rights on paper to a holding company that technically disregards the no severance provision of the conservation easement but functionally retains the water rights in the same ownership

Mediation or Arbitration Notice

when you receive written notice of mediation or arbitration action

Adverse Claim of Legal Right

including adverse possession, contest by heir, boundary challenge, etc.

 

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about filing claims or anything else, please let us know. Email us at help@terrafirma.org or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

 

Report Violations or Trepass on Insured Property

Have you seen any violations or trespass on your insured property this year? Remember to notify Terrafirma immediately when you first discover any problem that might become a claim under your Terrafirma 2013 policy (and tell your other insurers too just in case). Timing counts, so if you have something now file a claim by March 1, 2014. 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 filing claims 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.

 

Plan Ahead to Manage Risk

What do a healthy risk management program and an informed and involved board have in common? They are both integral to the success of risk management because they determine the direction of the organization. If your board and senior leadership work together to plan for contingencies ahead of time – when heads are cool and time is on your side – you can avoid crises that could put you out of business.  

Board members can also log on FREE to the Nonprofit Risk Management Center as affiliates of the Land Trust Alliance. See directions »

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about updating your policy, 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.

 

Re-enroll for 2014 Coverage

Your current Terrafirma coverage ends March 1, 2014. Please re-enroll on the Terrafirma website by updating your current policy information stored on the website.

The re-enrollment period begins December 1, 2013 and ends February 3, 2014.

It is easy as 1-2-3! 

  1. Add any new parcels and remove any assigned parcels
  2. Re-confirm your eligibility
  3. Click the “submit” button and mail your check

Once you re-enroll, the 2014 coverage period continues uninterrupted from the original policy date. Remember that everything is online; Terrafirma does not send paper invoices, notices or applications.

We know times are still tough and money is always tight. 

If your board is thinking about not re-enrolling, here are a few things to consider:  

You will lose the registration payment you have already paid. If you decide to re-enroll later, you’ll have to pay a higher registration fee (currently between $375 and $4,000). View the registration fee schedule »

Your coverage will end on March 1, 2014 and – even if you re-enroll a year later – you will have a coverage gap as a new policy will only be effective as of the reenrollment date. That essentially means it will only cover claims based on problems that first come to light after that date.

You’ll have to pay a 50% co-payment for any claims during the first year after your coverage re-starts.

Your reserves will be at higher risk without the Terrafirma safety net. If you do not have at least adequate reserves now, then your organization may be financially insecure. Legal challenges have already bankrupted land trusts; you don’t have to be the next sad story. Read more »

Can you afford NOT to re-enroll?

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about updating your policy, 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.

 

Keep Current with Critical Dates & Deadlines

How do you make sure that if the person responsible for a deadline gets sick or goes on vacation, someone else will complete critical tasks? Rather than store deadlines and advance schedules to give preparation time in someone’s head (or a file that no one else has regular access too), plan ahead for all filing dates and the lead time to prepare. Keep it current with an electronic shared organizational calendar. A paper calendar stored electronically can work with extra diligence.

Find more suggestions on which dates to track, such as monitoring schedules, state filing deadlines, annual insurance policy review and more practical risk management suggestions »

See IRS dates that may apply to your organization »

Remember that the 2014 policy re-enrollment 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, 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.

 

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!

 

Sign Up for TerraBites

Collectively upholding conservation permanence

Tags

Archives