A short newsletter of bite-size ideas to chew on for Terrafirma owner-member land trusts, released January, February, May, June, September, October and November.
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.
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:
- 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?
- Ignoring violations of easements or trespass could confer impermissible private benefit which could result in the land trust losing its tax-exempt status.
- 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.
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.
When you need an expert report for a lawsuit, you may be better off getting your outside attorney to request it for you. Because lawyers don’t have to reveal their notes and correspondence in court where the land trust is seeking their legal advice, your lawyer’s discussions with the expert (and, depending on your state’s rules, even the report itself) can be protected from the other side. Being able to keep your disagreements with your experts confidential can really help your case. For more information, check out this practical pointer on attorney-client privilege.
We’re here to help! If you have any questions about attorney-client privilege 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.
One of the easiest ways to find out about potential title issues is to just ask. When you are monitoring, ask the landowner if they plan on giving a deed to anybody for any reason. Even well-intentioned landowners may create issues by giving rights to children or spouses that conflict with the easement restrictions. Asking if the landowner plans on adjusting the land boundaries can help resolve title issues before any great harm arises.
We’re here to help! If you have any questions about questions for monitors 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.
When your land trust accepts an easement, it obtains a real estate interest in the easement under most state enabling acts. If you have a boundary disagreement with a neighbor to either fee land or easement land, you have the right to get a boundary survey. If you delay boundary surveys, it may be too late to address serious continuous encroachments as trespassers may gain rights over time. So get a boundary survey promptly to ensure that you identify potential legal disputes in the early stages when crafting a solution is relatively simple.
We’re here to help! If you have any questions about boundary surveys 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.
Public access to conservation land is not fun when people get hurt. If you plan to invite the public on your land this summer, be sure to consider risk management strategies to make the most of the event. You can avoid many safety issues by taking simple precautions when organizing recreational events.
- Water safety- When organizing any events in or near water, be sure to provide adequate supervision and tell participants not to drink untreated water or get it in their mouths.
- Food safety- When organizing events where you’ll be providing food, make sure those serving food take precautions to prevent food-borne illnesses.
- Animal safety- Be sure to inform participants of any animals that may be dangerous and teach them ways to avoid them.
- Plant safety- Be sure to inform participants of any plants that may cause allergic reactions and help them avoid these plants.
- Bug bites- Bug bites can spread disease and allergic reactions. Make sure participants are aware of the risks and take any necessary precautions.
- Emergency communications- Arrange for a way to communicate with emergency services if the need arises. Cell phones, satellite phones, and personal locator beacons are all possibilities to consider depending on your event. Or have the volunteer EMT or ambulance on standby if you are at an especially remote rugged location or holding a strenuous event.
- Tour safety – Have at least two trained tour leaders if you have an organized group event; have more safety committee members at larger events to prevent tragedies and lesser accidents.
We’re here to help! If you have any questions about risk management at special events 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.
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.
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.
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!