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.
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.
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
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.
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.