What is a Claim?

A claim is a demand made by the insured (you) for payment of benefits as provided by the policy. A claim event is any potential problem even if trivial or uncertain. If you see it any possibility that it may be a problem, file a claim. 

Will filing a claim affect my premium?

No. It is the mission of Terrafirma to protect conservation values. Filing a claim means you are doing your job to ensure conservation values -- you will not be penalized for doing your job.  Your premium will not increase as a result of filing a claim, and it will not increase as a result of presenting your claim to the Terrafirma Claims Committee.

What is a Placeholder Claim?

While both a claim and a placeholder claim satisfy the requirement to give notice to Terrafirma, a placeholder claim is not automatically evaluated and brought before the Terrafirma Claims Committee.

How do I change my placeholder claim to a normal claim?

The process is simple and there’s no need to refile. Just notify us via e-mail and Terrafirma will take your claim off hold and make arrangements for it to be seen by the Claims Committee if necessary.

How do I submit a claim?

Members of Terrafirma can submit a claim by logging into their account, and clicking on the link to "Submit a Claim." This link will take you to the claims form. Fill out as much of the claims form as you can and click "Submit" when you are done. You can stop and save your form at any time. Your claim will not be submitted until you click on the Submit button.

How do I submit a placeholder claim?

The process for submitting a placeholder claim is the same as for filing a regular claim (see above). The difference is that you will select "Yes, file a placeholder claim" as your answer to the first question.

What kind of questions will be on the claim form?

See a blank example here.

Can I just deal with the problem now and send the bill to Terrafirma later?

No. Terrafirma is not a reimbursement policy. To have your expenses covered by Terrafirma, you will need to submit a claim as soon as you discover the first indication of the issue and then also receive an acceptance of coverage determination.

What if it takes several years for my claim to be resolved?

A claim may stretch over more than one year but it is covered under the policy in the year of first occurrence. Details on these points are explicit in the insurance policy.

How do I know when to file a claim?

Please see our short document meant to serve as a general guideline: Indicators of When to File a Claim

How much is the deductible?

There is a $5,000 deductible for each claim submitted (the Policy uses the term "self-insured retention," which means the same thing as "deductible").

Is there a copayment or coinsurance?

No. There is no copayment for covered claims as long as the land trust maintains continuous coverage.

Why is the deductible so low and why isn't there coinsurance?

A high deductible and premium or coinsurance — which requires the land trust to pay a percentage of its legal costs — likely would not have a positive effect on costs or on land trust practices or choices. In practice, unless the coinsurance percentage is high (incurring a painful level of uninsured cost to the insured), it does not significantly affect the insured’s attitude toward defense. Requiring coinsurance or a very high deductible could be a financial burden on smaller insureds; it could make it more difficult to gain their cooperation in a vigorous defense, and it could be counterproductive. Insurance, while helpful in protecting the insured, will not cover all costs. Even with a low deductible there are costs such as staff time and mitigation steps. 

Who decides what legal counsel to use through Terrafirma?

The Claims Committee is responsible for the  assignment of outside counsel, in consultation with the member insured land trust. The Claims Committee may choose any qualified counsel to represent the member land trust provided that counsel agrees with the fee schedule and is qualified to handle the claim. Land trusts insured with Terrafirma usually have a relationship with an outside trial attorney and Terrafirma prefers to retain attorneys that the land trusts know and respect, and who understand the local culture. Terrafirma's first choice therefore is the outside counsel preferred by the member, if qualified to handle the claim and agreeable to the fee and work guidelines. The Claims Committee may authorize the engagement of adjusters, third-party investigators, attorneys or other professionals as necessary. We want to be sure that land trusts have the best possible representation needed, balanced with consideration for local issues and a preference for experienced local counsel. If a land trust does not have a trusted trial attorney, then Terrafirma is likely to play a much larger role in attorney selection than it would for a land trust with a long-established relationship with a highly qualified litigator who is able to work at a discounted rate. Ultimately the decision rests with Terrafirma, but since the land trusts are also the owners and operators of Terrafirma the result is fair and appropriate decisions about legal counsel.

What does the Claims Committee do and who is on it?

The Claims Committee is composed of seven attorneys  appointed by the Members Committee who are experienced in conservation and insurance. Members have experience with legal challenges. They know what it means to operate a land trust and protect hard-won conservation interests. They are responsible for ensuring that Terrafirma is well managed and that costs are appropriately contained. The Claims Committee is responsible for evaluating, monitoring, approving and managing all member claims and legal strategy for Terrafirma. Alliance Risk Management Services LLC (ARMS) provides staff for the Claims Committee, and any subcommittees. ARMS staff are the Conservation Defense Director for the Land Trust Alliance and the Conservation Defense Coordinator. As an aggregate, Claims Committee members have the following areas of experience:

  1. Practical experience with land trusts and legal challenges to conservation
  2. Understanding of state and local laws relating to conservation easements, real estate, and insurance
  3. Insurance experience
    • Insurance litigation
    • Experience sitting on a claims committee and evaluating claims
    • Insurance coverage
    • Experience setting reserves for claims loss
    • Customer service (sales, policies or underwriting)
  4. Court room and legal strategy
  5. Real estate litigation
  6. Attorney management and cost contro

Who is in the Claims Committee?

Read the Claims Committee member biographies






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