What is Terrafirma's overall philosophy on applications?

Terrafirma's overall philosophy is to provide the broadest possible coverage consistent with prudent business principles for the greatest number of private land trusts.The purpose is to defend and enforce conservation easements and to protect fee-owned land. In addition to conservation defense, we expect to also focus on increasing prevention, good practices and good precedents.  We believe that land trusts are dependent on each other for optimal defense and can present a formidable collective defense. To accomplish these goals, we want virtually all land trusts to participate in the insurance and risk prevention programs. For this reason, the application form and the process is as simple as possible, mindful of the burden on land trusts and minimizing the administrative costs for the program. We also do not want to confuse land trusts with comparisons to accreditation, which has a very high bar. Thus eligibility requirements identify only the highest risk organizations. 

What are the eligibility requirements?

See the full list of eligibility requirements.

How do I apply for Terrafirma coverage?

First time applicants will need to create an account on the Terrafirma website and start a new application. Returning applicants and members who are updating their information will need to login to their original account to update information.

  1. Log in to your account and start your application to confirm your continued eligibility
  2. Add any new parcels, remove any assigned parcels and add other updates
  3. Click the “submit” button and mail your check payable to Terrafirma and addressed to Marsh Management

See a sample application here.

When do I apply for Terrafirma coverage?

Terrafirma only accepts new applicants during the enrollment period from December 1 - February 1. After February 1, new applicants will need to wait until the next policy year to apply.

Why do I have to update my application every year?

Terrafirma members must update their applications to confirm continued eligibility and add recently acquired parcels. The regulators require this confirmation and account maintenance every policy year.

Do I have to insure all of my property rights?

Once you have chosen to insure a certain type of property, you must insure all that fall within that category.

The categories are as follows:

  • Conservation easements
  • Fee land
  • Trail easements
  • Access easements
  • Deed restrictions

You can insure any or all categories, or pick and choose. That choice belongs to you. But you cannot choose to insure, for example, some of your easements and fee lands but not others. Everything falling within the category must be insured. If Terrafirma allowed members to selectively insure only their most troublesome parcels, the risk pool would be too small to sustain coverage.

Are the risks to fee-owned land as great as for conservation easements?

A survey of land trusts found that fee-owned land has legal challenges that are less frequent but far more expensive than those of conservation easements. While the issues may be different, the survey found no significantly different risk of legal challenges between the two. Typically, general liability insurance or possibly directors and officers insurance may cover a land trust that is sued regarding its fee owned land but is unlikely to cover instances like trespass, where the land trust must sue to protect its land.

When I'm entering my properties, do I need to enter all of them by hand?

No. Terrafirma has an arrangement with a third party who will do the upload for you for a fee of $1 per parcel. Please contact us at help@terrafirma.org, and we will send the Excel template that they require. You then fill out the template and e-mail it to them, and they will add it to the website.

When I'm entering my properties, do I enter properties separately by tax ID?

No. Terrafirma insures by landowner, so if your easement on one landowner's property spreads across multiple tax IDs, you should enter it as one property.

When I'm entering my properties, do I enter properties separately by deed and easement or can I bundle together adjacent properties as one preserve?

Premiums are based on landowners, not deeds. Under circumstances for fee-owned preserves, and for multiple easements in one preserve all of which are contiguous, owned by the same landowner, conserved for the same purpose, and held by the same land trust, you may be able to count multiple properties as one preserve.

When I'm entering properties that have been subdivided, can I enter them together as one easement or do I need to enter them separately?

Once a landowner has exercised a subdivision right and sold the resulting property to another landowner, you must enter the new property separately. This is because premiums are based on landowners, not deeds. A new landowner presents a new risk.

Will I need to send copies of baselines and organizational documents to Terrafirma to complete my application?

No. Terrafirma does not underwrite individual easements or fee land. Terrafirma only evaluates organizations based on their affirmation of eligibility and their other statements on the application.  PLEASE NOTE: If review of a later claim reveals a substantial discrepancy in the eligibility answers that your land trust submitted that is material to the coverage (or to the adjudication of a claim), then Terrafirma has the discretion to deny coverage for that claim, rescind the policy, request corrective action, recalculate the premium or respond in another reasonable, appropriate and proportional way.

Can you tell me more about the counting rules so I know when to enter things separately and when to bundle them together as a preserve?

See special counting rules here for divided easements, preserves assembled from many deeds, and multiple easements owned by the same owner.

 

Can I insure additional parcels once my policy has already been submitted?

Yes. While you are not required to do so, we strongly recommend that any new parcels that you acquire be covered as soon as possible. Simply select “Insure Additional Parcels” on the menu bar on the left side of your screen and click on “Add Parcels.” As with any other parcel, the cost is $60 per year and is not prorated.

 

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