By Linda Dillman
Many factors influence home insurance rates, from the number of claims to the distance to a fire hydrant or water source, and even the rating of the nearest fire department on a scale of one to 10.
Department ratings are conducted in five-year cycles, with most insurers—including the largest ones—relying upon the Insurance Services Office’s (an independent corporation) Public Protection Classification program information as part of their decision-making process.
“Each insurance company independently determines the premiums it charges its policyholders,” said Madison Township Fire Chief Derek Robinson. “The way an insurer uses ISO’s information on public fire protection may depend on several things such as the company’s fire-loss experience, rate making methodology, underwriting guidelines and marketing strategy.”
Madison Township is currently rated a “3” on the scoring scale, with a “1” the best rating and a “10” the lowest a department can earn. The township rating for 2020 will be officially designated this year and not again until 2025.
“The most recent classification—3/3X—was conducted in late 2014 and officially designated in early 2015,” reported Robinson. “It was determined by the scoring system set forth by ISO.”
According to Robinson, evaluators look at various types of data such as, but not
limited to, the number of personnel on duty that can respond to an incident, the capabilities and equipment carried on fire apparatus, response times to incidents, geographical location of township stations, training records, dispatching center and water department capabilities.
“The hope is that the Madison Township Fire Department obtains a rating of a 2 during this evaluation,” said Robinson. “By doing so, our residents and business owners could potentially see a reduction in their property insurance costs. Even with an improvement to a classification of 2, there is no guarantee that everyone would see a reduction in their insurance. Each insurance company is different and premiums are based on their standards and the history of the insuree.”