City could see difference in insurance rates with lower ISO rating

Published 4:45 pm Thursday, February 5, 2015

With recent news that the Jemison Fire Department was awarded a lower ISO rating, residents in the city could see a difference in insurance rates.

“I was ecstatic about the news,” Jemison Fire Chief John Dennis said.

ISO inspections rate the effectiveness of fire departments using a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the best possible score.

Jemison Fire Department received news Monday afternoon that the ISO rating moved from a 6.4 to a 4.

Dennis said the last time the score lowered for the fire department was in the mid-1990s.

“I was pretty sure we would move to a solid 5, but when I found out we have moved to a 4, it was wonderful news.”

ISO’s Public Protection Classification Program (PPC) plays an important role in the underwriting process at insurance companies.

Each insurance company independently determines the premiums it charges its policyholders. The way an insurer uses ISO’s information on public fire protection may depend on several things: the company’s fire-loss experience, ratemaking methodology, underwriting guidelines, and its marketing strategy.

Communities whose PPC improves may get lower insurance prices. PPC also provides fire departments with a valuable benchmark, and is used by many departments as a valuable tool when planning, budgeting and justifying fire protection improvements, according to a letter sent to the city regarding the ISO rating.

Dennis said multiple factors are taken into consideration when a fire department is evaluated such as the 911-dispatch system, water supply, and available personnel including qualifications and training.

Another factor helping in the decreased rating was the addition of the emergency transport system through the JFD that started in 2013.

The city now has an emergency transport system through JFD as the fire and emergency medical provider for all 911 calls.

With the addition of the transport service, Dennis said the money earned from the transport service allowed the fire department to employ on-duty personnel at the fire department to respond to the calls.

“Fire is what we are there for, but responding to fire calls is what we do very little of so having the medical transport system has allowed for us to pay people on duty,” Dennis said. “This allows us to respond to the residents of Jemison in a timely fashion, and it definitely helped with the ISO rating.”

Dennis said with the ISO rating, everyone living in Jemison should see a result.

“This will mean lower insurance rates,” Dennis said. “It would be up to the insurance companies to say how much, but residents should see a significant difference as a result of this score.”

Although Dennis did not know the exact scores of other fire departments throughout Chilton County, he said he thought Jemison’s recent rating of a 4 was comparable to other fire departments.

This is the lowest score the Jemison Fire Department has ever received.

“It was really good news, and we were thrilled,” Dennis said.