Lower ISO rating helps city (Community Correspondent)

Published 9:30 am Thursday, March 12, 2015

Our local fire departments can prevent your home from burning down in most cases, but did you know that the department’s overall performance and quality of service can affect your home and business insurance rates? The premium charged for home and commercial dwelling insurance is affected by many variables including the size of your home, the location of your home, and seemingly insignificant, even the type of your employment. However, one of the most important factors considered is the ISO rating of the city where you live or own a business. The lower the score, the better your insurance rates will be.



ISO, or Insurance Services Organization, is an independent organization that provides information about risk to insurance companies and other agencies. The ISO collects information about fire protection efforts in communities across the nation. After thoroughly analyzing this information, a classification number from 1 to 10 is assigned. Class 1 indicates excellent fire protection while class 10 indicates that the community’s fire department is not equipped to meet minimum standards. Most all insurance companies use the ISO rating system in calculating premiums.

Since your homeowner’s insurance covers damage from fires, your insurance rates are heavily dependent on how likely your home is to burn completely to the ground prior to a response from the fire department. The time limit is calculated utilizing the distance to your closest responder and how quickly they can respond to your home. Additionally, expenses related to the fire extend beyond the home itself. Families are often displaced, which adds additional costs, and businesses lose income while rebuilding after a fire.

The City of Jemison now has a “4” ISO rating after many years of a “6/9”. Fire Chief John Dennis, Mayor Eddie Reed and the leaders of the city have worked diligently to improve the grading factors to obtain this rating. Areas graded include our city’s ability to respond quickly, the quality and quantity of equipment available, access to water systems, communication systems, and the experience and availability of qualified responders. This drop in score is a valuable tool to recruit businesses to the city as commercial assets can be better protected. Additionally, the lower ISO rating is favored when purchasing home insurance as insurers see that the assets they are insuring have a better chance of being protected with a rapid and equipped fire department.

Within the city limits of Jemison, residents within a 5-mile radius of the fire department and within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant will see their ISO score reflected in their rates immediately. Existing home and business policies will automatically see the ISC score change at renewal while new policies written will take advantage of this change when binding coverage. Per Mayor Eddie Reed, this is the lowest score our city has ever obtained.

It is a win/win for the city and insurers in our area.

–Chris Millard is a Community Correspondent for The Clanton Advertiser