TOPEKA – Fire concerns have dominated thoughts of many Kansans during the past several weeks following the aftermath of historic fires in the state.
One concern that property owners may have is the possibility of future increases in insurance premiums for residential and commercial properties. However, procedures and guidelines exist to help insurance companies establish appropriate premiums for consumers. One of these is rating a community’s fire-protection services.
A national company called the Insurance Services Office (ISO) provides that information through a program called the Public Protection Classification (PPC). The ISO collects information on municipal fire-protection efforts in communities throughout Kansas and the United States. The ratings service has extensive information on more than 47,000 fire-response jurisdictions.
Most insurers of home and business properties in the United States use the ISO PPC as one factor in calculating premiums. In general, the price of property insurance in a community with a good program rating is lower than in a community with a poor rating.
The ISO, based on its information, assigns a classification from 1 to 10 for each jurisdiction. Class 1 generally represents superior property fire protection, and Class 10 designates the area’s fire-suppression program doesn’t meet ISO’s minimum criteria.
The classification ratings for each jurisdiction depend on the following:
• Emergency communications systems, including facilities for the public to report fires, staffing, training, certification of the telecommunicators, and facilities for dispatching fire departments.
• The jurisdiction’s fire department, including equipment, staffing, training, and geographic deployment of the fire companies.
• The water supply system, including the inspection and flow testing of hydrants, and a careful evaluation of the amount of available water compared with the amount needed to suppress fires.
• Community efforts to reduce the risk of fire, including fire prevention codes and enforcement, public fire safety education, and a fire investigation program.
The ISO program provides an objective, nationwide standard that helps fire departments in planning and budgeting for facilities, equipment and training. It can help secure lower fire insurance premiums for communities with better public protection.
One recent example of this is a news report from Oklahoma City that said the city’s IPO fire rating jumped from a 3 to a 1, which could result in an average homeowner insurance savings from $200 to $400 per year.
Kansas consumers can find out their property’s specific ISO rating by contacting the fire chief of their local fire district or their local homeowners insurance agent. They can get a snapshot review of premiums under ISO ratings by using the Kansas Insurance Department’s online “Homeowners/Renters Insurance Shopper’s Guide” feature, located on the department’s website at www.ksinsurance.org/autohome/home/hrins.php.
For more information call the Consumer Assistance Hotline, 800-432-2484, or go online to www.ksinsurance.org to use the chat feature.