A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Lower fire insurance rates? Maybe

Written May 6th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Station 11, the fire department’s headquarters, on Monday afternoon.

If you live in the area covered by the Albany Fire Department, you might want to ask your insurance company about lowering your fire insurance premiums. Why? Because the Insurance Services Office has just upgraded the department’s “public protection classification” to a 2, up from a 3.

The upgrade took effect May 1. Fire Chief  John Bradner gave the city council a report about it Monday. You can read the details in his two-page memo included with the council packet and available online here.

The Insurance Services Office rates fire departments on a scale of 10 to 1 every five to ten years, with 1 being the best. Albany had been a 3 since being upgraded from a 4 in the 1970s.  In the latest evaluation, the Albany department gained points in emergency communications but mainly in the rating of the department itself, based on available engines, staffing, training, and its fire prevention program.

According to Bradner, many insurance companies use the ISO grade in setting rates, and an improved grade often results in lower rates. He said all properties within 5 miles of an Albany fire station — there now are five of them — are covered by the improved fire protection grade.

It’s impossible to say how much, or even whether, the change causes a drop in fire insurance premiums. Presumably there are factors other than the fire department’s ability to respond. If you’re interested, the best thing is to call your insurance agent and see if the new and improved rating has any effect on what you are charged. (hh)

2 responses to “Lower fire insurance rates? Maybe”

  1. Richard Smith says:

    From having worked for both ISO, and then overseeing Underwriting and Loss Control operations for a major insurance company, please temper your optimism…almost all companies set rates within rate bands, not specific protection classes. Most companies, for residential properties, either use a rate band of classes 1-3, or 1-4. In other words, while this change is nice, it most likely will not lower premiums. There just isn’t enough difference between a level 2 and 3. Plus the rating could go back up due staffing layoffs… Commercial risks would be more likely to see a rate change, albeit that one is doubtful, too. Please don’t shoot the messenger…just trying to clarify.

  2. J. Jacobson says:

    If there is any business more opaque than the already 100% Opaque medical business, it is the Insurance industry. You could ask if you’re gonna get a break on your rates due to Albany Fire Diligence, but the answer you’ll get, if any, will be unintelligible, uninformative and unhelpful.


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