ISO Rates Fall on Some Lake Wateree Homes

It was good news and bad news from Fairfield County Fire Marshal Tony Hill Monday night at Fairfield County Council’s regular meeting, and the bad news wasn’t really all that bad, according to Hill.

First, the good news: The addition of the $65,000 substation to the Dutchman Creek Fire Department has brought 175 homes under its umbrella of coverage, allowing their home owner’s insurance premiums to drop significantly. With the new substation, Hill said, the ISO ratings for these homes has dropped from a 10 to a 6, saving homeowners more than $600 annually on premiums.

Everyone else in the coverage area of Dutchman Creek, however, will see their ISO ratings rise from a 5 to a 6, and that’s the not-so-bad news.

“When we extended the boundary lines from the substation out 5 miles, we took in a lot of area that did not have the water lines,” Hill told Council. “That stretched our water further down from where we had water, so we would have to shuttle water down there, instead of having hydrants. The part we took in only had two hydrants.”

In 2008, when the ISO ratings were evaluated, the fire department was received a rating of 5, but the water system received a rating of 6. That was fine for 2008, Hill said, because the ISO team allowed them to round that rating down to a 5. But, Hill added, it was a one-time deal. Any subsequent evaluation would result in a 6 if the water system had not been upgraded, and in 2012 it had not. Therefore, Hill said, the end result was a 6 ISO rating.

“Overall, it’s not bad,” Hill said. “If we had gone to a 7, I would have some concerns.”

ISO is a New York-based advisory organization that serves the property and casualty insurance industry by providing inspection services, insurance coverage form development and statistical services. ISO ratings reflect what a home owner can expect to pay an insurance company in annual premiums.

But a 6 is not such bad news, Hill said, adding that average home owners would see an increase of about $32, or 7 percent, in their insurance premiums for wood-frame homes. Owners of masonry homes would see an increase of only 6 percent.

Hill said the possibility of getting the ISO rating back down to 5 could be a reality in the next year.

“You’ve got to get 50 points to get back to a 5 and we’re at 43 now,” Hill said. “We’ve got to get 7 more points, and it could cost $5,000 or it could cost $100,000.”

ISO is in the process of changing their scheduling, which will be complete next summer. Hill said the ISO representatives advised him to wait until the new scheduling came out before working on those last 7 points.

“What do you think it would take to get (the water) from a 6 to a 5?” Council Chairman David Ferguson asked.

Hill said that would involve running water lines to where there weren’t a lot of water customers.

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