ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — One of the factors that determines your home’s insurance rate is fire risk and your closest fire department helps decide how much you have to pay.
How much of a risk though, is determined with the help of one organization’s rating system.
“The Insurance Services Office is an organization that helps collect data on fire departments across the country and that data then is used to predict fire loss,” Altoona Fire Department Fire Chief Tim Hileman said.
The data is collected and evaluated into an ISO score. It’s given to insurance companies to determine homeowners’ insurance rates. The ISO score ranges from a 1, the best, to a 10, the worst.
“Not only when ISO comes in do they look at the municipality and the water systems and things of that nature, but they also look at the fire department, their level of training, which is a big aspect of ISO, equipment and things of that nature,” said Jim McCann, who is the Chairman of the Cambria County Regional Firefighters Association Training Committee.
The Altoona Fire Department currently is rated as a two on the scale. Hileman said many departments focus on getting a lower number.
“As with anything, when there’s ratings and evaluations involved you can compare yourself to other departments in the area and things like that,” Hileman said. “So it’s a matter of pride for communities and fire companies who want to get as high of a score as they can.”
A lower number means lower insurance rates.
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“If the base rate’s $1,000 and then the company says, okay, well we feel with the protection devices in place, you know we have a central fire burglar alarm, we have smoke detector credit, we have fire extinguisher credit, we can now deviate from that rate and maybe get it down to $800,” said Gingrich Insurance Agency owner, Mark Gingrich.
Hileman said it’s an important factor that needs to be considered by homeowners and fire companies.
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“The more loss, the higher your rates are gonna be,” Hileman said. “So, if we can do our part to make our community safer and lower that risk, not only are properties and lives going to be saved but the folks in that community are also gonna be able to save some money in their pocket from higher insurance rates.”