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Friday, March 22, 2013
OKLAHOMA CITY – Homeowners’ insurance rates are on the rise, yet, some Oklahoma homeowners may see a significant savings on their premiums in the coming year. A targeted effort by the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID) to encourage the Insurance Services Office (ISO) to aggressively review communities’ Public Protection Classification (PPC) may lead to premium reductions for individual homeowners.
An updated ISO review of a fire department can lead to a lower PPC, which ranges from one to ten. This rating is one of several possible factors that insurance carriers use to determine homeowners’ policy premiums. Over 700 of Oklahoma’s 1,596 fire departments have a PPC rating of class 9 or 10.
“We initiated a public awareness/education campaign last year designed to do exactly what Oklahomans have been asking me to do, which is decrease insurance premiums,” said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak. “As a department, we began identifying ways to improve fire protection which potentially correlates to decreased insurance rates. We found that improving fire protection capabilities and ISO ratings could help accomplish that goal.”
OID ISO Field Coordinator Kevin Stoneking has been crisscrossing the state, working to educate fire departments on rural fire protection techniques and the ISO review process to help them prepare for it. The awareness/educational campaign was specifically designed to reduce the current percentage of fire departments at a 9 or 10 rating from 53% to the national average of 35%.
Since the beginning of 2012, 53 reviews have been completed, resulting in 83 updated PPCs. Recently, Commissioner Doak recognized the city of McAlester for their improvement from a 4 to a 3 PPC. The number of reviews is projected to increase significantly over the next several months with OID and ISO collaborating to identify departments in need of reviews. Once a review request has been initiated, it may take several months for the review to be scheduled. In most cases, the updated PPC will publish and changes will be reflected within six months after the review. This creates a lengthy, but often beneficial, process for fire departments.
“ISO fully supports the Oklahoma Insurance Department’s efforts to improve fire protection. The addition of Kevin Stoneking to their staff has benefitted ISO in our grading activities,” said Phillip Bradley, ISO Community Mitigation Manager. “Combined efforts with the Oklahoma Rural Coordinators have been very successful in identifying candidates for improvement and helping prepare them for an ISO evaluation. Better prepared communities typically result in better scores on their evaluations.”
“Preparing for our review in May has been an extremely positive experience,” said Roland Fire Chief James Edwards. “The preparation and Kevin Stoneking’s extensive knowledge has been a valuable asset in the review process. I have seen the motivation stirred up in several departments in Sequoyah County to make significant changes and we look forward to seeing that reflected in the updated review ratings.”
In addition to a review of the fire department in a community, a PPC includes an evaluation of fire alarm and communications systems and water supply systems. An improved ISO rating can increase the safety of the community, improve fire department capabilities, identify areas for improvement and promote economic development. Fire departments who need more information about an ISO review can contact Kevin Stoneking with the OID at 405-522-2404.
About the Oklahoma Insurance Department
The Oklahoma Insurance Department, an agency of the State of Oklahoma, is responsible for the education and protection of the insurance-buying public and for oversight of the insurance industry in the state.
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