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Improved fire rating may mean cheaper insurance coverage

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

A recent inspection at the Greencastle Fire Department yielded good results for fire officials, but it could be even better news for home and business owners in the city.

The nationally-known Insurance Services Office, or ISO, recently handed down the results of an inspection it conducted at the request of the fire department.

As a result of that inspection, GFD received an improved performance rating from the ISO which, in turn, could mean a reduction in insurance costs for home and business owners served by the Greencastle Fire Department.

Ted Paris is the president of the Terre Haute region of the Indiana Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. He said insurance companies rely on ISO ratings when calculating what a home or business owner's premiums should be.

Fire departments are rated on a scale of 1-10. The lower the number, the better the service.

In some cases, insurance companies will reduce an individual's premium if the fire department in their community receives an improved ISO rating.

In the case of Greencastle, the fire department received a new rating of 4, which is an improvement from a 6 that it has had for at least the last 10 years.

Additionally, the township received an improved rating of 8-B, which is down from the 9 it held previously.

"Generally, when the ISO rating improves, the rate that the insurance companies charge goes down," Paris said.

However, he cautioned that some insurance companies charge the same premium if the ISO rating falls in a range of one to six, so Greencastle residents may or may not actually see a reduction in their insurance premiums.

"It depends on the individual insurance company," he said.

Still Paris agrees with city officials that the new rating is worth celebrating.

"Four is a pretty good rating when you consider that Indianapolis is a two," he said.

Greencastle Fire Chief Bill Newgent and Mayor Nancy Michael added their comments about the rating.

"It's great news for our city and our citizens," Newgent said.

Michael added, "I would guess that it's pretty hard for a city this size to receive a rating like this. But our department always tries to improve and we want to be the best we can be."

City officials hope their recent success will serve as an added boost to future growth of the city as well.

"One of the first things businesses look at when locating in a new area is what type of fire protection they have," Newgent said. "It helps economic development."

Newgent attributes the improvement to a number of factors, but chiefly to the firefighters who work for the fire department.

"It's a testament to the staff we have here at the fire department," he said. "We have worked really hard to develop a program to provide better fire protection to our citizens."

Also he said the fire department has purchased several pieces of new equipment in the last 10 years and increased the amount of training for its firefighters.

Last year alone, firefighters at Greencastle completed 3,500 combined hours of training.

"Training is a huge part," Newgent said.

The Chicago-based ISO is a national agency that offers information about risk. In addition to providing information to insurance companies, the ISO supplies data for the finance and real estate industries along with health services, government and human resources.

More information can be found at the ISO website, www.iso.com.



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