2018-03-10 / Front Page

Insurers say closures would be expensive

BY BIL WILCOX
COURIER-TIMES STAFF WRITER

Five volunteer fire departments have delivered letters of intent to county commissioners stating they intend to forego signing contracts with the county for fire protection services effective July 1 unless they receive significantly more funding in the form of a fire tax, or as they refer to it, a Contracted Emergency Services tax.

The fire departments which have drafted the letters of intent are Timberlake, Allensville, Moriah, Ceffo and Semora.

Recently Gordon Carver, owner of Carver Insurance Agency and agent Neal Bowes discussed what would happen if the departments do, in fact, shut down.

“That could be a real problem,” Carver said. “A lot of companies don’t write what is called a Class 10. If they do write a Class 10 it is more expensive.” An ISO rating of 10 means it is unprotected, outside of a six-mile radius of a volunteer or full-time fire department.”

The six-mile radius is road miles as opposed to distance as the crow flies.

“We have at least eight companies that we do busi- ness with on homeowners insurance,” Bowes said. “To my knowledge only two or three of those will write a 10. The others won’t even touch it. Sometimes you wind up having to go to what we call an excess market to find a company but their rates are pretty high.”

Bowes said this is not the first time they have encountered properties in Person County in a Class 10 area.

“We’ve run into that occasionally because there are about four areas of this county that are a 10 because they are more than six miles away from any responding fire department,” he said. He said these areas are readily viewable on the county’s GIS map.

“It will show you which ones are 10s in the county,” he said, “ and it is a problem finding insurance for them sometimes. It is not very attractive on the premium, I will put it that way.”

Carver said there are a limited number of people in Class 10 areas, but that would change if the VFDs shut down.

“You’re talking about massive number of people if the fire departments pulled out,” he said. “You’re talking about a lot of people.”

Bowes said his home insurance went from a Class 9 to a Class 4 and his policy dropped about $200 because he lives just outside the city limit and has a hydrant within 1,000 feet of his home.

“In the city they are all going to be a 4,” he said. “The city has a contract with the county to respond to within five miles of city center and any of those areas that have a hydrant are also a 4.”

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