New ISO rating could mean lower insurance premiums

SUMMIT, NJ — The local Fire Department’s new Insurance Services Office rating could mean lower insurance premiums throughout the city, according to fire Chief Eric Evans.

At the Jan. 15 Common Council meeting, Evans said the Class 2 Public Protection Classification program rating grade from the ISO is earned by fewer than 2 percent of fire departments nationwide.

“An ISO rating is like a report card, with 1 being the highest possible score and 10 being the lowest. Summit’s superior rating illustrates our commitment to superior property fire protection and highly effective operations,” Evans said.

The ISO is an independent company that serves insurance companies, fire departments, communities and regulators by providing information about risk within a community. It is a subsidiary of Jersey City-based Verisk Analytics, a data analytics provider serving customers in insurance, energy, specialized markets and financial services.

The city is also only one of 22 cities in New Jersey that have the Class 2 PPC rating, which took effect Jan. 1.
Evans suggested to residents that they call their insurance companies to notify them of this new rating. Insurance companies use this information for marketing, underwriting and to help establish fire premiums for homeowner and commercial fire insurance.
“Sometimes (the insurance companies) get notified but not always,” he said. “In general, the price of fire insurance in a community with a good PPC grade is substantially lower than in a community with a poor PPC grade.”

This rating may affect commercial and industrial properties more, in terms of lower insurance premiums, Evans said, but he said that residents should notify their insurance companies too.

“I know that every little bit counts with insurance,” he said.
Proof of this new rating is available on the city’s website for those who want to provide it to their insurance company.
The ISO collects and evaluates information from communities around the country on their structure fire suppression capabilities.
Rankings are based on a compound score comprising of emergency communications at 10 percent, fire department personnel and equipment at 50 percent, and water supply at 40 percent. Community interaction and other variables are also factors.

When the department received a PPC rating of 3 in 2017, it launched a number of improvement efforts, resulting in this year’s score of 2.
The ISO audits a fire department a year before a review, allowing it to put a corrective action plan into place. Part of Summit’s plan included increasing the minimum staff inside its firehouses from five to six, along with increased training.

“There is a proven correlation between an excellent ISO rating and a decrease in fire losses in the community, which is always our goal,” Evans said.
The city and its Fire Department are re-evaluated every five years and Evans has hopes that the construction of a new firehouse in the next couple of years will see even more improvements in the department.

The department could use improvement in its facilities, fire prevention certification and training, and fire investigation organization and staffing, all of which could improve with a new firehouse, according to Evans.

“Hopefully, with a new firehouse, we can get more points with training and those other aspects,” he said.
Summit Mayor Nora Radset recognized the department for its hard work and dedication to safety and training at the meeting.

“The Class 2 ISO rating reflects outstanding work by the men and women of the Summit Fire Department,” she said in a recent press release. “I am very proud of this achievement from our expertly trained and properly prepared firefighters, and
the potential benefits to the citizens of Summit.”