Homeowners in rural parts of the county are likely to spend more money on insurance than property owners elsewhere where fire protection is better.
The Hudson Mohawk Resource Conservation and Development Council Inc. is trying to get word out to fire departments and municipal officials about financial savings available though lowering a key rating that impacts how much insurance companies charge for coverage.
Hal Hermance, who chairs the nonprofit’s rural fire protection committee, said homeowners collectively saved more than $200,000 following a project in Washington County.
The effort included buying 200 feet of extra fire hose and a bigger nozzle for a fire truck. It cost about $750, Hermance said.
The improvements led to a lower rating from the Insurance Services Office, Hermance said.
The ISO rates localities and their capabilities regarding fire protection with ratings between 1 and 10, with 10 being the worst.
According to information provided by the Insurance Services Offices’ spokeswoman Jessica Riccardi, the ISO created the Public Protection Classification system used by insurance companies to set insurance rates.
The classification reflects an assessment of fire alarm and communication systems like telephone systems and lines, staffing and dispatching.
It gauges local fire department staffing, equipment and geographic distribution, and also evaluates water supply systems, including fire hydrant condition, maintenance and water availability.
Hermance said projects aimed at improving the ratings can be small such as buying extra hose, or they can be more costly capital investments such as installing ponds and dry hydrants.
Though lower ratings decrease the amount of money insurance companies receive through premiums, they reap the benefits of having improved fire protection capabilities that minimize damage, Hermance said.
“Out in a rural community, if fire departments have access to a lot of ponds with dry hydrants where they can go and get water … you’re saving literally thousands of dollars for insurance companies when you can respond like that,” Hermance said.
The ISO’s public protection classification is only available to fire companies and municipal officials, Hermance said.
The lower the number, the cheaper the insurance rates will be for people.
Hermance said classifications he’s seen in his home county of Montgomery are between 9 and 10.
“They’re in bad shape,” Hermance said.
Members of the Hudson Mohawk Resource Conservation and Development Council Inc. are available to walk fire or municipal officials through the process. Hermance said those interested in projects may qualify for grants to pay for projects.
The council, an all volunteer organization that partners with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, can be reached at 828-4385.