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Home and business owners in Oklahoma City could see their insurance premiums dropping in the near future based on findings in a report from the Insurance Services Office. The organization is the leading supplier of actuarial, statistical, underwriting and claims data and services to the property casualty insurance industry. In the latest report, Oklahoma City moved from a classification of nine to a five – one being the best, and 10, the worst.
The ISO collects and evaluates data from cities and communities across the country through a Fire Suppression Rating Schedule and a comprehensive audit. Based on those two factors, a community receives a Public Protection Class ranking of its fire protection services. Everything in a fire department is checked and tested from personnel to equipment. The last tests in Oklahoma City were in 1993.
A pre-survey meeting was held Jan. 31. In the months following that meeting, city officials completed preliminary work with ISO through emails and detailed descriptions as requested. Officials from ISO came to town to tour the 911 Communications Center to test system-failure tests. Based on the technology in place at the center, it passed the inspection. The city received notification of the results on July 20.
Oklahoma City Fire Chief Keith Bryant said challenges the city faces, and the reason for not getting a higher score, lies in outlining areas of the city that are not in close proximity to a fire station. He said any property more than five road miles from a fire station receives a class 10 rating.
Through mutual aid agreements with fire departments in the metro area, OCFD personnel tested water supply in outlining areas to prove it could handle fires in those areas.
“That requirement is 250 gallons per minute for a duration of two hours,” Bryant said. “We had to show that we were capable of supplying in areas where we don’t have hydrants.”
In hauled-water operations, the ISO ranked OCFD in the top 14 departments in the country. Bryant credited that with helping the city with its score.
“This may be the biggest factor in lowering that classification,” he said.
City Manager Jim Couch said a potential economic impact cannot be determined at this point, but hypothetical insurance quotes researched by the Oklahoma Insurance Department showed the new number could result in home and business owners seeing anywhere up to a 50-percent decrease in their insurance premiums.
But each insurance company is different, and while Bryant said some carriers rely heavily on ISO classifications, other don’t use them as a factor at all.
Ward 1 Councilman Gary Marrs, who was also the city’s former fire chief, applauded the ISO classification and the OCFD’s efforts.
“In the fire world, this is a big deal,” he said.