News brief: Some residential fire insurance ratings deemed inaccurate

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Leader staff report

Homeowners may benefit from a reduced fire insurance premium after a recent fire protection classification re-rating conducted by the Washington State Ratings Bureau.

“The WSRB conducted a routine re-rating evaluation of our area in 2017, and the results of the re-rating took effect in February 2018,” East Jefferson Fire Rescue Fire Chief Jim Walkowski stated in a news release. “Upon reviewing a specific customer request regarding their rating, we discovered the potential that a number of area homes may have an incorrect insurance rating.”

Washington is one of a handful of states that use the services of an independent rating service to evaluate communities for their fire protection and suppression capabilities.

Using a schedule approved by the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, the bureau assigns each community a protection class between 1, for exemplary for insurance credit, and 10, for insufficient for insurance credit, according to the release.

The rating may be used by an insurance company to assist in determining fire insurance premiums for properties. However, not all insurance companies use the WSRB rating to set insurance rates. Communities are evaluated every five years in four major areas: fire department, water supply, emergency communications systems and fire safety control.

Walkowski said the inaccuracies resulted in some area houses that were within a 5-mile driving radius of an EJFR station incorrectly receiving a 5 rating instead of a 9. In addition, the recent rating process hadn’t properly accounted for the regular response of Engine 91, the firefighting and EMS crew from Naval Magazine Indian Island.

One area impacted includes Marrowstone Island south of East Beach Road. Residents of that region who had experienced an increase in their premiums as a result of the re-rating can have their fire protection classification restored to its pre-2018 rating.

Other areas potentially impacted by the inaccuracy are the Kala Point and Cape George communities.

If a fire protection classification is different than the one recently provided by an insurance carrier, Walkowski recommended homeowners contact their insurance provider and advise them of the discrepancy.

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