Oxford residents should see savings in insurance

Jan 31st, 2010 | By Hot News Reporter | Category: Insurance Today

(The Oakland Press) – Improvements to the Oxford Fire Department may pay off in real dollars for homeowners in both the village and the township.

“It’s very much something to be proud of,” said Peter Scholz, chief of the fire department.

The fire department got its ISO rating lowered from a 9 to a 3 for areas within the village limits, as well as areas in the township that are within the community well system.

“It means a very large, substantial savings to the residents on homeowner’s insurance and commercial insurance,” Scholz said.

The ISO rating is given by the Insurance Services Organization to all communities in Michigan and reflects the capabilities of the fire department. Lower ISO ratings generally mean lower insurance premiums for residential and commercial property owners, and vice versa.

Scholz credits the lower rating to the passage of a dedicated fire millage in 2001 and an emergency services millage in 2005.

The dedicated millages, which were renewed in the fall of 2009, now raise about $792,413 annually.

The fire department was able to make $7.3 million in improvements starting in 2002, including the construction of two new fire stations.

Several pieces of equipment also were purchased, including an aerial truck with a 95-foot ladder, a heavy rescue truck that carries extrication equipment, a fire engine, a new tanker that carries 2,500 gallons of water to fires in rural areas where there are no hydrants, an ambulance and a new four-wheel-drive vehicle modified to fight grass fires.

Extra training also was given to firefighters and emergency responders, and 10 full-time firefighter paramedics were hired, allowing the department to have its stations staffed 24 hours a day.

Another factor that contributed to the lower rating is the updating and expansion of the communities’ water systems, including the addition of more hydrants in the township.

Officials with the Insurance Services Organization spent all of 2009 in Oxford reviewing the finest details of the fire department, Scholz said. The new rating took effect Dec. 1.

“In 2008, there were only 23 departments that had a class 3 rating in the state of Michigan,” Scholz said.

The new rating does not apply to the approximately 55 percent of the township that is without fire hydrants, Scholz said. The ISO rating for those areas has dropped from 9 to 8 and could drop further.

“They’re still doing final calculations and we should have that within the next 30 days,” Scholz said. “That should drop substantially also. I hope to be able to get at least a 6.”

Residents are urged to contact their insurance companies regarding the change.

“The insurance companies aren’t going to drop rates on their own,” said Bill Dunn, supervisor of Oxford Township. “That can be hundreds of dollars in savings for every home.”

Scholz said he’s talked to several residents who have seen a drop in their premiums.

“As an example, we even called our insurance company that insures both fire halls and it’s saving us $1,000 a year just for our two stations,” Scholz said.

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