Sevierville ISO rating improves

Mar. 06, 2013 @ 12:13 AM

People who own homes and businesses here may soon pay lower insurance rates. The New Jersey firm Insurance Services Office, or ISO, has upgraded the city's fire public protection classification. The firm advises insurance companies.

ISO classifies cities' fire protection on a scale of 1 to 10; the best classification is 1. Sevierville has a split classification, 3/9, which improves on the city's previous rating, 4/9.

The first number in the new classification, 3, pertains to properties that are within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant and within five road miles of one of Sevierville's two fire stations. The second number in split ratings "applies to properties within five road miles of a fire station but beyond 1,000 feet of a hydrant," according to ISO's website.

When ISO rates fire services, the company evaluates "training, the number of stations, service records on apparatus, water system, available water and number of hydrants," said Sevierville Fire Chief Matt Henderson.

"They also consider number of personnel relative to the size of the area, number of calls, building construction, building type," Henderson said. "It's a complicated formula."

Not every insurance company takes the ISO's ratings into account when premiums are calculated. Still, Henderson said, Sevierville homeowners may see their premiums reduced by 10 percent. Businesses could see rates that are 1 to 3 percent lower.

ISO last classfied Sevierville's fire service 10 years ago. Numerous improvements have been made since then, and the lower rating is the result.

"The city added the Collier Drive station since the last survey," said Henderson. "The city improved the water system and central dispatch, the communications system." Henderson also cited the Sevier County Fire Chiefs Association's new training facility.

The new classification takes effect May 1.

ISO recently upgraded Pigeon Forge's fire classification from 5 to 3. That change takes effect next month. Gatlinburg's rating is 3.

Among the 1,107 cities ISO rates, about 40 have the class 3 rating. Just five cities in Tennessee have the class 2 rating. No Tennessee cities are rated class 1.

kburns@themountainpress.com