PERRY -- Perry residents living in single-family households stand to save significantly on their homeowners insurance starting Nov. 1.
The change is due to an improved fire protection rating by the national Insurance Service Office Inc.
Perry received a Public Protection Classification rating of 4 on scale that ranges from 1 to 10, with 10 indicating the area doesn’t meet the minimum criteria, said Mayor James Faircloth Jr. at Tuesday evening’s city council meeting. The scores affect how much insurance companies can charge for a fire insurance premium.
Areas across the city were previously rated between 5 and 9 depending on location, Faircloth said.
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“Anyone living within five linear miles of our downtown station had a 5 or 6 rating,” Faircloth said about the previous rating. “Some of them may have had a 9 because of some fire hydrants.”
Perry previously had fire hydrants with two ports of access for fire personnel, Faircloth said.
“Well, (Insurance Service Office Inc.) decided that wasn’t good enough,” he said. “They said that if we didn’t have the three-port hydrant, it didn’t count.”
Faircloth said even if a resident lived in front of a two-port hydrant, the company would not recognize it in its rating. The city replaced the hydrants with three-port versions in order to increase the fire protection rating.
Faircloth credited the improved score to a combination of other efforts, including new equipment as well as more emergency and fire personnel. Those living within five linear miles of both fire stations will save on insurance premiums, Faircloth said.
The better rating will take effect Nov. 1, and residents should notify their insurance company of the city’s improved rating, Faircloth said. Homeowners could save between $290 and $320 for each point of improved rating depending on their insurance company and the material from which their home was constructed, Faircloth said.
About six or seven months ago, Perry began charging residents a fire fee of $10 per house, per month in preparation to take measures needed to improve its insurance rating. However, because the fee wasn’t covering the entire cost of the improvements, it was raised to $17.26 per house, per month.
“The initial thought was that it would be about $20 per house, per month, but we were able to keep it under what we initially thought it would be once everything was said and done,” Faircloth said.
The fire fee will only cover 60 percent of the cost of improvements, and the rest will be paid for with property taxes, Faircloth said.
Even though the rating has improved, Faircloth said the fee isn’t going away.
Businesses, churches, apartments and government buildings are also subject to the fire fee, but the charge varies depending on the building’s size, material, whether or not it has sprinkler systems and other features.
“They all pay. We pay (the fire fee) for this particular building,” Faircloth said in City Hall after the meeting. “We charge the county (the fire fee) and the Board of Education. There are no exemptions.”
To contact writer Laura Corley, call 744-4334.