Bogalusa fire rating improves

Published 11:12 am Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bogalusa homeowners can expect significant rate reductions in their fire insurance premiums as of Dec. 10 thanks to an improvement in the city’s fire protection grading.

On Monday, Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon commended local firefighters and officials for making changes that led to the jump from a grading of Class 4 to one of Class 3.

The Property Insurance Association of Louisiana grades all fire districts in the state on a scale of 1 to 10, with Class 1 being the best.

“The improved fire protection grading will bring about insurance rate reductions for many policyholders, but perhaps more importantly, the new grading means that the protection of residents has been significantly enhanced,” Donelon said. “I commend the community for their successful efforts to improve safety.”

That safety comes at a premium, and the local premium is about to change.

Fire insurance for a Bogalusa home valued at $150,000 currently costs about $1,561 a year, but that should drop to about $1,416, for a savings of about $145 in annual premiums, he said.

The premium rate depends on the value of a property, the rate schedule of the company that insures the property and the fire district in which it is located.

“A variety of factors are considered in determining a district’s grading,” Donelon said. “Everything from the number of dispatchers on duty to the number of firefighters and fire trucks, to the availability of water affect a district’s grading.”

Bogalusa Fire Chief Richard Moody was delighted to learn of the local district upgrade and attributed it to a variety of factors.

“That’s great,” he said. “It’s just our training. We got generators. And the mayor backed us up and spent a little money and got recorders.

“But probably the biggest thing is the water system with Public Works. We took a big hit because of that last time in ’07. It’s working better since we got meters.”

The installation of a citywide water meter system had a significant impact on water usage, Moody said.

“From what I understand, (the city) went from using 6 million gallons a day to 1.6 million gallons a day,” he said. “That means more water available to fight fires.”

Moody brought up an important point for homeowners.

“The way I understand it, the insurance companies don’t automatically make the adjustment,” he said. “The public has to contact the insurance companies and tell them.”