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Sullivan Insurance

This is one of the best articles I have seen about town fire ratings - great job Joe Shortsleeve - so we are brining it to you here for you to become more familiar with how it all works.  If you have more questions or would like to discuss these ratings, please call me at the agency.    Kevin P. Sullivan  10/7/2008

Find Your Town's Fire Rating

BOSTON (WBZ) ? When fire rips through a home, seconds matter in those critical moments. Experience, man power and equipment make the difference when it comes to saving lives and property.

So how do you know if your town's fire department can adequately protect you and your home?

Every city and town is given a rating from one to 10 -- one being the best and ten being the worst. And like it or not, that number often determines how much you pay in homeowner's insurance.

For example, Cambridge gets a one -- the very best rating. While parts of Sherborn get a 10 -- the very worst rating.

"It's a very important number to the consumer," explains Karen Roan, a Needham insurance agent.

She says if your neighborhood gets a five rating, and an identical home across town gets a nine rating, families in the neighborhood rated nine could pay on average $ 500 dollars more each year in insurance.

Janet Churchill lives in an upscale Middleboro neighborhood with a dismal 9 rating.

Shortsleeve: Did you know you pay more on your homeowners insurance because this neighborhood is a nine?

Churchill: No I did not know that… I don't like it.

So who hands out these ratings?

The Insurance Service Office (ISO), a large New Jersey company that calculates risk for insurance companies nationwide.

Here in the Bay State, the ISO gives 53 communities stretching from Falmouth to Rockport to Fitchburg a dismal nine rating. That means neighborhoods only meet minimum standards and might not have enough ample water or hydrants close by.

Hopkinton is on that list too.

"There is really no appeal process if you don't agree with it," said Gary Daugherty, the fire chief in Hopkinton. "It is a difficult process."

Hopkinton is a community where some neighborhoods, including an area of million dollar homes, still gets a lowly nine rating due to a lack of water -- even though the water system was upgraded years ago.

Daugherty says the ISO rating system is inaccurate, unfair and impossible to challenge. "We have not been able to get clarification from the ISO after we were evaluated a few years ago. I think it was 10 years ago. We send correspondence and ask questions and don't get any response back."

WBZ has learned that some people in some neighborhoods are paying higher premiums on their homeowner's insurance based on information that is 10-years old, or in some cases even older.

WBZ tried to speak with executives from the ISO, but they refused several requests for interviews.

(© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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Couldn't believe the difference - my past agent never discussed my coverage the way this agent did! I can't believe how bad my coverage was. They took care of everything & even cancelled my old policies. The new cost was even less than I was paying for for less coverage! I would highly recommend everyone have a review with this agency - they covered ALL the discounts and coverage options, and even asked me what I wanted my insurance to do - no other agent has ever asked me that! They didn't push me towards one company or another - they just competitively quoted with all their insurers. I would recommend everyone have a review with this agency and find out just want you are missing out on.