Safety upgrade means possible 50 percent drop in fire insurance

By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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Journal file photo

A man watches on the edge of the American River canyon in Auburn as Cal Fire plane drops fire retardant on a blaze last July.  


Lowered homeowner insurance costs could be coming the way of residents in Placer County Fire Department service areas after a rating improvement shows fire risk going down.

The county fire department’s Insurance Service Office rating four years ago stood at 6 out of 10, with a 10 signifying an uninsurable zone.

Going into the 2018 fire season, Placer County has improved to a 4. A statement from Placer County Fire says that the rating may be revised even further down to a 3 within six months due to service improvements.

The service area covered by Placer County Fire takes in 475 square miles of unincorporated western Placer County and covers 52,000 of the county’s 360,000 residents.

The rating, conducted every four years, evaluates an area’s fire risks. Water supply, personnel, equipment, training and dispatch services are some of the factors taken into consideration.

According to Placer County Fire, improvements have been made over the past four years to justify the recent rating upgrade. Improvements have included dispatch center enhancements, improved staffing in the prevention bureau, a better water delivery system and the purchase of more modern equipment.

Placer County Fire Chief George Morris said he’s proud of the men and women of the Placer County Fire Department.

“I view this improved rating as an affirmation of their dedicated professional service to the people of Placer County,” Morris said.

The department states that for homeowners in unincorporated areas of the county, the improved rating could mean cost savings on fire insurance. The average premium for a homeowner in Placer County with a rating of “8” is $1,600 a year.

The department is advising that not all insurance carriers use the Insurance Service Office rating to determine risk.

“But for those that do, premiums could go down as much as 50 percent with the new rating of 4,” the department states.

Other factors, including deductibles, previous claims and the risk of wildfire in certain areas, are also factored into the premium rates insurers set.

The department is recommending residents served by Placer County Fire contact their insurance provider with specific questions on how the new rating might affect their premiums.