- Associated Press - Monday, January 20, 2014

HOUMA, La. (AP) - The Village East Fire District has attained an improved rating, meaning residents of the Houma community can expect a decrease in their fire insurance rates.

The Property Insurance Association of Louisiana rates fire departments’ safety and training every four years on a scale of 1 to 10, with Class 1 being the best. The ratings affect the policyholder insurance rates.

The Courier reports (https://bit.ly/KZxnQ9) the department was assigned a Class 10 rating after its review in April 2013.

That meant a $150,000 home was assessed a $4,657 fire insurance premium each year, state Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon said.

The rating was tied to insufficient training hours for volunteers and affected about 3,200 people, Chief Herbert Fitch said.

After working to fix the issue, the department attained a Class 5 rating this month. With the improved rating, a $150,000 home will cost $2,522 to insure, Donelon said.

Homeowners should see a significant drop in the insurance premiums beginning Feb. 10.

“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.

The fire department revamped its equipment and began to meticulously document training sessions to improve the rating, Fitch said. It also hired two full-time firefighters.

“It’s not me who fixed this,” he said. “It’s a team. It’s the men and women who came to the training. They gave up their weekends.”

It’s unclear whether those who paid the high rates will get their money back, Fitch said.

“Some insurance companies said they would give refunds,” he said. “Some said they would credit them this year.”

Fitch said the fire department hopes to lower its rating to a Class 4 or 3 when it is next rated within the next two years.


Information from: The Courier, https://www.houmatoday.com



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