Resident insurance premiums could be impacted

PASO ROBLES — City of Paso Robles Fire and Emergency Services (PRFES) recently received the results of an insurance evaluation conducted by the Insurance Services Office (ISO). This independent organization serves insurance companies by providing them with property and casualty insurance risk assessments. Based on their evaluation, the ISO assigns a Public Protection Classification (PPC) rating for the community.

According to the Summary Report presented at the Sept. 1, Paso Robles City Council meeting, the City of Paso Robles Fire Department received a Public Protection Classification (PPC) score of 75.55 out 105.50, equivalent to a C-rating.

The ISO evaluated three elements of our fire protection capabilities: Fire Department, Water Supply, and Emergency Communications; they account for 50%, 40%, and 10% of the total rating, respectively.

Paso Robles PPC rating broke down as follows:
• 32.88/50 for Fire Department — Due mostly to a shortage of personnel, gaps in coverage areas, lack of existing engine and ladder-service companies, and no training facility.
• 33.72/40 for Water Supply — Due to the ability of the water distribution system to deliver needed fire flows and number of hydrants available.
• 4.51/5.5 for Community Risk Reduction — Due mostly to inadequate staffing for fire prevention activities.
• 8.15/10 for Emergency Communications — Due to lack of software in dispatch and fire engines.

According to the Insurance Service Office statistical data, a community’s investment in fire mitigation is a proven and reliable predictor of future fire losses; so, insurance companies use PPC rating information for underwriting and to help establish fair premiums for home and commercial fire insurance. In general, the price of fire insurance in a community with a good PPC rating is substantially lower than in a community with a poor PPC rating, assuming all other factors are equal.

ISO has identified the lack of staffing in Paso Robles as a critical factor ever since its first evaluation in 1998 and the City is already hearing from homeowners in Paso Robles about their high and or increasing property insurance premiums. Investing resources in the Fire Department to increase personnel and equipment sufficient to improve the ISO rating would increase safety, shorten response times, and possibly enable insurance companies to reduce premiums.

According to the staff report and 10-year PRFES Staffing Analysis presented on Sept. 1, an investment in the Department equal to less than $100 per occupancy per year (there are 12,576 residential units and 1,547 businesses in Paso Robles) would more than pay for the improvements needed in the Department up until 2024.

This would increase incident response capabilities, reduce response times, and address the service deficiency for the northeast quadrant of the City. Assuming that the City can identify additional revenues in these challenging economic times, and such an increase in capabilities in the Department led to a large enough improvement in the City’s ISO rating to cause just a $60 per year reduction in average property insurance premiums, then the improvements would have more than paid for themselves.

Fire Chief Jonathan Stornetta states, “We know fire protection and homeowner’s insurance rates are of concern to our residents. Our 10-year staffing analysis has been created to address both of those concerns, but funding will be key to implementing the plan.”

Getting through this together, Paso Robles