Weatherford Democrat

February 14, 2014

City’s insurance ratings could lower rates, officials say

On a scale of 10, ISO rating gives Weatherford 4 on commercial and 5 on residential properties


Weatherford Democrat

— By BRIAN SMITH

Weatherford city officials said they were pleased with recent building code-related scores from the Insurance Services Office, which could lower homeowners insurance rates in the future.

ISO officials gave the city a four for commercial and a five for residential on a scale from one to 10, with one being the best score.

Weatherford Building Official Randy Law told Planning and Zoning Commission members during Wednesday’s meeting that, while the scores seem average, they are actually quite good for a first-time rating.

“That is really excellent for a first-time rating,” Law said. “There are very few, if any, ones given and only a few twos, so our score was good.”

City council members recently updated the 2009 International Building Code and 2008 fire safety codes for the city. The most recent IBCs were developed in 2012, but Director of Planning and Development Craig Farmer said many cities stay behind to allow developers and construction companies a chance to catch up to recent developments.

“In the past, Weatherford has not been a participant in the program and was given a score of 99, which signified to insurers a jurisdiction had no process of building code evaluation and so no insurance credits were considered,” Law stated.

“Weatherford’s new low score makes it more likely that valuable discounts will be offered to property and business owners throughout the community.”

ISO officials came to town last month. Law told the P&Z they met for about three hours and discussed a number of items, including procedures, workload and staff used to manage the workload.

Insurance providers look at ISO scores to determine premium credits for homeowners and businesses, but Law said not all insurance providers are members. The scores do help determine who will get the credits, which can be a substantial savings, Law said.

“Getting the ISO rating helps us stay on a straight line,” Law said.

The ISO is an insurer-supported organization with the primary mission of providing advisory insurance underwriting and rating information to insurers. The insurers may use the Building Code Effectiveness Grading Classification recently developed for communities as a basis for how the credits are used. The ISO program will apply credits to new construction within Weatherford that has been issued a certificate of occupancy in the year 2014 and forward.

In a prepared statement, Fire Marshal Bob Hopkins reiterated how hard scores of one are to achieve.

“There are only 14 fire departments with a one rating in the state of Texas,” Hopkins said. “These ratings are figured utilizing different variables within a city and are heavily rated by the size of paid fire department, water supply (hydrants), firefighter training, fire prevention and building codes. The updated codes will hopefully assist in moving that rating to at least a two in the next ISO evaluation.”

Law said ISO evaluations are normally given every five years to allow entities to be up to date with building codes, but admits those can be flexible.