|By Steve Vaughan, The Virginia Gazette, Williamsburg|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"My homeowner's (policy) more than doubled and I am within one mile of the station," Kennedy said in an email Tuesday. "I spoke to my agent, who claimed we were downgraded due to response times of the station, proven to be untrue, and the fact it is a volunteer station, again untrue.
"It's a professional station," he continued. "And because I lived more than 5 miles from the station, again untrue."
Kennedy said he knows
Luton said in a recent phone interview that the fire department has been fielding calls on the issue for about two years.
"We hear it from all parts of the county," he said. "But particularly from
A fire department spokesman said Tuesday that the information comes from the Insurance Services Office, which has three ratings measuring how far from a fire station and a fire hydrant a home is located. If the distance exceeds five miles from a fire station, it doesn't matter how close a fire hydrant is.
Contributing to the problem is that insurance companies don't count proximity to volunteer fire stations. The station a mile from Kennedy's house is called the
"They should know," Luton said. "We've told them, and the ISO rating reflects that it's a professional station."
In addition, insurance companies base the distance rating on driving distance, not the actual radius (see map). Aside from
Luton said the fire department has driven to some addresses as a service, measuring the driving distance. He's encountered one homeowner who was exactly five miles away. The insurer invoked the higher rate because the front door of the home was not within five miles.
"That's the protection clause," she explained. "It's a range from one to ten, with ten being no protection," she said in a phone interview Tuesday. "It's not that simple."
Luton said the county as a whole is rated a 4 on the scale, with the lower the number the better.
"That's one factor," Williams said, referring to distance. "But there are thousands of factors. How old is the home? What style of home is it? Is it a brick house or a frame house?"
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