Fire insurance: what’s your rating?

24 Mar 2011 | Cpl. Damany Coleman

After planning to buy a home, one of the most important – but often overlooked – decisions is knowing what your home’s fire rating is. More importantly, is that just the distance from your house to the local fire department can drastically affect insurance premiums and make mortgages difficult to pay.

Think you have it all figured out? Check again. Onslow County residents, including service members from aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, need to know that recent action by the Onslow County Board of Commissioners may mean reduced fire insurance premiums for some residents.

Also, according to officials with Onslow County Emergency Management and Homeland Security, those new fire districts that may mean lower insurance rates do not translate into additional taxes for those living in the affected area.

New fire district boundaries and maps were adopted recently for all the fire departments in Onslow County, which has allowed the county to extend fire district lines to their maximum limit.

The maximum limit for coverage was recently only five road miles from a standing fire station and is now at six miles and has gained about 1,200 more people, said Joe Ramirez, MCB Camp Lejeune liaison for government and external affairs.

All residents now included within the six miles may see a reduction in insurance premiums, especially if the structure had been in an area previously rated with an Insurance Services Office rating of 10.

These ISO ratings are based on a measurement of the major elements of a district’s fire department’s fire suppression abilities. The lower the rating, the less community members have to pay in property insurance.

Areas now covered in the five to six road mile range can be rated at an ISO of 9E, which can mean up to a 10 percent reduction in premiums on homeowner and business insurance, according to the N.C. Department of Insurance.

“Families should be proactive to find out whether the new regulations have put them inside the new fire districts,” said Ramirez. “Regardless of whether are or not, they should take time to contact their insurance agency to find out more information their policy.”

Residents who believe they have been affected by the extensions can check with the Onslow County Tax Office to determine whether their insurance should be adjusted.

Residents can also check online at or call (910) 989-2200.