Homeowners insurance rates in Hayneville spike

Posted by Samuel King - bio | email

HAYNEVILLE, AL (WSFA) - Many homeowners in Hayneville received a shock their homeowners' bills arrived in the mail.  In some cases, bills have more than doubled.  Hayneville Baptist Church pastor Darrell Paulk is prepared for a big hit when his bill comes.

"My concern as a pastor is I've seen families that are hurting in various ways financially, Paulk said. "Some have lost jobs, or they've had decreased hours."

The leadership at the Hayneville Fire Department is not immune from the pain caused by the increased bills.

"It plays a big part in mind," said Jesse McCall, the Chief of the Hayneville Volunteer Fire Department.  "I'm a homeowner here as well, and my insurance is going up as well."

The Insurance Services Office or ISO rating influences homeowners' costs.  Inspectors look at a fire department's manpower, training, equipment and water supply.   The ISO rating ranges from 1 to 10, 1 being the best, and 10 the worst.  For example, Montgomery and Prattville currently have an ISO rating of 2.

Volunteer departments are usually in the middle or high end of that range, but Hayneville tops out at an ISO rating of 10.  In turn, that caused insurance companies to increase homeowners insurance rates in Hayneville.  Fire Department officials say this year's ISO inspection came at a time of transition in the fire department.

"The city took over at the first of the year," said Scott Holmes, assistant chief of the Hayneville Volunteer Fire Department.  "When the city first took over, the ISO was right there on us, they gave us the worst rating we can get."

Holmes said the department has already increased training and is working on applying for grants to get new equipment.  Department officials hope the changes they've made will help bring the rating down, but are also asking for the community's help.

"It's understandable that everybody is upset, but they need to understand that it's not our fault," Holmes said.  "We're trying to help the situation, not hurt the situation.  We need everybody's support to back us and assist us, not monetary assistance, but more volunteering, just to come up and help."

The department is currently asking for more volunteers to help shore up manpower.  It is also hosting a Boston Butt sale next month to help raise funds to buy new equipment.  Many of the grants the department is applying for require the department to match at least some of the funding.   Department officials hope the ISO inspectors will come back after the first of the year, and see the progress they've made, and improve their rating.