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Water availability at heart of fire insurance cost hikes

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New standards with the Insurance Services Offices (ISO) are requiring more information on available water supply, indirectly causing homeowner’s insurance hikes for many Georgians, including some in Bulloch County.

According to Statesboro Fire Chief Tim Grams, ISO standards have become more strict, demanding more specific information regarding water availability for homeowners.

Residents relying on privately-owned water systems that might not have met water availability and data requirements may have seen a change raising their ISO ratings, therefore leading to an increase in  insurance costs, he said.

In the past, many privately owned water systems have not supplied “test records for flow data for water availability,” which were not required before.

However, those are requried now, since ISO is “asking more questions” about water supply, he said.

Many residents likely have had lower ISO ratings in the past “that they should not have had,” he said. By requiring more specific data on water availability, the ISO is actually correcting matters and assigning more accurate ISO ratings.

This can change, however. Across Georgia, private water companies are coming on board to provide the data and improvements to their systems that should lower most residents’ ratings, Grams said.

Statesboro and Bulloch County water system owners are working with the county and consultants, and are making the required changes and improvements, he said.

“They are getting their systems upgraded and installing hydrants.”

Both Bulloch County and Statesboro fire departments are working with the community to help improve fire services and lower ISO ratings.

The Statesboro Fire Department is holding public meetings for city residents, as well as those in the five-mile radius of the city limits (Statesboro fire district), to listen to concerns and help explain  the situation, he said.

The next meeting is Monday, Feb. 11, from 6-8 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church on Country Club Road near Veterans Memorial Parkway.

After that, meetings will be held Monday, Feb. 18 from 6-8 p.m. in the William James Middle School cafeteria (Hwy. 80 West) and Monday, Feb. 25 from 6-8 p.m. in the Langston Chapel Elementary School gym on Langston Chapel Road.

Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at 912-489-9414.

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