Contrary to what was posted on the Lebanon Fire and EMS Facebook page on Thursday, the ISO, or Insurance Service Office, score has little to do with Lebanon residents' homeowners insurance rates, according to a longtime Northern Seacoast insurance agency owner.
"Those ISO rates only apply to areas that have hydrants," said Turner Liberty Insurance owner Paul Turner today. "If you don't have hydrants they can charge you a higher rate or keep it at a lower rate if you are within five miles of a responding fire department.
Turner, who sells insurance out of his Farmington, N.H., office to both Maine and New Hampshire residents, said even if the rate goes up or down (one is the lowest meaning the optimal fire protection, 10 the highest or least optimal), the premium differential is usually pretty negligible.
He said recently when Farmington's ISO rating went from a 6 to a 5, his own homeowner's insurance rate didn't go down at all, and that the converse is true.
He said even if they skyrocket or drop by three points, you might be talking about a 5 percent change overall.
In general he said the only thing that matters in establishing homeowners' insurance premium relating to fire protection is the distance to a hydrant and the distance to a responding fire department. The magic number for hydrants is 1,000 feet. If you're within 1,000 feet you get a little lower premium. The same holds true if you're within five miles of a responding fire department.
The only fire hydrants in Lebanon, however are in South Lebanon in a small area toward the end of River Road closest to Route 202.
Lebanon Fire Chief Dan Meehan was not immediately available for comment.