By NATHAN GREGORY
A portion of Oktibbeha County residents are either paying or can expect to pay more for fire insurance than they were, but the rates themselves haven’t changed. Rather, residents are being charged the correct rates now, fire officials and insurance agents say.
Oktibbeha County Fire Services Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan said he recently received calls from concerned residents about higher insurance rates and was asked if any of the county fire district ratings had changed. With the exception of a large portion of District 5, which improved from a Class 10 to a Class 8 in November, there has been no change.
County insurance companies, however, have changed some ratings from a Class 8 to a Class 10 for multiple reasons, he said.
“The reason for that is they’ve erroneously been getting a (Class) 8 for years. First of all, there were some clerical errors about where you lived compared to where the (district) lines are,” Rosenhan said. “(Also,) with enhanced GPS (global positioning systems), the (Mississippi) Ratings Bureau is now being able to pinpoint different places much better where the agents not only can, but more or less have to plug in every time they sell a policy to make sure they know where it is that they’re getting the correct rating for that piece of property.”
Jack Forbus, an insurance agent with State Farm, said the difference between a Class 8 and a Class 10 can be anywhere from 35 to 40 percent.
“There are some people who have had erroneously classified property as a (Class) 8 when in reality it was a (Class) 10,” he said. “Now, they’re being charged what they should have been charged all along. They did not get a rate increase. All they got was a proper classification.”
Forbus said he believed the percentage of people affected to be low because some who were unknowingly paying Class 8 premiums despite being in a Class 10 area are now actually in a Class 8 with the improved District 5 rating.
“In the past, if you discovered a property that was misclassified, it was difficult to get it corrected, but now with the proper GPS, the insurance rating bureau does that for you,” he said. “Through the GPS, they’ve got it right. This is the way it should have been all along and people who have had an erroneous lower class rating for a long period of time should be thankful that (insurance companies) are not back charging them for the rate it should have been charged. They’re just correcting and going forward.”