Pay Your Dues…Now Pay Up

Last week a man called me, rather adamant about doing a local story on the ‘evils of socialized medicine.’ He says he’s fighting for his life because of what he went through while fighting for this country. Now he’s *also* fighting our health insurance system to get the care he needs.

He now lives in Wilmington but spent his younger years in Vietnam where he was exposed to Agent Orange. He says it’s because of that exposure that he developed a particularly deadly and aggressive form of cancer that requires intensive oncology treatments to fight.

When he was first diagnosed, he ran his health insurance claims through the Veterans Health Administration. They denied his claim and he spent years appealing it. During that time, he used his Blue Cross Blue Shield benefits to cover the cost of his cancer treatments. With all of the co-pays, he says he’s racked up about $70,000. All of those treatments have been through Hanover Medical Specialists in Wilmington.

He recently was told by the VA that they *would* pay his claims…in FULL. Thrilled…he called his oncologist at Hanover Medical Specialists who told him that they would not accept the VA plan. Of note, they do except other forms of government-funded health coverage (i.e. Medicare, Medicaid).

He was livid. He couldn’t believe that he had risked his life fighting for our freedom…and now he couldn’t get the help *HE* needed.

I called Hanover Medical Specialists who told me that the VA is slow to pay and its their choice as to what plans they would take. From what I’ve now read…the VA has a history of health care headaches. While it is certainly the right of any private facility to choose who they receive their income, this veteran felt it unfair that they would accept some government funded programs and not others. He also didn’t think “slow pay” was an acceptable reason for not helping a patient out. His exact response: “They HAVE a choice…because of the war WE fought for them.”

Hanover Medical Specialists did not want to do an interview…I wasn’t surprised. They repeated that they would get in touch with this man and “work something out.”

The next day, when I was getting ready to head out the door to interview this veteran…he called and said that Hanover Medical Specialists had had a change of heart. They WOULD take his VA coverage. He was happy that he wouldn’t have to leave his oncologist and that he now wouldn’t be saddled with astronomical health insurance bills.

He THEN said that he ALSO had had a change of heart…and didn’t want to go on camera anymore. While I’m glad those phone calls I made seem to have lit a fire under this guy’s case and helped get things moving…I’m very disappointed that he took that help and then bailed.

Still…I wanted to share what happened simply to make that point that with enough pressure and persistance…you CAN get the coverage you deserve and have paid for. Ask questions, know your plan and put them on the spot…it gets things done (obviously). Just please dont do it by confusing your local reporter with a patient advocate….

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Fire Tower…What’s Up? (Friday)

Take a tour through the current fire training tower behind Legion Stadium and Greenfield Lake…it doesn’t take long to see why even some of our bravest are probably less than thrilled to be running around in there. The building was built in 1959. Ironically, it was ALSO delayed in opening (I’m waiting to hear the entire story here…sounds like these construction problems are repeating through history!). The site is used by both county and city fire fighters for training drills and to test the equipment.

The space and location are two of the main reasons why the facility is inadequate. Athletes are training nearby on Legion Stadium and residential homes flank the sides of the property. When the hoses are spraying intense streams of water everywhere…there is simply no good place for the water to go.

In a real fire, you’d likely have multiple companies (fire stations) responding. Ideally, a facility needs the space for “multiple company evolutions.” That just can’t happen at the current location…but the new site has ample space.

The trucks also need to be tested for “drafting” (how efficiently they draw water from a source). Not every truck is guaranteed a hydrant in all responses and they sometimes have to draw from a pond or pool. The drafting tank at the current location is just a tank of water they stick the hose in to test it. If you’ve ever seen some of the new “towers” (i.e. BIG new fire trucks) we have…that small of a tank is not big enough for the gear. The newer towers are then continuously drawing and dumping water into that tank and it creates too much turbulence for testing.

The tower itself is just simply out of shape. Drive by it…its obvious. Windows on the inside have shattered, the staircase needs to be sandblasted of rust, the floors have deep cracks, hornets nests on the ceiling…the list goes on. Chief David Hines (WFD) said, “With a new facility on the horizon we just haven’t done stuff like replaced the windows and all…there was no reason to spend money.” Why funnel money into the old site if it was going to be retired soon? That was the idea years ago…but they’re still using that site. I asked him if they thought they would eventually have to spend money on repairs but there is optimism that the recent progress made at the new site will make that unnecessary.

Having a site where fighter’s can train in a real fire is obviously…important. The current building cannot withstand the repetitive heat. Because of that, fire departments are having to do “live burns” at areas throughout the county. The new facility was designed as a one-stop-shop…all the training facilities you could need…all in one place.

The new facility really is state-of-the-art. I toured that area as well…

The efflorescence on the side of the walls is a white salty substance that is common in construction. Its evidence that moisture is seeping into the concrete. Given the repetitive high volume of water that will be sprayed on those buildings…and natural moisture in the air…the electrical wiring inside is greatly compromised without the water repellent polymer. Contractor D.S. Simmons has agreed to replace the electrical fixtures and hinges that have already rusted. That should be done in the next 3-4 weeks (on their dime…).

After CFCC had their ribbon cutting ceremony last year (2008), the State Department of Construction came out to inspect the building. David Hardin told me they saw the efflorescence right away. An inspector took a hose and sprayed the wall…the water absorbed into the concrete.

I have a copy of that inspection report. I also have a copy of the specifications for that building which CLEARLY state that the water repellant polymer was required. I called the architect James Stumbo (Stewart Cooper Newell Architects) to find out how that polymer didn’t make it into the concrete mix. He told me to talk to David Hardin at CFCC….

Then I called Jody Wall at Johnson Concrete. They made it…surely they would know?! I was told to talk to the contractor, D.S. Simmons…no further comment.

Then I called D.S. Simmons…who agreed to an interview…and then told me to go talk to their lawyer.

I asked if D.S. Simmons was suing the concrete manufacturer….I’m only told that D.S. Simmons *currently* does not have a lawsuit pending against them.

 What I DO know about D.S. Simmons is that they have been testing external sealants on the mock walls to find out if a polymer applied to the outside of the bricks would perform the same function. They looked at four products, the results for Protectosil were announced yesterday and are the most promising. Protectosil will actually perform BETTER than if the polymer had been included in the original concrete.

 There’s a catch. Protectosil will have to be re-applied to the outside of the buildings every 7 years and the inside of the buildings every 2-3 years. THEY are paying. They will also seal the mortar which is great for the longevity of the building.

 CFCC’s Board approved the initiative to seek liquidated damages for the money lost in tuition and fees because of the facilities suspended use. I did not know until yesterday that that money would be shared with the city and county…I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to hear!

 11 million dollars of tax payer dollars is certainly not chunk change. CFCC respects this and David Harden says that they are working hard to get the facility on line but its important to take the time to fix this error completely so that no further delays or accessory expenses may occur.

 At CFCC’s Board meeting yesterday they approved the use of Protectisil and work should begin soon. You can be sure I’ll be following the progress…

 

 

 

 

 


“Cash For Clunkers” IS a Clunker!

We haven’t seen many car commercials in a while (…which is not helping my efforts to get a raise!) but a new kind of ad has emerged on the airwaves touting the “Cash for Clunkers” program. More formally known as the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), the $1 billion federal program starts today in an effort to get people to off-load their ‘clunkers’ in exchange for new fuel efficient vehicles. 

Basically, you hand over your ride and the government gives you $3,500 to $4,500 as a discount to a new lease or purchase. The idea is to put some fuel into auto sales (…and the economy). Sounds great huh? Admittedly, I started thinking about trading in my car when I heard about this “deal.” That is, until I remembered that my car is only a few years old and gets outstanding gas mileage…but hey, if its new and shiny…who wouldn’t want a new set of wheels?! 

Not everyone is so enthused however… 

The Wall Street Journal says this initiative IS a clunker! Writer Evan Newmark makes these points:

  1. The program is designed to help U.S. automakers who’ve already absorbed over $100 BILLION of your tax dollars.
  2. The program is too small to make a dent. Initially, it was designed to be quadruple its current size however, Congress backed off when they saw the price tag.
  3. Its $1 billion funding will only cover about 250,000 new cars…less than 3% of current US auto production.
  4. The CARS legislation lowered the mileage requirements for GM, Chrysler and Ford who sell those big ol’ SUVs and trucks (wait…wasn’t this whole thing about getting smaller more fuel efficient cars??!!).
  5. Buyers get a rebate when the new ride has a whopping 4 mpg. But get this…if you buy one of those big box cars, you get the rebate so long as it gets just one measly extra mile per gallon….WOW…Mother Earth takes a huge sigh of relief! 

Cars.gov is the government’s website that outlines the details:

  • Your vehicle must be less than 25 years old on the trade-in date.
  • Only purchase or lease of new vehicles qualify.
  • Generally, trade-in vehicles must get 18 or less MPG (some very large pick-up trucks and cargo vans have different requirements).
  • Trade-in vehicles must be registered and insured continuously for the full year preceding the trade-in.
  • You don’t need a voucher, dealers will apply a credit at purchase.
  • Program runs through Nov 1, 2009 or when the funds are exhausted, whichever comes first.
  • The program requires the scrapping of your eligible trade-in vehicle, and that the dealer disclose to you an estimate of the scrap value of your trade-in. The scrap value, however minimal, will be in addition to the rebate, and not in place of the rebate.

CashForClunkersFacts.com provided a list of frequently asked questions about the bill.

You can check if it qualifies on FuelEconomy.gov.

“Could Your Post Office Be Closing?”

“Could Your Post Office Be Closing?”

The United States Post Office is looking to lock the doors on about 3,200 office and retail outlets as volume and revenue decline.

I can’t remember the last time I wrote a letter…and if a bill never found its way to me again…I don’t think I’d complain. In fact, given the ubiquity of post office, this probably doesn’t seem like something you’d care about…until it becomes YOUR post office.

The USPS has a multi-BILLION dollar deficit. Over the next three months, their 34,000 stores will be up for review to assess where consolidations are necessary.

Email, electronic bill paying and the recession has shrunk the mail stream…a good part of its bulk having previously come from advertising mail.

Postmaster General John Potter recently asked Congress in March to chop Saturday off the service block. Savings = $3.5 BILLION.

Would anyone really care if they didn’t get the mail on Saturday? It doesn’t seem so…a recent Gallop poll found more Americans would rather see fewer services than see the USPS get a bailout or raise stamp prices.

We don’t know yet which offices may be up for closure. Legally, the Postal Service has to give at least 2 months notice to a community before closure. In addition, they will often send out a survey or have a town hall meeting before a closure. A city will have an opportunity then to argue why their post office must be saved (the next one is too far away…many jobs will be lost…everyone own Netflix? Etc etc). That appeal will go to the Postal Regulatory Commission.

If the USPS can’t figure out a way to save cash now, Postal Chief John Potter says they will go broke this year. (well….that makes two of us John…)

If you really just adore your post office…and can’t fathom living without it…you can show your support by sending out dozens of letters a day…and getting every person you know to do the same…

But at $0.44 per envelope or more…I doubt we’ll see many wide-spread ‘community bailouts’…

N.C. Education Lottery…Here’s Where the $ Goes.

Some of you have asked where the $$$ in our Education Lottery is going. As you know…Bev Perdue was in town this week speaking about the budget’s impact on education. As you also know…she will be ALSO be asking for 1.5 Billion in state-wide taxes to cover the deficit.

I requested to see the budgets from the lottery…I have the proposed budget for next year, if you can’t zoom in…I can email it to you….Budget For 2010Budget 2010

 

 

 

 

As of Tuesday…the FY09 total is $385.5 million—the amount budgeted by the Legislature.  After next week…after a funds transfer to the Office of State Budget and Management…the total for the year will be greater than the amount budgeted—meaning they are one revenue source OVER budget.  So far this year lottery sales have been $1.273 BILLION.

Here is the general breakdown for every budget:

57% goes to prize payout

32% to education

7% to retail commissions and 4% to administration. 

4% to admin…I wanted to hear more about that…I was told that 1.599% goes to gaming vendor, 1% to advertising and the rest goes to staff, building, vehicles, training, travel, etc.

Proceeds from the lottery are transferred to the Office of State Budget and Management. The lottery is not responsible for where the money goes after that…I will keep looking to find out.

This link: http://www.schoolclearinghouse.org/ will show you how our counties use some of their lottery money on construction projects.

According to the lottery…100% of the funds go to education program funding and support.

Perhaps taxpayers can hope with the budget being OVER revenue…that you might not be asked for ALL that 1.5 Billion dollar state-wide tax increase…part of which Perdue wants to use to keep teachers in the classroom…

You might have to ‘hope’…very hard…

Its my understanding that there’s considerable push-back in the Senate…who think a 900 million state-wide increase is more realistic.

Stay tuned….

“Orbits”..and A Bill That Will Jack Up YOUR Bills

Given that Iran is in crisis, North Carolina is in state budget limbo, the stock market is teetering again and unemployment numbers still rising…I do not have much interest in discussing pop-star deaths at length today. Although, I can promise…even though the crew has yet to arrive this morning…that those stories will lead our newscast today. However there is one tid-bit I have found interesting…that I just learned yesterday from our Executive Producer…a little piece of “behind the scenes” news info as to how a news station works…

Maybe you didn’t notice…but within minutes of announcing Michael Jackson, Ed McMahon and Farrah Fawcett’s deaths…the network news stations were airing memorial video stories. I know how long it takes to edit something like that..its not easy! So I was amazed that they were able to slap something like that together so quickly.

Apparently, every news network keeps an archive or “orbits”…video obituaries for major public figures (i.e. celebrities) on hand and when one of them dies…all they have to do is hit play. Our executive producer here told me that someone has the duty of updating them yearly to keep the content fresh.

I wonder who has that job? The obituary news duty….

Just a little insight into how news works…I may be the only person who finds that interesting…

 

Anyways…there is a bill that’s being discussed in the House today and this is news that IS important…

U.S. House Democratics are hoping for a quick passage of a carbon cap-and-trade law that they say is critical to thwarting greenhouse gases and restoring our country’s image globally. 

Moderates are not that excited…because this bill could start jacking up YOUR bills.

What is “cap-and-trade?” Cap-and-trade limits the amount of carbon that manufacturers and energy producers can emit. If they exceed their limit, they would have to buy credits from those who are UNDER their cap.

The idea is to create free-market trading in carbon credits.

Easier said than done says the American Institute for Economic Research, an independent group. They say that in places where cap-and-trade already exists…the market for carbon credits is less than impressive.  

They also say that the bill could double the price of natural gas, fuel used to heat homes. Electricity costs could rise more than 100 percent in the Midwest. I’m not sure yet what the impact would be in N.C. yet….

But here’s an impact you’ll all care about….gasoline and diesel fuel prices could go up nearly an estimated $1 per gallon just from the effects of this bill, driving up the cost of any good that is delivered by truck or train…read: most every consumer product.

This bill may come at a major cost for you…me…and every other American. However…we are also going to pay a major cost for environmental destruction and natural resource depletion in the near future if we can’t get a grip on it NOW…..

Fire Districts

There are two people who you need to get in touch with about your fire district rating…one is your insurance agent and the other is your local fire station.
You can search for your FPC (Fire Protection Class) on the Declaration Page of your homeowner’s insurance policy…good luck….

OR…get in touch with your EMS dept. for the most up-to-date ratings….

Your county’s Emergency Services (Fire) department will know the ratings of their fire districts…here are the county contacts:

New Hanover
230 Government Center Drive, Suite 130
Wilmington, NC 28403
PHONE: 910-798-7420
FAX: 910-798-7052

Website: http://www.nhcfirerescue.org/index.php (you can search for your district on their website)

Brunswick
Building C
3325 Old Ocean Highway
Bolivia, NC  28422

Phone: 910.253.5383
bcema@brunsco.net
Website: http://emergencyservices.brunsco.net/Home/tabid/355/Default.aspx
Pender
605 E. Fremont Street
Burgaw, NC  28425
(910) 259-1210

Eddie King, Director: kinge2@pender-county.com
Charles Newman, Fire Marshal / Assistant Director: newmanc@pender-county.com
Tommy Batson, Deputy Fire Marshal: batsont@pender-county.com

Website: http://www.penderem.com/contact%20information.htm

Columbus
608 North Thompson Street
Whiteville, NC  28472

Jeremy Jernigan, Director: jjernigan@columbusco.org
(910) 640 6610 voice

Kay Worley, Deputy Director: kworley@columbusco.org
(910) 640 6610 voice
Website: http://www.columbusco.org/DotNetNuke_2/Default.aspx?alias=www.columbusco.org/dotnetnuke_2/emergency

Bladen
Department Head—Mitchell Byrd
(910) 862-6760
OEM@bladenco.org

Website: http://www.bladeninfo.org/departments/emergency/index.html

************

I was hoping to give more county-specific information in this story…with more maps to show how much variation in the districts there are…but only New Hanover and Brunswick responded to my calls, questions and interview requests….(so high-five to those guys!)

Once you get your district’s rating from your fire station…find out when they were last  evaluated by the State Dept. of Insurance. Every district is on a 5 year evaluation plan…HOWEVER…districts can make a request to the state to be re-evaluated sooner. If they have recently put in a fire hydrant somewhere or if they have added a truck, etc….its likely that they will make that request…and so it’s likely your district’s rating will change sooner then scheduled.

Here is a list of what the *scheduled* re-evaluation periods are …(According to the NC Dept. of Insurance)…

I have a very nicely organized Exel document of this…it will not post in a blog so bear with me on the format ( I can email you the doc. if you’d like)

Take note:
1.    Ratings under a “6” I’m told will not change your fire protection cost….its when you move from a 9 to a 6 or 10 to a 7 for example that you will feel the impact. However, if you own commercial property…ratings under a “6” DO make a difference on your insurance costs.
2.    Districts are defined as 5 mile ROAD territory around a station (not a perfect circle).
3.    If you have a grade of 6/9S…that means that homeowners within 1000 ft of a hydrant get a class 6, but the ones > 1000ft and STILL within 6 miles from the fire station are a “9S.”
4.    If the grade is a 6/9E then homes within 1000ft of a hydrant are a class “6”…homes that are more than 5 or 6 miles are a “9E.”

Bladen
Department    Re-Inspection     District Served    Rating
Ammon Volunteer Fire Department, Inc.    3/25/2013    Ammon    9E
Bay Tree Lakes V.F.D.    3/25/2013    Bay Tree Lake    9E
Bladenboro Fire Department, Inc.    3/25/2013    Bladenboro, Bladenboro Rural    7, 7/9S
Carvers Creek V.F.D., Inc.    3/25/2013    Carvers Creek    9E
Clarkton Fire Department    3/25/2013    Clarkton, Clarkton Rural    6, 6/9E
Dublin Fire Department    3/25/2013    Dublin    6
East Arcadia Fire Department, Inc.    3/25/2013    East Arcadia    9E
Elizabethtown Fire Department    3/25/2013    Elizabethtown, Elizabethtown Rural    5, 6/9E
Hickory Grove V.F.D., Inc.    3/25/2013    Hickory Grove    9E
Kelly V.F.D., Inc    3/25/2013    Kelly    9E
Lisbon V.F.D., Inc.    3/25/2013    Lisbon    9E
Tar Heel Rural V.F.D., Inc.    3/25/2013    Tar Heel    7/9E
Tobermory V.F.D., Inc.    3/25/2013    Tobermory    9E
White Lake Fire Dept.    3/25/2013    White Lake, White Lake Rural    6, 7/9E
White Oak Fire Dept.    3/25/2013    White Oak    9E

Brunswick
Department    Re-Inspection     District Served    Rating
Bald Head Island Fire Dept.    7/21/2011    Bald Head Island    6
Boiling Springs Lake V.R.D.    7/25/2011    Boiling Springs Lake    4/9E
Bolivia V.F.D., Inc.    6/23/2013    Bolivia    7/9E
Calabash Fire Dept., Inc.    3/19/2014    Calabash, Calabash Rural, Carolina Shores    4, 5/9E, 4
Civietown V.F.D., Inc.    10/8/2013    Civie Town    6/9E
Grissettown-Longwood Fire & Rescue, Inc.    7/20/2011    Grissettown Longwood    5/9E
Leland Volunteer Fire/Rescue Dept., Inc.    1/27/2014    Belville, Leland, Leland Rural    6, 6/10, 6/9E
N.W. Volunteer Fire/Rescue Dept., Inc.    7/25/2011    Northwest    9E
Navassa V.F.D.    7/24/2011    Navassa      9/10
Oak Island Fire and Rescue Dept.    7/18/2011    Oak Island    5
Ocean Isle Fire Dept.    12/8/2013    Ocean Isle Beach & Rural    4, 4/9E
Shallotte Fire Dept.    7/20/2011    Shallotte, Shallotte Rural    4, 4/9E
Shallotte Point V.F.D., Inc.    7/20/2011    Shallotte Point    6/9E
Southport Fire Dept.    7/18/2011    Southport, Southport Rural    4, 4/9E
St. James Fire Dept., Inc.    7/27/2011    Saint James, Saint James Rural    5, 5/9E
Sunset Beach Fire Dept.    7/19/2011    Sunset Beach, Sunset Beach Rural    5, 5/9E
Sunset Harbor & Zion Hill V.F.D., Inc.    7/26/2011    Sunset Harbor Zion Hill    5/9E
Supply Volunteer Fire Dept., Inc.    7/26/2006    Supply    9E
Tri-Beach V.F.D., Inc.    8/1/2013    Holden Beach    5
Waccamaw V.F.D. and Rescue Inc.    7/27/2011    Waccamaw    9E
Winnabow V.F.D., Inc.    7/24/2011    Winnabow    9E
Yaupon Beach V.F.D., Inc.    7/18/2006    Cawell Beach, Yaupon Beach Rural    5, 5/9E

Columbus
Department    Re-Inspection     District Served    Rating
Acme-Delco Riegelwood Fire & Rescue    8/30/2010    Acme Delco, Riegelwood    6,4
Bolton Volunteer Fire/Rescue Dept., Inc.    11/8/2010    Bolton    9E
Brunswick V.F.D., Inc.    12/6/2010    Brunswick    7/9E
Buckhead V.F.D., Inc & Rescue Squad    11/8/2010    Buckhead    9E
Cerro-Gordo V.F.D. & Rescue    11/16/2010    Cerro-Gordo    9E
Evergreen V.F.D.    11/15/2010    Evergreen    9E
Fair Bluff Fire Dept. & Rescue Squad    11/15/2010    Coles, Fair Bluff    9E/5
Hallsboro V.F.D., Inc.    11/15/2010    Hallsboro    9E
Klondyke-Chadbourn Volunteer Fire Dept.    5/7/2014    Chadbourn, Klondyke    6, 6/9E
Lake Waccamaw Fire Dept.    11/9/2010    E. Columbus, Lake Waccamaw    6/9E, 6
Nakina Fire & Rescue Squad, Inc.    11/18/2011    Nakina    9E
North Whiteville V.F.D.    11/16/2010    North Whiteville    9E
Old Dock/Cypress Creek V.F.D & Auxiliary    11/9/2010    Old Dock/Cypress  Creek    9E
Roseland V.F.D.    12/6/2010    Roseland    9E
St. James V.F.D., Inc    11/8/2010    St.James    9E
Tabor City Fire Dept.    12/7/2010    Tabor City, Yam City    5,5/9E
White Marsh-Welches Creek Community V.F.D.    11/10/2010    Welches Creek    9E
Whiteville Fire Dept.    11/17/2010    Whiteville    4
Williams Township Commuity Fire Dept.    12/7/2010    Williams Township    9E

New Hanover
Department    Re-Inspection     District Served    Rating
Carolina Beach Fire Dept.    1/29/2013    Carolina Beach    5
Castle Hayne V.F.D., Inc    1/29/2013    Castle Hayne    6/9E
Federal Point Fire-Rescue, Inc.    1/29/2013    Federal Point    5/9S
Kure Beach V.F.D.    10/17/2013    Kure Beach    5
Myrtle Grove V.F.D., Inc.    1/29/2013    Myrtle Grove    5/9S
New Hanover County Fire Dept.    1/29/2013    Highway 421 North    5/9S
Ogden V.F.D., Inc.    1/29/2013    Ogden    5/9E
Wilmington Fire Dept.    1/29/2013    Wilmington    2
Wrightsboro V.F.D., Inc.    1/29/2013    Wrightsboro    6/9E
Wrightsville Beach Fire Dept.    1/29/2013    Wrightsville Beach    4

Pender
Department    Re-Inspection     District Served    Rating
Atkinson Fire Dept.    4/18/2013    Atkinson    9E
Burgaw Fire Dept.    11/17/2013    Burgaw, Pender Central    5/9S, 5/9E
Hampstead V.F.D., Inc.    4/18/2013    Hampstead    7/9E
Long Creek-Grady V.F.D., Inc.    4/19/2013    Long Creek-Grady    9E
Maple Hill V.F.D., Inc.    4/18/2013    Maple Hill    9E
Penderlea Fire Dept.    4/18/2013    Penderlea    9E
Rocky Point V.F.D., Inc.    4/18/2013    Rocky Point    9E
Shiloh-Columbia V.F.D., Inc.    4/18/2013    Shiloh-Columbia    9E
Sloop Point V.F.D., Inc.    4/18/2013    Sloop Point    9E
Surf City Fire Dept.    4/15/2008    Surf City    6
Topsail Beach Fire Dept.    4/18/2013    Topsail Beach    5

According to the Dept. of Insurance…insurance agents are automatically notified through ISO (www.ISO.com) about ratings changes that will affect their client’s policies. Theoretically, when their customers renew…they automatically qualify for the reduced rates. When I first heard that homeowners automatically qualify I though…not much of a story here…

BUT…

After speaking with a handful of local homeowners who had no clue what I was talking about… who are living in areas that had a class change but weren’t notified…it seemed like a good topic to get the word out on.

Then, when a homeowner’s insurance agent told me they were concerned that people would be calling up asking for years worth of rebates…I figured this was DEFINETELY something to discuss…its YOUR money and if the rate was lowered…I do believe you should be compensated for years of overpaying.

The Dept. of Insurance says it more probable that there was simply a disconnect along the communication line. They say if a Fire Chief does not notify them about an early re-evaluation or paper work gets mixed up, etc. etc….there may be a delay in your agent’s response to lowering your rate.

Robert McIver attests to this…and I know he loves being the money-saving messenger…his face nearly lights up when he talks about saving people’s premiums…and how many people does THAT happen to?!

Robert says he used to receive notices from the fire department when their district ratings had changed…but no longer does.

WHOMEVER is responsible…this is something that YOU can stay on top of…its YOUR cash after all.

The Dept. of Ins. told me that if you were not notified of a ratings change when you renewed, you ARE entitled to your money back on those lower premiums. If you are having trouble with your agent/provider….they say you should file a complaint with their department….call 1-800-546-5664.

A little more about the specific ratings….

The best rating you can get…a “1”…those are few and far between. In fact, I believe there is only one of them in NC (not in our area). So the city of Wilmington takes top honors coming in at a “2.” Robert McIver says they should be very proud of that because they are so hard to get.

On the other hand, there are rural areas, like in Brunswick County, that come in at a 9 or a 10. Does this mean that if you live in those areas no one is coming to help you if your house is on fire?

NO.

Scott Garner (B.C. Fire Marshall) says that when a call comes in from those areas…the surrounding districts are alerted and aid goes out from the nearest station. And STAY TUNED Brunswick County because Scott says that there are some significant changes coming in the near future to a handful of your districts.

Getting a top rating is something that’s a continuous goal for ALL of these districts.  Funding plays a big part in how successful they may be…and in this economy…money isn’t at ANYONE’S disposal. Figure that each of those trucks costs $800,000 or so…if that’s the difference in your station moving up in a ratings class…even if a station’s team are world class fire squashers…. without ample coins in the coffer…that truck will have to wait and so may the higher rating.

The fire officials I spoke to said that they are constantly working on the upgrades….and lucky us….its all to our benefit.

A few final words about our fire departments….

I’ve been working on this story for over one month. Previously….I knew very (VERY) little about fire departments except the obvious. I had no idea just how MUCH they do. If there is a car crash, a house fire, a medical emergency…they are always there because they’re first responders. Calls big and small…they are on it.

They go through countless of hours of training every year in order to respond to any type of situation. If they are not AT the fire…they are probably out somewhere training for one…

And they have a very deep sense of pride in what they do and a strong commitment to one another…and that’s very rare to encounter anymore.

So I hope that I’ve somehow made you more aware of where your  insurance $$ goes and how you might be able to save some.
I also hope that you will connect with your local fire station to learn about your rating and any future changes.

And I really hope that you will stop by that station soon…a handshake and a thank you for all the hard work…that really DOES pay off for all of us.

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