GPS mapping impacts insurance premiums - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

GPS mapping impacts insurance premiums

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THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - New technology can be a blessing, but it can also be a curse.

New GPS mapping software is revealing costly flaws in Thomas County.

Insurance companies are now learning just how far their customers really are from emergency services, and that could mean those customers have to pay more.

Fire stations are farther away from more people in Thomas County than previously thought. That could translate into higher insurance premiums for many homeowners.

"Through the GPS capability in some of the new mapping software, the companies or the underwriters are able to determine that they are within five miles of any of our current 16 locations or they are beyond the five miles," said Fire Chief Chris Jones.

New figures from the Insurance Services Office increased the number of people outside that five mile range.

"Technology has really changed quite a bit. As you know today you can Google an address or two addresses and it will tell you the quickest route, as well as give you a good idea of the distance between the two," said Jones.

But Jones says he is working diligently with the county commission to find solutions to this problem. "In this case it's easier to build sub-stations at a rough estimate of 17 or so thousand dollars than it is to build a new road to join A and B together."

And it's not only the citizens who need to be aware of the ISO.

The Commission voted Tuesday to purchase seven new fire trucks to meet new standards.

Jones says maintaining the older trucks was also creating a significant financial burden. "We've had repair costs in 2010 of $120,000 annual repair costs to try to maintain equipment that is 30 years old.

Jones says another way they are looking at lowering premiums is automatic aid agreements with neighboring counties.

He says in the event of a structure fire near a county line, Thomas County, as well as the closest station in the other county would be notified.

ISO ratings are reported on a scale of 1 to 10, with one being the best.

Thomas County's rating is currently 9.

The ISO will conduct an inspection in February that could change the rating.

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