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Building codes department maintains strong ISO rating for community

Every five years ISO—the Insurance Services Office—assesses building codes administration programs in communities around the world and evaluates those communities’ commitments to enforce them. Kenton County’s most recent assessment came earlier this year when ISO personnel visited PDS and met with staff in its building codes administration department.

This program assesses the risk of buildings for insurance rating purposes. Any building constructed in the year ISO classifies a community, or in a later year, is eligible for the program. Buildings in communities with classifications of 9 and lower (down to 1) receive a rating credit. A classification of 10 receives no credit. Classifications of 1–3 receive the highest credit; classifications of 4–9 receive intermediate credits.

Since 2009 when PDS was reviewed last, ISO re-evaluated its program and changed its grading system to make it more challenging to get a lower score. In the ISO grading system a 1 is exemplary and 10 needs major improvements. There are two categories of scores: commercial and residential.

“A lot of data and effort that goes into the evaluation process,” said Brian Sims, CBO, PDS’ chief building official. “It takes a good number of man hours just to collect the data and fill out the survey from. Information from our building department, zoning, GIS, engineering, PVA, and our accounting department must be submitted to complete the survey.”

The result of this year’s assessment was a 3 for PDS on commercial construction and a 4 for residential construction. These are the same ratings the agency earned in 2009 and are among the very highest granted to jurisdictions in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

“While on the outside this may seem as though no improvements have been made over the past five years,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director, “PDS maintained its scores during a period when the ratings assessment was made significantly tougher.”

Gordon says some categories are out of his staff’s hands and other local jurisdictions as the adopted building codes in the commonwealth are adopted as mini/maxi codes. That is to say that when the Legislative Research Commission adopts Kentucky’s codes, local communities by default get the score assigned to that category since they cannot make a certain section more or less stringent.

“I’m really proud of what these ratings signify for PDS and what they contribute to the communities we serve,” said Gordon. “PDS is a service organization and I can’t think of a better example of the services we provide than the financial benefits these ratings contribute to property owners.”

ISO is a provider of data, underwriting, risk management and legal/regulatory services (with special focus on community fire-protection efforts and building code effectiveness evaluation) to property-casualty insurers and other clients. The organization serves clients with offices throughout the United States, along with international operations offices in the United Kingdom, Israel, Germany, India and China. Ratings earned by rated communities can have a real world impact on insurance premiums that building and home owners pay for coverage.

To read more on ISO’s program, click here.