Islanders' fire service flap spurs insurance woe - East Valley Tribune: News

Islanders' fire service flap spurs insurance woe

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Posted: Saturday, July 26, 2008 7:38 pm | Updated: 11:08 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Nearly two years spent without fire protection caught up with Gilbert county island homeowner Mike McDevitt - eventually.

The 13-year resident of an unincorporated area near Greenfield and Queen Creek roads got a cancellation letter June 7 for his Allstate home insurance policy, because there was no fire department responsible for responding to his house.

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"I never even thought about this, but we were without protection for a year and a half or two years and it probably took them about two years to figure that out," McDevitt said.

His home was now considered to be in town class 10, meaning it's in an area with little or no fire protection. Days later, a state law forcing the Gilbert Fire Department to become the provider for the district kicked in, but McDevitt has little hope that this will help roll back his insurance rates anytime soon.

McDevitt paid $600 annually before for his homeowner's insurance. Allstate has since offered an $875 policy through a different company, Allstate Property and Casualty, set up to handle higher-risk clients.

Melissa Stoloff, a spokeswoman for Allstate, said the company was always able to issue some sort of coverage and that McDevitt shouldn't have been told otherwise.

"We certainly do apologize that he received that cancellation letter. It is a rare situation, where these county islands go back and forth between fire protections," she said.

McDevitt said he's grateful for the new policy and the fact that Allstate is cutting him a break with the $875 policy, but "they're still putting me in town class 10, which was my beef in the first place."

The message he said he's getting from the company is "we're a big machine and we don't move very fast."

Marci Sale, chairwoman of the Gilbert County Island Fire District board, said this week that she knew of one other county island resident dropped by a home insurer because of a lack of fire protection. She directed that person to her own insurance company, Farm Bureau, which she said has had no problem insuring county islanders.

McDevitt chose not to pay for coverage from the Rural/Metro Fire Department, the privately owned service that stopped responding to county islands in October 2006 for financial reasons.

As a resident of the fire district, McDevitt said he's pretty comfortable with the property tax rate recently settled upon for fire coverage in the area, about $160 per $100,000 valuation.

"It seemed a little high, but then Gilbert is probably going to respond a lot faster than Rural/Metro ever did," he said. "I'd prefer not to see an increase in my bill. It seems slightly high, but we'll deal with it."

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