Don’t leave safety to pancakes

Jon Godfread, N.D. Insurance Commissioner, Bismarck

There’s a saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When you purchase insurance, you’re preparing for when the unexpected happens. Suppose you’re involved in a car accident or house fire. In that case, you need insurance coverage to pay for the damage and treatment of any injuries. Purchasing insurance is a proactive move, and so is investing in community resources that prevent and lessen the effects of the unexpected.

In 2022, fire departments and districts across North Dakota responded to 48,349 incidents, with 2,751 being fires, according to the State Fire Marshal. One-third of those were structure fires, including homes and businesses. Over $46.2 million in property was lost due to fires in 2022. To best serve our communities, these local departments need to be given the best tools and training to do their jobs.

North Dakota consumers pay property insurance premiums on their homeowners, renters, and other lines of insurance. Depending on the amount of premiums collected in the state, insurance companies turn over a small percentage to the Insurance Department. These are then disbursed to fire districts and departments across the state. However, state law limits how much can be sent to fire departments. Whatever remains of the taxes are turned over to the General Fund, the state’s general checkbook. 

In 2019, the State Auditor released a report that noted property insurance premiums could be lowered if more funding was given to local fire districts. Property insurance premiums may be based on a city or fire district’s ISO rating, which scores how prepared an area is to manage fires. That means you could pay less for property and homeowners’ insurance by having a more trained and equipped fire department. 

The North Dakota Legislature began its 80-day session in early January. By passing Senate Bill 2211, your local representatives in Bismarck can give fire districts the tools they need to protect all of us better. From state-of-the-art equipment in LaMoure to advanced training in Killdeer and everywhere in between, we can better protect our communities and families. Simply relying on pancake feeds and raffles to fund our safety isn’t going to cut it.

Funding for first responders has never been more critical, including our volunteer fire services. These men and women volunteer to protect our property, help save lives and protect our loved ones. At the very least, we should send the dollars we as consumers pay in dedicated insurance premiums back to those men and women on the front lines. Our local fire departments mean so much to our communities and the safety of our families. SB 2211 is our opportunity to put our money where it belongs at the local fire department. Please join me in supporting SB 2211.


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