Insurance companies consider a variety of factors when quoting the cost of homeowners insurance, including the age and size of your home, square footage, and outdoor play equipment. But they also consider your home’s protection class.
If your home’s protection class is something you haven’t considered yet, you’re not alone. Many homeowners aren’t sure what a protection class is, let alone how to find information about it for their home, but this is essential to most home insurance policies. Here’s what you need to know about protection classes and how they affect your home insurance.
What’s a home protection class?
A home protection class is a grade given to homes by Insurance Services Office Inc. (ISO) based primarily on the home’s proximity to the community’s fire protection services.
Homeowners in communities with better public fire protection services tend to have a better protection class rating and pay lower insurance premiums.
Read More: How to Find the Best Homeowners Insurance
What’s a protection class code?
A protection class code is the grade the ISO gives to a home as part of the Public Protection Classification program (PPC). Protection classes range from 1 to 10. Class 1 indicates the best level of fire protection available, while Class 10 indicates the worst level of protection or none at all. “Fire protection class” is another name for a protection class.
The Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS) uses points to rate the area’s fire suppression program, considering factors like the number of fire departments, access to fire hydrants, and emergency communications systems. The ISO refers to the FSRS point system to determine classes. The more points a community earns from these different evaluations, the better its protection class rating.
Why does a fire protection class matter?
The protection class code system helps communities understand and evaluate their public fire-protection services. It also helps insurers determine the risk level certain homes have when it comes to fire damage.
As a homeowner, you want the best protection class, Class 1. This not only means that your home is well protected against fire but can also lead to lower home insurance premiums. Having a lower protection class, however, can increase your premiums or make it harder to get insurance altogether.
How is the Public Protection Classification rated?
The FSRS issues a point range from 0 to 105.5, according to the features and performance of an area’s fire protection program. The FSRS uses three main areas of a community’s fire suppression system to help determine how many points are given:
Additionally, there’s a Community Risk Reduction section that acknowledges community efforts to prevent losses through means such as advanced fire loss protection and fire investigation.
|Public Protection Classification (PPC)
|Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS)
|90.00 or more
|80.00 to 89.99
|70.00 to 79.99
|60.00 to 69.99
|50.00 to 59.99
|40.00 to 49.99
|30.00 to 39.99
|20.00 to 29.99
|10.00 to 19.99
|0.00 to 9.99
Factors that determine your PPC class
The location of your home and the community it belongs to help determine the PPC class. To assign each home’s protection class, someone from the ISO collects relevant data and calculates FSRS points according to four key factors:
Emergency communication systems: This factor considers how well the fire department receives and dispatches fire alarms. The reporting system used and the number of telecommunicators on staff relative to the size of the community are also evaluated. Communities can receive a maximum of 10 points for this factor.
Fire department: The ISO examines whether the community’s fire departments check their pumps regularly and reviews the training provided by the fire company to personnel. Communities can receive a maximum of 50 points based on the fire department evaluation.
Water supply: The ISO surveys all components of the water supply system to see whether the community has sufficient water to suppress fires. It also reviews fire hydrant inspections and counts the number of hydrants less than 1,000 feet from the representative locations. Communities can receive a maximum of 40 points for their water supply evaluation.
Community risk reduction: This section provides up to 5.5 extra points for communities that strive to proactively improve fire prevention, fire safety education, and fire investigation.
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How to find your protection class
Protection classes are created for insurance industry professionals, so the ISO doesn’t make PPC information available to policyholders or the general public. However, you still have ways to find your home’s protection class.
Protection class code lookup by address
Homeowners can do a protection class code lookup by address. Though there’s no single database for this information, you can search your state, town, or ZIP code and use the phrase “protection class code lookup by address” to get started.
Some cities even have their protection class codes listed somewhere on their official websites, including the year ISO gave the classification. For example, the PPC for La Vergne, Tennessee, is Class 3, and it was issued in 2016.
Your state’s department of insurance website has information about protection classes, too. Contact the department by phone or visit the website to find your community’s classification. The Texas Department of Insurance, for example, has a breakdown of the class ratings by area. The protection classes in large cities in Texas range from 1 to 2, while small towns have ratings from 4 to 7.
You can also get information on your protection class by contacting your insurance company or agent, local fire chiefs, or a community official.
Finding home insurance for protection class 10
PPC ratings range from 1 to 10. If your home is located in a Class 10 area, it means your community doesn’t meet the ISO fire suppression standards. Some insurance companies won’t allow you to purchase home insurance for Class 10 homes.
If you have a Class 10 home and need insurance, here are some steps you can take:
Shop around for insurance companies by gathering quotes online. This is the easiest way to narrow down the best coverage options for your needs since you can submit your address and find insurers that will cover a Class 10 home.
Reach out to your local fire station or community officials to encourage them to make fire suppression improvements.
Just because your home has a Class 10 code doesn’t mean it’s uninsurable. Insurance companies weigh factors differently from one another when determining policy premiums, and not all insurers use ISO. Some companies may prefer to calculate your insurance premiums based on your home’s distance from a fire station and the number of losses in your ZIP code.
Read More: Homeowners Insurance for Fire-Prone Areas
How does the protection class affect home insurance premiums?
Many insurance companies use protection class information to determine the quality of community fire protection efforts, which directly impacts your homeowners insurance premiums. If a community doesn’t have good fire suppression efforts, its protection class code will reflect this. This lets insurers know that the risk of loss due to fire is greater.
Insurers can then choose to increase the premium, but it all depends on that specific insurer’s underwriting guidelines and methodology used when calculating insurance costs.
Insurance companies that use ISO tend to offer lower rates to homes that have a better protection class, so even if your home is Class 4 or 5, you’ll likely see a lower premium than if it were Class 8 or 9.
How to improve your protection class
Improving your protection class is possible, but it’s not always the simplest process, since the reason for your community’s ranking is usually out of your control. But you can try a few options, such as:
Contact community leaders or attend town hall meetings to raise the topic of improving emergency communication systems, water supply systems, and more.
Contact your local fire department and ask whether they’re making efforts to increase the city’s PPC.
Ask a city official to contact ISO to request a re-evaluation if your community’s officials have taken steps to improve water supply and fire protection. ISO’s mitigation specialists can be reached at 1 (800) 444-4554.
Protection class lookup FAQs
Many factors can affect the cost of homeowners insurance, including its protection class. Here are answers to so commonly asked questions about insurance and protection classes.
The Insurance Services Office (ISO) determines a protection class for a home according to its address or ZIP code to help insurance companies assess risks associated with insuring the property. Unfortunately, there’s no official protection class lookup tool, since the data is primarily used for insurance.
An ISO code is the number assigned to your home based on its fire protection assessment. The codes range from 1 to 10, with Class 1 being the best level of fire suppression protection and Class 10 being the worst.
It’s not always easy to find the protection class code for your home, but you can try looking it up online or checking your city’s official website. If you live in a large city or town that covers multiple ZIP codes, you’ll want to focus on locating the PPC code for your specific ZIP code. You can also try contacting your realtor, insurance provider, or a city or fire official in your community.
Yes, an insurance fire protection class can change if the community is re-evaluated and the ISO finds that it meets more of its qualifications. This can include an improved water supply, better fire protection services, and even intentional community efforts to decrease risks.
The ISO provides protection class information to insurance companies. From there, insurance companies determine how to apply the information to premiums.
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- Verisk. "PPC Program." Accessed January 25, 2023
- Verisk. "Scores and PPC Ratings." Accessed January 25, 2023
- Verisk. "Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS) Overview." Accessed January 25, 2023
- City of La Vergne Fire Rescue Department. "ISO Rating." Accessed January 25, 2023
- Verisk. "How Does PPC Information Affect Individual Insurance Policies?." Accessed January 25, 2023
- Texas Department of Insurance. "FAQ: Public Protection Classification." Accessed January 25, 2023
- Verisk. "Your Community’s PPC Survey." Accessed January 25, 2023