What Is a Homeowners Insurance Protection Class?
A homeowners insurance protection class is a score from one to 10 that ranks how well a community can prevent and suppress a fire, with one being the best class. Since a protection class indicates a community's risk against fires — how well-trained the firefighters are and available water reserves, for example — home insurers often factor it when calculating premiums. Generally, the better your community's score, the lower your insurance rates.
Keep reading to learn how community protection classes work and why homeowners should care.
What Is a Homeowners Insurance Protection Class?
A homeowner's insurance protection class refers to the score assigned to a community based on how well-prepared it is against fire emergencies. Protection classes are ranked from one to 10 — one being the best score. A score of 10 indicates the community does not meet the minimum criteria for fighting fires.
Protection classes are listed under the Public Protection Classification (PPC) system, which is published in the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS). The Insurance Services Office (ISO) sends agents to do a field survey to rank a community's firefighting capabilities against this criteria. This data is then used by insurance carriers when determining premiums on homeowners insurance policies.
(Protection class is also referred to as "fire protection code;" "public protection class;" and "fire protection class.")
What Do Homeowners Need To Know About Protection Class?
The better your community's protection class rating, the likelihood you'll score a lower premium on your homeowners insurance policy. Insurance industry professionals rely on protection class data provided by the ISO since it can suggest the likelihood of future claims related to fire damages.
Excellent scores indicate that the firefighters are properly trained, departments are well-equipped and there are sufficient water reserves to combat fire perils. For insurance carriers, good fire prevention systems also indicate a decreased likelihood of fire-related claims (and subsequent payouts). Therefore, your insurance carrier will consider the fire-risk exposure of where you live.
If your community's PPC score improves, you'll likely see lower home insurance premiums to reflect your lower risk.
If your community PPC score declines, you'll likely see higher insurance rates to reflect your higher risk.
Communities can earn up to 105.5 points when they meet minimum criteria that aids in fire prevention and suppression. The points follow a tiered system and whichever tier you fall within is your community's protection class.
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
How Is the Public Protection Classification Rated?
There are four main criteria used in assessing a community's fire protection services:
Emergency communication systems
Community risk reduction
Each category has a cap on how many points can be earned.
Checks if fire departments are sufficiently staffed, properly trained and well-equipped. Also considers the location and number of fire companies throughout the community.
Inspects the components of a community's water supply system, including the functioning of fire hydrants, the availability of alternative water supply sources and the amount of available water for fire suppression beyond daily maximum consumption.
Emergency Communication Systems
Assesses the sophistication of a community's emergency communications, reporting and dispatch systems, including the number of telecommunicators, computer-aided dispatch facilities.
Community Risk Reduction
Similar to extra credit, communities earn bonus points for additional safety measures related to fire prevention and response. Points are also earned for public fire safety education efforts.
Can an Insurance Fire Protection Class Change?
A community's protection class improves or declines based on its current firefighting capabilities. However, there is little that individual homeowners can do to change their rating. Improvements to an area's fire suppression program largely depend on fire departments and municipal fire protection efforts.
If your community is proactively improving its fire protections (as it should), there are several ways to earn more points, such as installing alternative water supply systems and having more firefighters per shift. Ensuring those firefighters are properly trained and equipped is essential, too.
For example, for your community to move from class 10 (the worst score) to class nine, your local fire department's equipment should meet the following requirements:
At least one apparatus with a permanently mounted pump
The pump must have a rated capacity of 250 gallons per minute
200-gallon water tank (that must be transported to all fire-alarm structures)
Improve Your Home's Fire Defenses
While improving your community's protection class is a significant undertaking, there are steps you can take to protect your own home against fires. Fire and lightning incidents accounted for 25.1% of property damages in 2019. To mitigate your potential loss, you can:
Have a fire extinguisher, bucket and hose accessible for fire emergencies
Store flammable liquids and materials from fire sources
Keep your trees and shrubs trimmed
Re-roof with fire-resistant materials, like metal or clay
Remove debris from your roof and rain gutters that could catch fire
Install dual-paned tempered glass windows to help prevent breakage from high heat
Use a non-flammable screen when lighting your fireplace
Shop for Homeowners Insurance
Purchasing a home is one of the biggest steps you'll take in life, and you'll want to ensure that your property and belongings are properly protected. Fortunately, most homeowners insurance policies insure against fire damage, burglaries, water damage and more.
SmartFinancial can help you choose the right homeowners policy that balances your coverage needs and budget. Our free service compares quotes from hundreds of insurance carriers to pair you with a local insurance agent offering the best option. Enter your zip code below to get started.
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