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.

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.

PPC Scores

PPC Class

Points

1

90+

2

80.00 to 89.99

3

70.00 to 79.99

4

60.00 to 69.99

5

50.00 to 59.99

6

40.00 to 49.99

7

30.00 to 39.99

8

20.00 to 29.99

9

10.00 to 19.99

10

0.00 to 9.99

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How Is the Public Protection Classification Rated?

There are four main criteria used in assessing a community's fire protection services: 

  1. Fire departments
  2. Water supply
  3. Emergency communication systems 
  4. Community risk reduction

Each category has a cap on how many points can be earned.

Category

Max. Points

Description

Fire Departments

50

Checks if fire departments are sufficiently staffed, properly trained and well-equipped. Also considers the location and number of fire companies throughout the community.

Water Supply

40

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

10

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

5.5

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

There are steps you can take to protect your own home against fires.

Homeowners Insurance Protection Class FAQs

How does my home's protection class affect my premium?

Generally, homeowners in communities with better protection classes see lower premiums since these areas have superior fire protection efforts and systems in place. Homeowners insurance carriers typically raise premiums on areas with a higher protection class, as these policyholders are at greater risk during a fire. Protection classes are ranked from one to 10, with one being the worst score.

What is protection class 10 in insurance?

A score of ten means the community does not meet the minimum standards for properly preventing and responding to fire perils. Any building that is more than five road miles from the nearest fire station or falls in a rural area outside a city or volunteer fire department service area automatically receives a score of 10.

How do I find my protection class code?

Protection class lookup access is typically available only to insurance companies — the general public would not have access to this information. However, you may be able to learn your area's protection class by calling your insurance company, contacting your local fire department or calling The Insurance Services Office's customer service line directly.

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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