Protection class in homeowners insurance: what it is and how to do a lookup

Have you ever taken a moment to read your home insurance policy?—There is a small part written ‘Protection Class’ on the front page, followed by a number. This number is quite essential as it determines how much premium you pay for your home insurance. 

There are over 139 million houses in the US, each requiring a protection class rating. The lower the number, the better the protection class and vice versa. But, it’s best to start by defining ‘Protection Class’ before delving deeper into it. 

What Is an Insurance Protection Class?

The insurance protection class carries a rating of 1 to 10. It’s given by ISO (Insurance Services Office) to every home in the US. If you hope to insure your home, you must get this rating. 1 is the best protection class rating, and 10 is the worst. 

This is the ‘Fire Protection Class’ as it’s known in other circles. There are a few key pieces of information that help determine your house protection class. These include:

  • Distance of the nearest Fire department
  • The nearest source of water to put out a fire
  • What equipment the nearest Fire Department has

You can rejoice when your house has a rating of 1. It means it’s within the best parameters of the three crucial details that dictate the protection class rating. A home with a class 1 rating ends up paying fewer premiums for home insurance. 

How Does an Insurance Protection Class Affect My Rate?

Insurance protection class is quite crucial when taking out a home insurance policy. That is the rating written on the front page of your policy document. Still, even if you don’t read the policy document, it’s essential to know your class rating. 

Remember, the lower the rate, the less expensive your premium. So, try and find out why your rate is higher if that’s the case. Grasping the meaning of protection class is crucial for every homeowner. You can consult a protection class chart to understand better what the number means. 

Frankly, many factors determine the rates of a homeowner’s insurance. Some insurance companies have varying risk levels and require the PPC (Public Protection Class). Still, it’s best to understand what protection class ratings such as 3, 7, 9, and 10 mean. 

Every person who has a home with a rating of 1 or 2 is in the best fire protection class database. It means there’s a good water source and a nearby Fire department with everything they need to put out a sudden fire. Houses in such a community pay a low premium for their insurance. 

However, those in an area with protection class 9 or 10 aren’t so lucky. These homes fall under areas with very little fire protection. It means the houses are at a higher risk of getting gutted by fire before any firefighters arrive on the scene to put it out. 

How is Public Protection Class Determined?

The ISO is in charge of determining each home’s protection class. Verisk owns the ISO brand. In the US, Verisk and ISO are the main data sources for casualty and property insurance. 

In the category of casualty and property, they offer car and home insurance. ISO is what your insurance company will use to evaluate the risk of your home before assigning you a protection class. Calculating risk is by far one of the most critical undertakings of an insurance company. 

The only way for insurance to get accurate premiums is to get specific data. It requires a detailed evaluation of a homeowner’s likelihood to post a claim brought on by the fire. 

ISO does the entire crucial data gathering in regards to existing fire protection capabilities. Once ISO gathers all the information, it forwards it to the insurance company. The insurance company uses the information to create classes for different communities based on the ISO data. 

The minute a homeowner sends in an insurance application; the insurance company uses the classifications to determine Public Protection Class (PPC). This is part of the information insurance requires to calculate the premium. 

Every policy document requires the ISO mark on the front page. If not, that might be a red flag warranting further investigation before you sign the document. 

Fire Protection Class Codes

ISO uses 10 categories to rank fire protection classes in a given area. 3 factors help determine the rating of a house in a community. These are the nearest Fire department, the quality of the Fire Department, and the nearest water supply. 

When it comes to ratings, 1 and 2 are the best. These can make it easier to negotiate a lower premium for your home. But, the worst are 9 and 10. With a 9 and 10 rating, the community isn’t protected against fires and is considered high risk. 

PPC (Public Protection Class)FSRS (Fire Suppression Rating Schedule)
Class 190.00 or more
Class 280.00 to 89.99
Class 370.00 to 79.99
Class 460.00 to 69.99
Class 550.00 to 59.99
Class 640.00 to 49.99
Class 730.00 to 39.99
Class 820.00 to 29.99
Class 910.00 to 19.99
Class 100.00 to 9.99

What Protection Class is My House In?

After learning how ISO determines protection class and the different ratings, you can understand your house rating. Knowing your rating can help you understand why you pay such a low or high premium for home insurance in that area. 

Information about the rating of a certain house isn’t available to the general public. ISO isn’t under any obligation to make the PPC data readily available to any person who needs it. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t get the information if you need to do so. 

How to Find Your Protection Class

However, one challenge you face is that there isn’t a single database with the information. Searching for the PPC rating needs you to seek information for a specific state, city, or town. Another way is using lookup by zip code to perform a protection lookup. 

When you find the rating, you can also see when ISO gave the rating. Start at the Department of Insurance in your state, which has the right PPC rating information. Other people who can help you out with this information are the fire chief of the Fire Department in the area, the insurance company, or community leaders/officials. 

Examples of protection classes are:

  1. In New York, Johnson City has a PPC rating of 2. 
  2. Auburn City has a Class 1 PPC rating
  3. The city of Waco in Texas has a Class 1 rating

Fire Protection Class 9 & 10

As mentioned above, houses with class 1 and 2 ratings are better off. They are in areas with the best Fire Departments and access to a water supply. The opposite is true for any home with a PPC rating of 9 and 10. These houses are in the worst communities when it comes to the fire protection class code. 

Indeed, protection 9 and 10 are the ‘unprotected’ homes that find it hard to get insured. A homeowner in this area can find it hard to get an insurance company willing to insure them. Class 9 means the location has a Fire department with reasonable equipment but lacks an adequate water supply. 

As for Class 10, the community doesn’t check any of the boxes. It doesn’t have any of the resources necessary for fast and effective fire suppression if it occurs. These are the ‘unprotected’ houses that don’t get insurance coverage or can access some but have to pay high premiums. 

Can I Improve My Protection Class?

While it’s hard for classes 9 and 10 to get insurance covers, it’s not impossible. The only issue is they have to pay hefty premiums to get good coverage. As for other classes from 3 to 8, there are ways you can improve your protection class. 

However, this isn’t an overnight undertaking and might take time to accomplish. You need so many resources to change the class rating of a community, including improving the infrastructure. Requirements for such change include a Fire Department with top-notch equipment and staff. 

Also, you have to bring in a good water supply in the area. That means working with various government departments to effect these massive changes in the area. 

It’s also crucial to improve your home by trimming any trees or bushes near it, installing a smoke detector, and getting rid of unnecessary structures that can become a potential fire hazard. 

Final Takeaway

Protection class is quite crucial when you want to apply for home insurance, and it’s determined by the ISO protection class codes. This gives your home a rating on how effective it is to combat a fire in the area. 

Most places with the best PPC rating have a good Fire department with all the equipment and personnel they need. In addition, the area where the house is has an adequate supply of water. 

These classes range from 1 to 10, with 1 being the best and 10 the worst. Homes with class 9 and 10 ratings find it hard to get home insurance coverage. If they get an insurance company willing to insure them, the homeowner has to pay a hefty premium. Do you know your protection class rating? Let’s know in the comment section below.