A fire protection class is a grade given to a home based on the community's fire fighting abilities. It can be a major factor in determining your home insurance premium.
The protection class ranking system was created by the Insurance Services Organization (ISO) as a fire risk assessment tool. Insurance carriers consider your home’s protection class when determining your premium.
Your home's protection class depends on your community's:
The ISO evaluates this information and uses it to rank the area in one of 10 protection classes. The lower the protection class, the better the community’s fire protection.
You may never actually know your community’s protection class. The program was created for insurance industry professionals, not policyholders. But the number is still important because nearly all providers consider your protection class when calculating your home insurance premium.
Let’s say your community has a protection class of 8. This means the fire department may have a harder time extinguishing a fire at your home because it's further away from a fire department or fire hydrant. As a result, your home may suffer more damage that your insurer has to cover. Your insurer has to protect its own assets, so it may charge you more to cover your home.
Protection class 8 puts you on the bubble, but certain protection classes make getting coverage difficult:
The industry considers these essentially “unprotected” classes, and some insurers won’t cover homes in these locations. Others may, but at a price.
The ISO only shares protection classes with insurance companies and agents. However, there are a few signs that indicate your home is in a high protection class. For instance, your home could be in protection class 9 or 10 if:
If your home is in protection class 9 or 10, you may end up paying more for your insurance. Comparing policies from multiple insurance providers can help you find a more competitive rate for your coverage.
Improving your protection class is difficult. It takes a significant amount of community resources to upgrade your fire department’s equipment, staff, and training. You may be better off looking for other ways to reduce your fire risk. For instance, you might try:
Reducing your fire risk minimizes the chance of a claim, and insurance companies may offer premium discounts for it. Talk to your insurance agent to see what discounts you're eligible for.
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