Protection Class Code Lookup by Address

interior of a home damaged by fire

Owning a home is no small feat. There are a ton of things one has to keep in mind before laying down hard-earned cash on a new piece of property. A home protection class is one of these aspects of home ownership that many potential buyers have never considered before.

In this article, we’re going to go over what a home protection class is, and how best to navigate its complexities.

What Is a Home Protection Class?

A home protection class is a particular code that determines the risk factor of your home when it comes to fire damage and how much it would cost an insurance company to deal with said damage. This is determined with a code that has a 1-10 range. Each number in this range also has other sublevels to it, which only adds to the complexity. The best way to conceptualize it is class 1 is the cheapest, and class 10 is quite expensive.

To put it into perspective, if you live in an area with a 1 or 2 grading, then you’re in an area that has excellent fire protection coverage. Alternatively, if you live in an area with a 9 or 10 grade, you live in an extremely high-risk area for home-based fires. These high-risk areas are quite difficult to attain homeowners insurance for, as the risk for fire damage is so high.

How Is a Public Protection Class Calculated?

The Insurance Services Organization (ISO) estimates a home’s protection class. This group determines property and casualty insurance for automobiles as well as homes. The ISO is, effectively, an intensive database for businesses, such as commercial-grade insurance companies, to utilize when it comes to long-term risk management and planning.

To simplify, the ISO collects data nationwide about fire protection in all residential areas. It then parses it down further into various classes and provides this data to insurance companies in an easy-to-understand manner. This data is then used to determine a home’s protection class code.

How Do Insurance Companies Use ISO Data?

The bad news is that insurance companies aren’t in direct control of determining one’s protection class rate. These concerns are always handled by third parties to ensure an impartial perspective. Because of this, browsing around for different insurance providers will ultimately not change your protection class code at the end of the day. With that said, each company is different in how thoroughly they charge regarding an area’s protection class rating, so there is some potential for minimizing your costs in the long run.

Sadly, there is no protection class code lookup by address for potential homeowners to find these codes themselves. Only insurance companies have access to these databases. You can, however, call the fire department of the area you are considering investing a home in to get some information on the area’s fire protection services before making a costly decision. It’s not the most accurate way of doing things, but it’s better than mere guessing.

A Deeper Look at Public Protection Class Scores

Public protection class scores have a specific breakdown based on firefighting resources in the area that is in question. That is 50% local fire department coverage, 40% the local water supply, and 10% emergency communication services. Let’s take a look at each of these resources in greater detail.

Fire Protection

Proper fire department coverage makes up half of an area’s protection class score and for a good reason.

Fire departments come in various shapes and sizes depending on the needs of the community they reside in. A well-staffed fire department with proper training protocols and up-to-date firefighting gear can make all the difference when it comes to nipping a local fire in the bud. The more rural an area, the less likely that there will even be an official firefighting department in the first place, as these areas more often than not rely on volunteers for such tasks.

A good litmus for this protection class resource is that if one’s property isn’t relatively close to a fire hydrant, or if there’s no fire department within 10 miles of a residential area, the protection class of the community is 9 or 10 at best.

Water Supply

Other than the firefighters themselves, water is the lifeblood of fire departments everywhere. Fire hydrants, and their placement in a community, are crucial to a protection class score. The ISO also takes into consideration the types and conditions of fire hydrants in a given area, along with how evenly they are distributed. Ultimately, this is all a form of risk calculation on whether or not an area has decent enough water coverage in case one or several fires break out in an area.

Emergency Communication Services

Communication is everything in an emergency. If systems such as phones and the internet go out in an area, chaos can potentially ensue. When dispatchers can’t direct fire and other emergency services, property damage and even loss of life can be the result. Additionally, some towns and cities have relatively limited cell phone coverage and might only have landline telephones at best. This, too, can factor into an area getting a decent protection class score as well.

Protection Class Codes Matter

Risk calculation is everything when it comes to insurance companies. If a fire completely destroys a home, an insurance company must determine if rebuilding the property would be worth the risk. What’s to say that a fire would not happen again in the exact location due to poor fire hazard management or improper telecommunications due to being in a rural area?

While it’s true that homeowners insurance companies can charge a higher premium for these more at-risk areas, in some cases, it still can be far too much of a long shot for them even to consider insuring a home in the first place.

Protection class codes can give an indication of the overall safety of an area. That said, these codes can change depending on whether or not a community makes improvements over a period of time. The ISO updates its ratings for all locations annually and will factor in whether or not an area has made improvements in fire safety, telecommunications, and water access. That said, protection class codes can also lower in a community over time if these essential services are left to stagnate or even degrade completely.


One’s protection class for their home will, ultimately, affect their homeowner’s insurance rates in the long run. The best way to find out is via one’s state insurance authorities. Homeowners don’t have much of a say in their protection class, but there are ways you can lower your overall homeowners’ insurance despite that fact.

How can one do this? One of the best solutions is to know your potential home’s area before considering buying property. You can accomplish this with’s reverse address search engine; while it doesn’t allow you to lookup protection class codes by address, you can find loads of information about people living in a specific area. It can give you an idea of what to expect when it comes to your homeowner concerns if you end up purchasing a house in the area you are searching in. With a bit of foresight and planning, you can save yourself some grief in the long run.