The Little Number with a Big Impact – Fire Protection Classification

September 11, 2018

If you own a home, you’ve probably noticed that homeowners insurance premiums seem to be higher in areas like the San Juan Islands than they are in larger towns or cities. But why? Well, it’s due in great part to something called fire protection classification.

What is fire protection classification?

Basically, fire protection classification is a numeric value assigned to your home that indicates the level of fire response available in your neighborhood – things like how long it would take for the fire department to get to you, the amount of personnel and resources available to the department, and your area’s water supply system. In other words, it rates on a scale of 1-10 how likely it would be for your home to become a total loss to the insurance company in the event of a fire. A rating of 1 is considered excellent, while a 9 or 10 means you are essentially “unprotected.”

How is my fire protection class determined?

If you live within a city, your fire protection class is based upon the city’s class. If you live outside of city limits, though, your rates are based upon the county’s class, with two important factors:

  1. Whether your home is located within 5 miles of a responding fire station, and
  2. Whether there is a functional fire hydrant within 1000 feet of your house.

If your home is not within 5 miles of a responding fire department then your home is assigned a protection class 10. If your home is within 5 miles of a responding fire department but there is no hydrant within 1000 feet, then your home is assigned a protection class 9.

Good news!

A recent revision to classifications, mostly at the northern end of San Juan Island, means that some homes have improved by a level or two. Homeowners affected by this change may potentially see their premiums lowered by hundreds of dollars, especially those moving from a 9 or 10 to a 7 or 8.

As soon as we were notified of the changes, our agents manually updated all homeowners, renters, and dwelling fire policies with the new fire protection class codes. If your home is one that saw a class change, you will get a letter in the mail from our office, as well as pro-rated return premium from your insurance carrier (some companies may take more time than others).

There is nothing that you need to do – but as always, if you have any questions, we are here for you! Stop by our office in Friday Harbor or give us a call at (360) 378-2949.


Photo by Sam Beebe, https://www.flickr.com/photos/sbeebe/7974757077. Unedited.