How do ISO fire ratings affect your home insurance rates?

The lower your community’s ISO fire rating, the cheaper your home insurance premiums will be.

Pat Howard 1600

By

Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Managing Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Pat Howard is a managing editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where he specializes in homeowners insurance. His work and expertise has been featured in MarketWatch, Real Simple, Fox Business, VentureBeat, This Old House, Investopedia, Fatherly, Lifehacker, Better Homes & Garden, Property Casualty 360, and elsewhere.

Expert reviewed

Expert reviewed

This article has been reviewed by a licensed Policygenius expert to ensure that sources, statistics, and claims meet our standard for accurate and unbiased advice.

Learn more about oureditorial review process.

By

Michael Reynolds, CSRIC®, AIF®, CFT-I™

Michael Reynolds, CSRIC®, AIF®, CFT-I™

Financial Advisor

Michael Reynolds, CSRIC®, AIF®, CFT-I™, is a financial advisor, principal and founder of Elevation Financial, host of the weekly personal finance podcast Wealth Redefined®, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

Updated|2 min read

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our editorial standards and how we make money.

The cost of homeowners insurance is largely determined by the risks your home is exposed to, including its likelihood of catching fire and the reliability of your local fire department to put it out. 

To help insurance companies gauge this risk, the Insurance Services Office (ISO) gives ratings to every community based on the dependability of their fire departments and water supply. The lower your community’s ISO fire rating, the cheaper your home insurance premiums will be.

What is an ISO fire rating?

ISO fire ratings are scores given to individual communities that are based on how equipped the area is to respond to fire emergencies. The two biggest factors the ISO takes into consideration are the reliability of your area’s fire department and the local water supply.

Ready to shop home insurance?

Start calculator

How are ISO fire ratings determined?

Each community’s ISO fire rating is determined by looking at the four key components that play a role in your town’s ability to both prevent and respond to fire emergencies:

ISO fire rating component

What it means

Fire department (50%)

Measures the quality of your local fire departments, including their equipment, pump capacity, engine companies, ladder companies, training, and personnel.

Water supply (40%)

Looks at the average size, type, and installation of fire hydrants in your area, plus the quality and frequency of hydrant inspections and testing.

Emergency communications systems (10%)

Measures the quality of your community emergency response (911) systems.

Community risk reduction (5.5%)

To win bonus points, the ISO looks at anything extra your community is doing to combat fires, including fire safety education, prevention, and investigation programs.

After evaluating these four categories, the ISO totals the points and assigns a classification score between 1 and 10 — with Class 1 being the best and Class 10 being the worst

Most communities aim for an ISO fire rating between Class 1 and Class 3. Here’s how the different ratings and points break down:

ISO fire rating

Points scored

Class 1

90+

Class 2

80 to 89.99

Class 3

70 to 79.99

Class 4

60 to 69.99

Class 5

50 to 59.99

Class 6

40 to 49.99

Class 7

30 to 39.99

Class 8

20 to 29.99

Class 9

10 to 19.99

Class 10

Less than 10

How ISO fire ratings affect homeowners insurance rates

ISO fire ratings can provide communities with invaluable feedback about their fire protection services. And they also give communities incentives for having good fire departments — like lower home insurance costs. The cost of coverage in a community with a good ISO fire rating is generally lower than in a community with a bad ISO fire rating.

Just keep in mind your ISO fire rating is only one of several factors your insurance company considers when deciding whether to cover you and determining your rates. Others include: 

  • Your home’s proximity to brushfire areas

  • The area surrounding your home and whether or not it’s clear of dry foliage

  • Your home’s proximity to fire hydrants

  • Whether your home is heated by gas or electricity

  • Protective devices like fire sprinklers and centralized fire alarms

Other non-fire-related factors insurance companies look at when calculating your rates include whether you’re located in areas at high risk for:

  • Sinkholes

  • Earthquakes

  • Tornados

  • Hurricanes

  • Flooding

  • Crime or vandalism

What can I do if my community has a poor ISO fire rating?

If you live in a community with a subpar ISO fire rating and you sense that it’s negatively impacting your rates, try re-shopping your homeowners insurance to find a company that might not factor in the fire rating as much. 

Our licensed insurance experts at Policygenius can do the work for you. Simply answer a few questions about yourself and your home, and our team will get to work crunching the numbers to find the best home insurance deal you qualify for. And if you decide to switch companies, they’ll handle all of the paperwork for you.

Still having a hard time finding coverage? You might want to consider taking out a separate fire insurance policy through your state's Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan. These plans make it easier for homeowners in high-risk areas to find a policy after they've been denied coverage on the private market.

Ready to shop home insurance?

Start calculator

How do I find my home’s ISO fire rating?

Your home doesn’t have its own individual ISO fire rating — your community does. And unfortunately, the Insurance Services Office isn’t required to release these ratings to the public.

If your fire department has a decent ISO fire rating, it’s likely your local government will announce this to the public as a PR win. But otherwise, you’ll need to ask your local fire department. Just keep in mind they’re not required by law to tell you the rating — so they may or may not release this information.

Don’t have any luck? Do your own research by looking at the National Park Service’s interactive wildfire history timeline or the National Interagency Coordination Center’s wildland fire potential outlook. While these tools won’t tell you your area’s specific ISO rating, they can help give you an idea of how at risk your community is of wildfires.

Ready to shop home insurance?

Start calculator

Author

Managing Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Pat Howard

Managing Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

gray twitter icon linkgray linkedin icon link

Pat Howard is a managing editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where he specializes in homeowners insurance. His work and expertise has been featured in MarketWatch, Real Simple, Fox Business, VentureBeat, This Old House, Investopedia, Fatherly, Lifehacker, Better Homes & Garden, Property Casualty 360, and elsewhere.

Expert reviewer

Michael Reynolds, CSRIC®, AIF®, CFT-I™, is a financial advisor, principal and founder of Elevation Financial, host of the weekly personal finance podcast Wealth Redefined®, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

Questions about this page? Email us at .