Protection Categories and Texas Homeowner Insurance

There are 10 classes or categories of protection (PC) according to the Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO). Some insurance companies’ risk avoidance prompts them to stay away from writing protection classes of homeowners insurance 8-10. It’s important for homeowners to know their protection category prior to searching for new or more competitive home insurance rates.

These classes are used to rank a city or town’s fire protection services considering three important factors:

1. Quality of Fire Department. The town’s fire department, equipment (including fire trucks, hoses, and ladders), fire fighter training, and distribution of firefighting company distribution in the area represents approximately half of the criteria for the town’s classification.

2. Water Supply. The town’s water system, including its condition, inspection, resident distribution, and maintenance process (including fire hydrants and assessments of how much water is needed to put out a fire) is approximately 40 percent of the classification.

3. Fire Alarms and Communications Systems. Dispatch system quality, telephone systems (including lines and staff available to support them) represent 10 percent of the protection classification.

PC Ratings Importance

The Protection Classification rating system ranges from best (1) to worst (10). The community’s overall ability to protect residents from fire is reflected by this rank:

• Classes 9 or 10 are considered unprotected because inadequate water hydrants or firefighters are present in these communities. A class 8 homeowner may not have hydrants that are considered close enough but if a fire occurs in a class 9 or 10 area, it may take too long for the closest fire department to respond.

Almost every home insurance company uses the ISO protection classification system when underwriting home insurance policies. Insurers are likely to use proprietary processes when calculating their insureds’ policy rates.

Rising Homeowner Insurance Rates

High homeowner insurance premiums are frustrating. Some companies raise premium rates each year even when the homeowner has not previously filed a claim. However, it’s important to understand why insurance companies raise premiums.

Insurance is one of those financial services every homeowner must have. Even though the homeowner might never use it, homeowners insurance protects against a host of potential financial catastrophes.

Let’s say a homeowner pays $1,200 every year for homeowners insurance in Texas. The monthly mortgage is about $1,000. Paying the homeowner insurance premium is like making an additional mortgage payment every year, and that cost can pinch many families.

However, a fire can happen. A tornado can demolish the house. Roofs are damaged after a hail storm. The homeowner faces much higher costs to replace the home and its contents or replace an expensive roof.

Cheap Homeowners Insurance in Texas

Many home insurers don’t like to insure higher protection classes such as PC for homeowners insurance 8-10. Larger cities with many fire departments tend to be PC2.

Some insurance companies won’t underwrite PC classes 8-10. If they decide to write a lower PC policy, they might not insure for replacement cost.

However, cash value policies (ACV policies) can cost less than replacement cost coverage. Lower PC rates can sometimes actually help insureds pay less in homeowner insurance premiums.


Homeowner insurance companies in Texas consider potentially harmful elements on their insureds’ property, including PC rank, dogs, ponds/pools/rivers, or recreational equipment like trampolines. The insurer typically charges higher premiums when these conditions exist to offset their potential risk.

Beware Health Care Provider Backdoor Rate Increases

One important consideration with which health care provider you choose when you are looking for health insurance in Texas is by how much they seek to increase their rates. The website provides an effective, if not complete, rate review tool. This tool points fingers and names names or any plans and providers who have filed an official request for a rate hike of ten percent or in excess of that amount for 2016.

In the state of Texas, out of 15 carriers providing health insurance in Texas, an astonishing eight have requested such usurious double digit price increases to their plans, representing over 53% of the state exchange carriers. This is bad enough, but other health insurance in Texas providers have simply decided to throw in the towel on the statewide and national insurance markets. Time Insurance wanted rate increases of as much as 65% in the Lone Star State. Needless to say, they could not get them, so their parent company Assurant Health is packing up its individual insurance policy bags nationwide and sailing into the sunset. They will not be participating in the next open enrollment. It is a bad omen of things to come for the health insurance in Texas market.

Among the 15 remaining carriers still offering health insurance for Texas plans, the ones who did not ask for a greedy and grasping rate increase of 10 percent or more are not listed on the rate review tool found at the website. There are even carriers who asked for rate decreases out there, though suspiciously, not one of them offered health insurance in Texas. The rates and rate increases are not yet final. Texas does not review the proposed premiums for health insurance in Texas exchange plans, along with four other states. This means that the national Health and Human Services will review the submitted health insurance in Texas rates.

The encouraging news is that the overwhelming majority of Texas state exchange members receive government subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. The kicker is that the subsidy amounts rise as the benchmark plan price changes. This means that if enrollees are willing to shop around to find and get the plan with the maximum value for their money, then probably the higher subsidy amounts will offset the majority of the increasing rates in the majority of cases. This is not guaranteed of course, and will not be the end result in all cases either.

The grasping insurance companies seeking over 10% rate increases for some or all of their health insurance in Texas plans are as follows: Aetna Life Insurance, All Savers Insurance, Allegian Insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, Cigna Health and Life Insurance, Golden Rule Insurance, Humana Health Plan of Texas, Scott and White Health Plan, SHA – better known as the First Care Health Plans, Time Insurance Company, and United Healthcare Life Insurance. All of these guilty as charged firms have filed for increases ranging from 10% – 99% with an average increase of over 15%. Texans consider yourselves warned.

Poor credit scores increase auto insurance rates in Texas

Texas residents may not realize how much their credit scores impact their auto insurance rates. However, the truth is that a weak credit rating can raise the cost of auto insurance more than a drunk driving conviction in the Lone Star State, according to Consumer Reports. Those who live in big cities such may see hikes in their premiums of auto insurance Houston be impacted the most as it is a major city in Texas.

Most states allow auto insurance companies to use credit scores to set rates. The companies claim that a person’s credit history is a better indicator of future claims than their driving record. They claim it is no different than using an individual’s gender, age or marital status when pricing quotes. While consumer advocates have long argued against the practice, many insurance regulators and insurance groups have sided with auto insurance companies.

Consumer Reports recently analyzed just how much credit scoring raises auto insurance rates, and the results were shocking. The magazine examined over 2 billion auto insurance quotes from every area of the United States and found that Texas consumers pay a particularly high price for poor credit.

For example, a single adult with a good driving record and excellent credit pays around $1,338 per year in Texas. Meanwhile, a single adult with a good driving record and poor credit pays a whopping $3,426. In a stunning comparison, Consumer Reports also investigated how much a drunk driving conviction impacts an individual’s auto insurance rates. It found that people with DWIs were quoted prices around $1,000 lower than people with weak credit scores.

Texas places few regulations on the auto insurance market. As a result, the state saw premium rates increase by 70.5 percent between 1988 and 2010, which is the highest in the nation. In contrast, California, which doesn’t allow auto insurance credit scoring, saw premium rates decrease by 0.3 percent over the same period of time.

Nearly two-thirds of Texas residents have credit ratings below 700, which ranks the state 47th in the country. Auto insurance rates in Texas are currently the 10th-highest in the nation. An insurance survey determined that the state’s premium rates were 4.4 percent above the national average. It also found that rates in Dallas County were the highest the state, mostly due to weak credit scores.

Those with good credit might believe credit scoring doesn’t affect them. However, Consumer Reports noted price differences of up to $300 between Texans with “good” credit and those with “excellent” credit.

Auto insurance industry trade groups claim credit scores are fair game because they are an accurate predictor of car accident claims. They also point out that consumers are free to shop around and get the best price for their individual circumstances.

According to industry experts, Texas consumers can save hundreds of dollars by choosing the right auto insurance company. Each insurer uses a different formula to attach risk to drivers. The formulas are top secret, so the only way consumers will find the best deal is to request quotes from several different companies and carefully compare rates. Texans are encouraged to use online resources to find the auto insurance company that best meets their individual needs.