The Insurance Services Office (ISO) was established in 1971 to assist with identifying and mitigating hazard risk for insurance companies that provide coverage for public and private sector customers. It addresses specific risk information for natural catastrophes, fire-protection resources, community water systems, municipal building codes, and flood zones. ISO’s Public Protection Classification (PPC) Service evaluates the capacity of the local fire department to respond to and fight structure fires. By evaluating a community’s ability to suppress fires, ISO provides crucial information for understanding risks associated with a specific property. From these assessments, ISO develops and assigns a rating to a community, often referred to as the ISO rating.
ISO provides information on:
- buildings — size, construction, occupancies, hazards, and public and private fire protection; and
- people — fraud, criminal and public records, claims, and employment history and background.
- communities — fire protection, water systems, other critical infrastructure, building codes, and natural and man-made catastrophes;
Communities rely on ISO’s information to plan for, budget, and justify improvements in fire protection and communications infrastructure.
ISO recognizes that not all communities adopt and enforce building codes or have equally stringent building codes, nor do all communities enforce their codes with the same vigor. Yet the effectiveness of local building codes can help predict how well some structures in the community will fare in a hurricane, earthquake, or other natural disaster. ISO’s Building Code Effectiveness Classifications help distinguish the various levels of community building-code adoption and enforcement.
The concept is simple; municipalities with effective, well-enforced codes should demonstrate better loss experience when a catastrophe strikes. Buildings located in such communities, which are constructed according to current codes, should experience less severe loss.