Houston’s new ISO rating could lead to higher insurance rates for homeowners, businesses

HOUSTON – Channel 2 Investigates has learned for the first time in 17 years, the city of Houston’s so-called Public Protection Classification rating is changing for the worse.

The new ISO rating 1/1X could lead to higher insurance rates for both homeowners and businesses.

What is an ISO Rating?

The Insurance Services Office periodically details studies of municipalities to determine a city’s ability to answer and dispatch 911 calls, apparatus response times, water availability, and a host of other factors that go into figuring fire protection. That rating is then used by many insurance carriers to help determine rates for homeowners and business structure insurance.

Why did Houston’s rating drop?

Both Houston Fire Chief Pena and Mayor Sylvester Turner argue that the 1/1x rating does not represent a rating drop but rather a more granular rating system that was instituted in 2014. This is the first time since the new rating system that Houston has been rated. However, ISO still issues a straight Class 1 designation, which is more desirable. And despite a press release from the City touting a “Top Fire Protection Rating,” this is not the case.

Who will pay more?

It is unclear who, if anyone, will pay more due to the new ‘1/1X’ rating. But homes and businesses that are not within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant within city limits will fall into the new “1x” designation, which is a different insurance classification.

It is not yet clear how many people, homes and businesses fall into this category.

What’s next?

Pena and the mayor noted that the city of Houston is still a “Class 1” city. However, acknowledging room for improvement, Pena said on Friday that he will meet with the State Fire Marshal to determine where the city could use more fire hydrants.

The date of this meeting is not clear but the goal is to regain a full Class 1 designation and drop the “1/1x” designation.