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About the Company

Who we are and how we serve insurers, agents and Washington state residents.  

CEO Perspective

Engaging thought leadership on key insurance industry issues from our CEO. 

Meet the Team

Get to know the team behind WSRB’s trusted data and excellent customer service. 

Careers

Learn about the benefits of working at WSRB and apply for open positions.  

Underwriting Property

A guide to key risks in Washington state: fire, wildfire and earthquakes.


Help Center

Self-serve articles on how to use our products. Available 24/7. 

Commercial Property

Information on Loss Costs, policy rating and assessment tools 


Industry Toolkit

Links to help you work smarter and serve your customers.  

Protection Classes

The evaluation process explained from start to finish.


WSRB Blog

News on emerging risks as well as our latest products. 

Library

In-depth content on essential insurance topics.


InsuranceEDGE

Weekly newsletter covering the P&C industry, curated by our experts. 

 

WSRB and Protection Class FAQ 

Answers to common questions about WSRB and how our work affects your residents - feel free to copy this content and share it with residents
wsrb-collage-PC

What is WSRB?  

The Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau is an independent, not-for-profit organization operating in the public interest. We produce data that insurance companies covering property in Washington state can use to better understand, assess, and price fire risk.   

Accurate data from an independent source helps insurance companies evaluate risk and allows  insurance consumers to feel confident that their fire premiums are fair.   Learn more about WSRB by exploring our website. 

The criteria we use to produce data are evaluated and approved by the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC). Learn more about the OIC here. 

What is a Protection Class? 

A WSRB Protection Class (PC) is a score from 1 to 10 that represents the community-provided fire protection capabilities available at a specific property. A PC of 1 indicates exemplary fire protection capabilities are available; a PC of 10 indicates the fire protection capabilities, if any, are not sufficient to receive credit for insurance. Each community in Washington state has a PC, which is used as a starting point to determine the PC of individual properties. 

WSRB assigns a PC to each property in Washington state based on:  

  • PC of the community the property is in. 
  • Distance to a recognized, responding fire station. 
  • Distance to a standard fire hydrant. 
  • Fire-department-supplied water if the property is not near a standard fire hydrant (known as water tender operations). 

Outside of Washington state, other organizations determine PCs - you may hear names such as Public Protection Classification or ISO rating. One organization that determines PCs for several states is Insurance Services Office (ISO), a subsidiary of Verisk Analytics. Though some agents or insurance companies may even get PC data for Washington state through ISO, that data still originates from WSRB. 

Check out our Guide to Community Ratings to learn more about how the evaluation process works and how it supports fire defense and building safety.

How do PCs get used?  

Most insurance companies covering property in Washington state use WSRB data as one of several inputs to setting fire insurance premiums. Insurance companies that choose to use WSRB PC data use the PC of the individual property, not the community PC, to help set premiums. 

Fire coverage is also just one part of a standard property insurance policy. In other words, many factors affect the total premium that homeowners and commercial property owners pay.   

You may have insurance through a company that does not use WSRB PC data. If so, WSRB PC data won’t affect your insurance premium. To find out whether your insurance company uses our data, contact your agent or insurance company.  

How do PCs get determined?  

 First, a WSRB Fire Protection Analyst visits the community, evaluating the fire protection capabilities of a community based on:   

  • Fire department
  • Water supply
  • Emergency communications system
  • Fire safety control

Next, WSRB calculates the PC for each individual property in the community based on the factors listed above (community PC, distance to recognized responding fire station, distance to standard fire hydrant, and water tender operations, if applicable).  

Get an overview of how the Protection Class evaluation process works here.

Does every property in a community have the same PC?  

No. The community’s PC is the starting point for determining the PC of each property within that community. The distance to a recognized responding fire station, distance to a standard fire hydrant, and, where applicable, water tender operations, are also used to determine the property’s PC.  

A community’s PC is the best PC any property in that community can have. For example, if a community has a PC of 5, all the properties within that community will have a PC of 5 or higher; no property within that community will have a PC of 4 or lower.  

Learn more in our blog post: How WSRB Determines the Protection Class for Each Property.

What is a recognized responding fire station? 

Recognized 

For a station to be recognized, it must meet minimum staffing and equipment criteria. A fire station needs to have enough firefighters and sufficient firefighting equipment to provide effective structural fire protection.  

Responding 

Fire stations serve specific areas. You may live near a fire station that doesn’t respond to your property, most likely because it serves another fire protection district. If so, that fire station won’t count as a responding station when WSRB determines the PC for your property. 

What is a standard fire hydrant? 

A standard fire hydrant is properly installed and supplies adequate water for firefighting purposes. Fire hydrants that don’t meet minimum criteria aren’t considered standard and won’t be considered in the PC determination process. 

What are water tender operations? 

Not every property is near a standard fire hydrant. To help protect those properties, fire departments can transport water to them in a water-hauling apparatus known as a “tender.” If your community has adequate water tender operations, WSRB will account for those when determining your property’s PC.  

fire-hydrant-street-PC

Our community’s PC changed. What happens next? 

After WSRB finalizes the PC for your community and each property within it, there is a three-month notification period before that PC becomes effective. During that interval, WSRB notifies insurance companies that the PC will change, giving them time to update their policy management systems.  

Contact your agent or insurance company to ask about how and when the PC change could affect you, bearing in mind the three-month notification period. 

Please note that not all insurance companies covering property in Washington state use WSRB PC data. If you have insurance through a company that doesn’t use our data, the PC change will not affect you. To find out if your insurance company uses WSRB PC data, contact your agent or insurance company.  

I have more questions about PCs. What do I do?   

 Please contact our Customer Service team during our business hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. The number is 206-217-0101. We’re happy to answer your questions, and there’s never a fee to contact us or speak with us.