The Insurance Services Office (ISO) recently reviewed the Public Protection Classification (PPC) for Norwich, based on a major revision to the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule, and kept it a 4/10, still one of the highest PPCs in Vermont for a paid-on-call fire department and without a town-wide municipal water supply. The PPC of 4 applies to the area within 5 road miles of the fire station and the 10 to areas beyond 5 road miles from the fire station. In the areas between 5 and 7 road miles from the fire station and if the structure is within 1,000’ of a creditable water supply a new class of 10W applies.

The cost of fire insurance and a portion of the cost of homeowners’ insurance in Norwich (and all towns) are based on a PPC determined by the ISO, a service company to the insurance industry. Fifty percent of the PPC is based on the fire department, 40% on fire protection water supply and 10% on emergency communications including dispatch services.

PPCs range from a low of Class 10, meaning no protection, to a high of Class 1, the highest level of protection. Prior to 1999, Norwich received a Class 5 within the areas served by the Fire District water system, Class 9 within five road miles of the fire station and Class 10 for properties more than five road miles of the fire station. In 1999, an ISO evaluation changed the PPC in Norwich to Class 4 for properties within five road miles of the fire station and Class 10 for properties more than five road miles from the fire station. While it depends on the insurance company and the type of house construction, fire sprinklers, fire alarm systems and other considerations in general a change in the PPC from 10 to 9 results in a 32% decrease in insurance costs and from 9 to 4 a 28% decrease in insurance costs. There is little impact on homeowner’s insurance costs for reductions in the PPC below 4. The new Fire Suppression Rating Schedule became effective on July 1, 2014 in Vermont.

At the time of the 1999 change in the PPC, there were only two other towns in Vermont with better fire protection classifications, and they both had full-time personnel. In addition, there were no towns in Vermont with a better classification than Norwich for an area not served by a municipal water system. This resulted in a significant insurance premium saving for properties within five road miles of the fire station, yet outside the Fire District’s water service area.