Vacant Property Insurance Eligibility: Why Fire Station Staffing Matters

In the insurance industry, even the simplest project or property features can have a major impact on coverage eligibility. When clients come to their insurance agent for a policy to protect their vacant or tenant-occupied property, a number of questions arise to help you determine whether the property is eligible for coverage. One of the many seemingly insignificant details that come into question is the property’s proximity to a manned fire station. But, why does this matter? And, why must a fire station be specifically “manned” or “staffed” in order for a property to be eligible?

To answer these questions, consider that the staffing of a fire station is typically classified in one of the following ways: staffed (or manned), volunteer, or a combination of staffed and volunteer. So, even if your client’s property is within a certain distance — typically five or six miles — of a fire station, that doesn’t mean the property is safe from fire hazards.

This element of the property is considered both part of and separate from the Protection Class, which is another important factor in property insurance eligibility. Protection Class is typically designated as a number between 1 and 10, and determined by a combination of three factors: fire department quality (equipment, staffing, training and location), water supply system (including condition, distribution, inspection, maintenance of fire hydrants), and communication systems (fire alarm response, telephone systems and dispatching quality).

Because a large proportion of residential buildings are made of wood frame construction, the risk of a total loss is very high once a fire starts. Additionally, in vacant property undergoing minor renovations, the risk of spontaneous combustion due to improper disposal of paint or solvent-soaked rags can be a major concern. According to the United States Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), fires caused by spontaneous combustion or chemical reaction contributed to 3,200 structure fires.

Exact response time to a fire-related emergency varies by region, but a fire station staff partly or entirely composed of paid firefighters is considered to be more readily able to respond. While volunteer firefighters often receive the same training as their paid counterparts, the difference in property eligibility is due to how often a volunteer fire station is staffed and ready to respond to emergency situations. Staffed (manned) and combination fire stations often have a continuous presence of firefighters, while all-volunteer fire stations seldom do.

Having the answers to clients’ eligibility-related questions before they can think to ask enables you to feel more confident discussing insurance options with clients and increases your credibility. To help you continue to prepare for your next property insurance conversation, download our free resource 10 Tips for Quoting Vacant and Rental Structure Insurance.

This is intended as a general description of certain types of insurance and services available to qualified customers. Your policy is the contract that specifically and fully describes your coverage. The description of the policy provisions gives a broad overview of coverages and does not revise or amend the policy.

Tips for Quoting Vacant and Rental Structure Insurance
To learn more about what to look for when choosing a vacant or rental structure insurance provider, download our free tip sheet 10 items to Consider Before Quoting Vacant and Rental Structure Insurance.

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