ISO Issues National Assessment and State-by-State Evaluation of Building Codes

The report provides a comprehensive examination of building codes and their enforcement in 20,800 communities representing 87 percent of the U.S. population. 

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ISO (Jersey City, N.J.) has released the National Building Code Assessment Report on the status of the U.S. building codes, including individual assessments of each participating state. Available at, the National Building Code Assessment Report provides what ISO calls a comprehensive examination of building codes and their enforcement in 20,80 0 communities representing 87 percent of the U.S. population.

“Weather patterns and other factors are changing the impact zones of hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and earthquakes throughout the United States,” comments Robert Andrews, VP and chief field operations officer, ISO Community Hazard Mitigation. “As a result, building codes have taken on even more importance for property owners, insurers, builders, local and federal government agencies, and emergency response teams.”

The issuance of the report marks the twentieth anniversary of the Building Code Enforcement Grading Schedule (BCEGS), which ISO created to assess the building codes in effect and grade communities on both code adoption and enforcement, the vendor notes. The BCEGS program places special emphasis on mitigation of losses from natural hazards.

Comprehensive Assessment of U.S. Building Codes

“We’re commemorating the twentieth anniversary of BCEGS with this first-time report,” comments Dale Thomure, CBO, CFM, manager, ISO Community Hazard Mitigation. “Although our community-specific data is routinely used by property insurers and the localities, this is the first time we are issuing a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s building codes.”

As part of the BCEGS program, the ISO Community Hazard Mitigation staff collects 1,243 data points that detail the extent and capabilities of a graded community’s building code adoption and enforcement. The information gathered falls into three major categories:

  • Administration, which includes the adoption and enforcement of the latest model code and staff training;
  • Plan review, such as internal processes to promote accuracy; and
  • Field inspections, including the local building department’s staffing level, workload, and inspection of structural features related to natural disaster mitigation.

ISO grades the building code effectiveness in communities in 45 participating states, assigning each municipality or county a BCEGS grade of 1 (exemplary commitment to building code enforcement) to 10. The National Building Code Assessment Report provides the average grade for each state, the average population served per certified code official, the top natural hazards, and the state’s history in adopting the latest model building code, among other factors.

(Related: ISO Adds SecurityGauge Crime Data to ISO RiskElements)

Insurers are licensed to use BCEGS grades as part of the property coverage underwriting process to provide premium credits based on a community’s grade. Additionally, the vendor says, the BCEGS program provides a key component of the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS). Under the CRS, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reward community actions that meet defined goals of the CRS. BCEGS data is provided free of charge to the building officials of each participating community. Given the proprietary nature of the information, more specific details at the community level are not released publicly, the vendor notes.

Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at or (503) 936-2803.

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