On July 1, 2000, the North Carolina Department of Insurance became the agency responsible for the fire insurance rating of municipalities/fire districts with under 100,000 population. Ratings are based on the fire department infrastructure, delivery of service methods, response times, adequate staffing, water supplies, etc. A classification of 1 to 10 is assigned based upon the results of the inspection. A rating of 1 indicates the highest level of fire protection. Lower ratings mean lower premiums on fire-insurance rates for both commercial and residential properties. Insurance Companies use this number to provide a cost of Insurance on real property.