The cost of flood insurance in Utah typically runs between $367 and $1,441 per year, with many homeowners paying an average of $659 per year.
Insurance companies weigh many factors when determining flood insurance cost, including the location of the property, the home’s elevation, the building structure, and the coverage terms selected.
A standard flood insurance policy will likely provide both building property coverage and personal property coverage, but homeowners may also be able to purchase loss of use, loss avoidance, and debris removal coverage.
Although not required under Utah state law, flood insurance may be required by FEMA or the homeowner's mortgage lender.
Every year, scenes of devastation to homes and property caused by flooding make the rounds on the front pages of newspapers and news websites. Families who have lost everything search among the rubble for any remnants left from their old life as they prepare to start fresh somewhere new or rebuild—if they have insurance coverage. Contrary to popular belief, flood damage is generally excluded from homeowners insurance coverage (as well as renters insurance), so unless homeowners and renters have a separate flood insurance policy, there’s little chance they’ll have the coverage to rebuild.
The average cost of flood insurance varies by state and area based on a number of factors including the proximity of likely floodwater, the size and value of the home, the type of policy selected, and overall risk based on the history of flooding in the area. In Utah, the risk varies significantly based on location—and despite the location of the Great Salt Lake, many people don’t think of Utah as a particularly flood-prone zone. Utah residents may be more at risk for flood damage than they realize, though, as seasonal snowmelt could lead to flooding. As such, buying a flood insurance policy could be in their best interest. Based on these factors, how much should flood insurance cost in Utah? The annual cost of flood insurance is $659 on average, with the average flood insurance cost per month coming out to $55. Prices for flood insurance in Utah typically range anywhere between $367 and $1,441 per year, but exact rates will depend on a variety of factors that may differ from one customer to another.
Factors in Calculating Flood Insurance Cost in Utah
When floodwater rises, the risk of impact is different for each home and building. Understanding how this risk is calculated before a flood occurs can help make sure that a homeowner or renter has enough insurance to protect their property and belongings in case of a flood.
Flood Risk and Zone
Theoretically, every home has a risk of flooding—even in areas that aren’t close to water sources. An unusually heavy and concentrated rainstorm can saturate areas that aren’t accustomed to draining and send water rushing through streets and culverts. Generally, people in areas that do not have at least a moderate flood risk may not need to carry flood insurance. Those who live in areas that have moderate or high flood risk, however, may want to strongly consider adding a flood insurance policy.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) helps insurers and residents figure out the flood risk through a flood risk-zone rating system: Zones labeled A or V are considered high risk, zones labeled B or X have a moderate risk, and areas labeled C are considered low risk. Utah residents may want to check out the Utah Flood Hazards and Floodplain Management site to access FEMA’s flood zone maps and assess the flood risk in their particular part of the state. Salt Lake City has the highest flood risk, but areas along the Santa Clara, Jordan, and Virgin rivers are also at risk. Areas in A or V zones will have the highest risk rating, while B or X zones will have a lower risk rating. Areas in the C zone will have the lowest rates because of the reduced risk of flooding.
FEMA updated its risk determination program in 2021, debuting FEMA Risk Rating 2.0, which uses property-specific data to assess a building’s location, flood frequency, and the cost to repair or rebuild the property. It’s a more accurate indicator of the risk to the home or building, and it will have a bearing on the specific cost of flood insurance for each building.
The degree of damage that a flood can impose on a structure is directly related to its elevation. Buildings that are elevated above street level or have minimal underground spaces are at lower risk of significant damage, so flood insurance costs are often lower for those buildings. FEMA defines an elevated building as one that has no basement and has a first floor elevated by posts, piers, pilings, columns, or certain types of foundation walls. Previously, FEMA issued elevation certificates to property owners; insurance companies used them to help determine flood risk and therefore the price of the policy. Since FEMA implemented Risk Rating 2.0, those certificates are no longer required, but the standards are still used to guide new construction in high-risk areas. Homes that are elevated will likely earn lower flood insurance rates because they are less likely to sustain catastrophic damage, while homes that are not elevated and have full basements will likely have higher flood insurance rates.
City or County
Water can’t read maps, so borders don’t matter much in terms of where damage can occur; the proximity to a water source is a much greater factor when insurance companies are determining flood insurance rates. However, some cities and counties have chosen to participate in a FEMA program called the Community Rating System (CRS), in which the government and the community as a whole actively seek to reduce their likelihood of flood damage by managing floodplains, acquiring flood-prone property for purposes other than building, and taking steps to reduce damage to existing buildings. People who live in CRS communities receive a discount on their flood insurance rates.
The cost of flood insurance is based on risk, and because the construction and characteristics of the building itself will affect the potential level of damage during a flood, those characteristics also affect insurance rates.
Age of the building: Older buildings with handcrafted millwork and plaster will cost significantly more to repair and restore, and will therefore incur a higher insurance rate.
Type of foundation: Solid perimeter foundations are more likely to be damaged or destroyed during a flood because there’s nowhere for the water to go. Pier foundations and solid foundations with flood openings built in are much safer, so it will cost less to insure buildings with those types of foundations.
First-floor height: One component that determines whether a home is elevated is the height of the first floor. Can water wash up the front yard and spill immediately into the first floor of the building, or is the first floor elevated enough that the water has to build and rise higher to get in? Buildings with elevated first floors will cost less to insure than those with ground-level floors.
Placement of utilities and machinery: If the hubs of the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems are located in the basement, the building will cost more to insure as the systems are more likely to be destroyed by flooding than systems located at ground level or above.
Coverage Type and Amount
There are two primary types of flood insurance: building property coverage and personal property coverage. There is also add-on coverage for loss of use, debris removal, and loss avoidance. The types of coverage selected will affect the cost of the insurance. Customers can choose to purchase only building property coverage, which will cover the repair or replacement of the building structure, but they can choose not to purchase personal property coverage, which covers the policyholder’s belongings. Doing so will reduce insurance premiums, but it also means that in the event of a flood, the customer may need to pay to replace all of their personal property out of pocket.
Customers will also select the amount of coverage they prefer. Rates increase as coverage amounts increase, so it’s a risk-reward determination on the part of the customer (and an experienced agent). Paying less for a lower rate at the policy’s inception may backfire in the event of a serious flood if the amount of damage significantly exceeds the amount of coverage.
Similarly, the deductible selected by the customer will affect the cost of the insurance policy, and it could also affect the size of an insurance payout in the event of a flood disaster. Most consumers are familiar with deductible selection from purchasing other types of insurance, such as car or health insurance. A lower deductible means higher up-front costs but a larger payout when a claim is made since less money is deducted from the total payout amount. Meanwhile, a higher deductible reflects lower costs up front but could lead to a smaller payout when a claim is filed.
National Flood Insurance Program vs. Private Insurance
Flood insurance coverage and costs can depend on the type of policy purchased. Homeowners have two options to consider: either private flood insurance or a policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Homeowners insurance companies don’t cover water damage caused by floods. The industry excludes this coverage because of the simple fact that the damage caused by flooding is catastrophic for each individual home and building in a flooded area, and that damage adds up collectively to a colossal amount of money that insurers have to pay out all at once. Recognizing that property owners would be ruined by the costs of rebuilding after a flood, FEMA introduced the National Flood Insurance Program, whose costs are backed by the FEMA budget. NFIP coverage includes only building property coverage and personal property coverage, and the maximum coverage amounts are $250,000. NFIP also offers a reduced-cost policy, called the Preferred Risk Policy, for those who live in lower-risk zones.
Why might someone choose to purchase flood insurance from a private insurer rather than the NFIP? First, not all communities participate in the NFIP, in which case the only way to purchase insurance is through a private company. Also, the NFIP doesn’t offer additional coverage for loss of use or loss avoidance. Some property owners may feel that they need more coverage than the $250,000 flood insurance maximum coverage offered by NFIP. Those for whom NFIP is not available can choose to purchase coverage through a private insurer. For those who find NFIP coverage to be insufficient, supplemental coverage can be purchased privately to augment an NFIP policy. The process for purchasing private insurance is similar to choosing homeowners insurance: It’s important for customers to research companies that offer flood coverage, then compare rates, deductibles, and coverage amounts before selecting an appropriate policy. The best flood insurance companies can provide the right type and amount of coverage that Utah residents need to protect their homes and valuables.
Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost Coverage
Insurers offer two types of payout on their flood insurance plans, and it’s important to understand the difference. Actual cash value coverage means that the insurance company will consider the current value of items included in a claim, not what it would cost to replace the items. It will then use a formula based on the age of the items to depreciate the value and pay out that amount (less the deductible). For example, a homeowner who purchased a refrigerator 5 years ago for $1,500 would receive an amount equal to the depreciated value of the refrigerator, which would be less than $1,500. Essentially, the insurer would pay the amount that the item would fetch on the market if it had been sold the day before the flood based on its age. This is typically the less expensive coverage option because the payouts are lower. However, since a policyholder would still have to buy a new refrigerator, out-of-pocket costs would be higher after a disaster.
Replacement cost coverage reimburses policyholders for the amount it would cost to replace the items that were damaged in the flood up to the policy’s coverage limit, disregarding depreciation altogether. With that in mind, the policyholder who is making a claim for the refrigerator that cost $1,500 several years ago and now costs $1,700 will receive $1,700, minus any deductible. Obviously, this type of coverage costs more for the insurance company, so it will therefore cost more for the insured. In the case of a major flood disaster, however, this type of coverage will make rebuilding a home or building less stressful and expensive.
Types of Flood Insurance in Utah
Flood insurance is not one size fits all. There are different types of coverage, in addition to different levels of coverage. The type of coverage will determine which items or structures the policyholder can claim for reimbursement under the terms of the policy. It’s critical that shoppers make sure that the type of insurance they have matches the risks to their property—it would be devastating to feel secure in the amount of coverage and then discover after a disaster that the cost to replace or repair any damages or losses won’t be reimbursed.
Building Property Coverage
Building property coverage specifically includes the structural elements of a building. Starting with the actual structure, building property coverage includes:
In addition, building property coverage includes some permanently installed decor items, which can include wall-to-wall carpeting, window blinds, anchored bookcases, and wall paneling.
Finally, building property coverage can help protect from damage to home systems and permanently installed appliances, including:
Refrigerators (usually only the primary unit)
Specifically excluded from building property coverage are yard items such as decks, patios, pools, and landscaping because they are not part of the solid structure of the building. The single exception to this exclusion is for a detached garage. Because a detached garage is a separate building on the property, it would typically be covered.
Personal Property Coverage
While building property coverage protects against the cost of repairing or replacing a structure damaged in a flood, personal property coverage covers the policyholder’s belongings, including:
Also included are some decor items and appliances that can be moved, such as:
Area rugs or carpets
Clothes washers and dryers (these are not considered permanent installations)
Portable air conditioners
A key point to note: Most flood insurance policies exclude personal property coverage for anything—anything at all—that is stored in a basement. Because basements are the part of homes that are most likely to encounter floodwater, insurance companies have deemed these areas too high risk and will only cover items stored on higher floors. Also, items such as legal paperwork and cash are not covered because it’s simply too difficult to prove that the policyholder had them in their possession at the time of the flood and too difficult to replicate the items.
Loss of Use Coverage
Also called additional living expense coverage, loss of use coverage is intended to make it easier to live or work somewhere else while a home is being repaired, restored, or rebuilt. The cost of hotels, dining out, rental cars, parking, equipment rental, and other costs associated with living somewhere else fall into this type of coverage.
The NFIP does not offer this type of coverage, as FEMA’s focus is on the restoration of homes and businesses. However, private flood insurance companies often offer this option, so loss of use coverage may be purchased separately to augment an NFIP policy, or property owners can add this coverage to a private insurance policy.
Loss Avoidance Coverage
There are a number of steps property owners can take to protect their property from flood damage. Purchasing sandbags to prevent water incursion, purchasing and installing water pumps to keep water levels low during a flood, using plastic sheeting and lumber to create barriers, using fill (sand and gravel) to create temporary levees or berms to redirect water, and temporarily moving personal belongings to a safer area are some steps property owners can take to mitigate flood damage. Recognizing that these measures are likely to lower the costs of claims after a flood but may place an additional cost burden on the insured, the NFIP offers coverage up to $1,000 for the expense of protecting the property and $1,000 for the cost of moving the property to those who carry a standard flood insurance policy (SFIP) through FEMA.
Debris Removal Coverage
Floods can leave behind devastation—and a lot of other material and debris piled on the lawn. Uprooted trees, the neighbor’s picnic table, a car from three blocks over, and heaps of trash and mud can be left behind on a property after the waters recede. The piles of debris can seem overwhelming and may even be unsafe to approach with a trash bag and gloves. Private insurers may offer debris removal coverage in the same way that most homeowners insurance companies offer coverage allowing customers to hire an appropriate company to haul away and dispose of the debris or rent a dumpster to make it easier to manage. The NFIP does not offer this type of coverage, however.
Do I need flood insurance in Utah?
The Utah state government does not require homeowners, landlords, or renters to carry flood insurance. Because Utah is a state that is not situated on a coast and doesn’t host rivers that spring immediately to mind when most people think of flooding, it’s easy to assume that flood insurance isn’t necessary here. Unfortunately for Utah’s residents, this assumption is incorrect: Flooding is one of the most common and destructive natural disasters that the state of Utah experiences. Because of this, the Utah Division of Emergency Management’s Floodplain Management Program works to support floodplain adjusters and FEMA representatives to accurately assess the risks, as well as assist residents with identifying their floodplain status and choosing appropriate coverage.
Mortgage Lender Requirements
While the Utah state government may not demand that homeowners or business owners carry flood insurance, other entities might. One thing homeowners may not know about flood insurance is that most mortgage lenders do have flood insurance requirements for properties located in high-risk areas. Extending a mortgage loan to a person with solid credit is a risk that mortgage lenders take, with the understanding that if the borrower defaults, the lender can reclaim the building and sell it to recoup their losses. In the case of a serious flood, there may be no building to reclaim and sell. To protect their investment, mortgage lenders often require borrowers who live in moderate- or high-risk areas to carry flood insurance either through the NFIP or a private insurer, and require borrowers to maintain that insurance for the duration of the mortgage.
While a property owner isn’t legally required to carry flood insurance, anyone who lives in an area at risk for flooding will want to give it serious consideration. FEMA has identified several communities in Salt Lake City as Special Flood Hazard Areas, and people in those areas may want to strongly consider carrying flood coverage. Even those who have lived in Utah for decades and have never experienced a flood may want to take a close look at FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0 assessment of their property, because climate change and neighborhood development may have created flood risks where none existed before. In addition, if a property has ever received federal disaster assistance during a previous flood, it qualifies as high risk, and the property owner must carry flood insurance to be eligible for any future federal disaster aid.
Proximity to Water
A significant element of Risk Rating 2.0 is a building’s proximity to the edge of a water source. Previously, flood zones were more general and identified neighborhoods as high or low risk. But it stands to reason that a building that is 50 feet from the edge of a lake or river is at much higher risk than a home that is 2 miles away from the edge of a body of water, even if it’s in a lower-lying area. The assessment examines how far water would have to travel to make it into a home. Buildings close to a water source—even a seemingly innocuous stream—will likely see a higher risk assessment and therefore a higher insurance cost.
How to Save Money on Flood Insurance in Utah
There are actually a number of steps property owners (and renters) can take to reduce their flood insurance costs in Utah. It’s important to remember, though, that some costs will be paid out at one end or another; saving money on premium costs may mean a greater outlay of cash after a disaster.
Remodel the home according to FEMA’s retrofitting guidelines for reducing flood risks to make the building more flood-resistant and lower insurance premiums in the process.
Make structural improvements such as filling in the basement, elevating the home, and installing first-floor drains to help water drain faster to lower the risk of flood damage.
If an elevation certificate is available, submit it to the insurance company to see if it’s possible to get a reduced price on a flood policy.
Choose a higher deductible, which will reduce up-front costs but will result in a lower insurance payout should a flood occur.
Choose a lower coverage amount, which will lower flood insurance premiums.
Select a policy that only includes either building property or personal property coverage. This can result in significant savings, but at a risk: Should a serious flood occur, tremendous expenses may be incurred.
Questions to Ask About Flood Insurance in Utah
One of the difficulties of purchasing flood insurance is that no two homes or buildings are alike, so each circumstance is different. An agent for an insurance company should be able to answer these questions to make sure each customer is properly covered:
Is my building in a high-risk zone?
Where is my building’s lowest point? Will my policy cover that area of the property?
When does the coverage become active? Is there a waiting period?
What is the claims process, and how long does the company take to pay out a claim?
What does the policy exclude from coverage?
Do I need flood insurance if I’m a renter? (Although the landlord is responsible for the building itself, renters are usually able to purchase coverage for their personal property, and it’s an important question to ask.)
The unique properties of each home and building can make it tough to generalize about flood insurance coverage in Utah. Obtaining answers to some of the most common questions about flood insurance can help those who own or rent property in Utah cover the basics so they feel secure in researching their options.
Q. Is flood insurance required in Utah?
Flood insurance is not required by law in Utah. It is, however, required by most mortgage lenders and all federally backed mortgage programs if the building is located in a medium- or high-level flood-risk zone. Flooding is the most expensive natural disaster that Utah experiences, though, so even if it’s not required, those who live in a medium or high flood-risk zone will want to consider carrying a flood insurance policy regardless of requirement.
Q. How easy is it to get flood insurance in Utah?
For those communities that participate in the NFIP, the process is reasonably simple: Use FEMA’s flood insurance provider tool to find a local insurer who works with the NFIP. The Utah Insurance Department also has many flood insurance resources to assist residents during their search, including a list of flood insurance providers in the state. Rates for NFIP policies are set by the NFIP, so selecting a provider is a matter of preference and there’s no need to compare rates at different insurers. Those seeking private insurance will need to do a little more research to figure out how to get flood insurance, comparing products before selecting an insurer and a policy that fits their needs, and they may want to consider working with a private insurance agent to find the best options. Property owners will want to show the same diligence when searching for a flood insurance policy as they would when weighing the merits of the best homeowners insurance companies.
Q. How can flooding cause problems for homeowners in Utah?
Rushing water can really ruin everything. Flash floods can sweep into homes with little warning, destroying personal items and seeping into structures to damage wood, walls, and the structural underpinnings of a building. Broken glass, contaminated waste products, and contaminated drinking water sources can make sanitation impossible. And those are just the immediate effects: Just a few inches of standing water can undermine foundations, allow mold and mildew to grow swiftly and unchecked, and invite pests into homes that were previously impervious. Plus, if one building is flooded, it’s likely that other nearby homes and businesses are also flooded, so supplies for repair and the professionals who know how to do the repairs may be in high demand and short supply. As such, it may take a long time for repairs to be done—allowing the water to do more damage over time. Flood cleanup is both an immediate and long-term process and shouldn’t be underestimated. Property owners who do experience a flood may want to contact one of the best water damage restoration service providers as soon as possible.