Utah is largely a desert state, so concerns about flooding are not very common among residents. Nevertheless, floods can and do happen everywhere in this state. Some floods have cost the state of Utah millions of dollars in damages. Affected residents and business owners who did not have flood insurance were left holding the bag. An overwhelming majority of residents of the state to do not carry flood insurance despite the fact that quotes for this coverage are relatively inexpensive. Are you one of them?
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Facts about Recent Major Floods in Utah
- Heavy rainfall caused high reservoir levels, which required the release of water from Cutler Dam in Box Elder County. As a result, area farmers dealt with flooding as high as 6 feet in some places, and many cattle and a great deal of farm equipment were lost.
- Several weeks of heavy precipitation caused significant flooding along the Santa Clara and Virgin rivers. Many homes along the banks of the Santa Clara River were destroyed.
- In July 1999, the Davis-Weber Highline Canal breached its concrete lining. Waters that escaped eroded the sand embankment surrounding the canal and flooded 30 homes. This flood caused approximately $50 million in damages to homes and farmland.
- In June 1986, greater-than-normal rainfall caused the Great Salt Lake to overflow and caused an estimated $268 million in damages.
- In June 1984, heavy rainfalls caused Utah Lake to reach historic elevations and water that overflowed the banks caused approximately $5.9 million in damages.
Why Do Utah Residents Need Flood Insurance?
A majority of people assume that coverage against flood damage is included in their homeowners, renters, or business insurance policies. Unfortunately, it is only after they suffer a devastating flood loss that they learn that it is not. The costs associated with flood damage can be quite excessive, and if payment must come out of your own pocket, it can cause a painful economic blow. Of course, if the flood is severe enough to be declared a federal disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will step in to provide assistance.
What many people do not realize, however, is that this assistance comes only in the form of low-interest loans that must be repaid to the government. The cost to repay a loan for $25,000 to repair damages far exceeds the cost of covering your home with flood insurance for 30 years. According to FEMA estimates, just two inches of floodwater in a 1,000 square foot home can lead to as much as $10,000 in damages. Flooding in a basement can destroy appliances such as furnaces and hot water heaters and can also cause structural damage and require expensive mold removal services.
When the floodwaters affect above-ground floors, the damages are typically even more expensive because your personal belongings such as furniture, carpeting, and electronics are likely to be damaged beyond repair. FEMA reports that the average paid flood insurance claim during previous years was approximately $38,000.
What Is the National Flood Insurance Program?
By the 1950s, most homeowners insurance companies had stopped including flood insurance coverage in their policies because of the excessively high costs associated with compensating people for this damage. This left many homeowners in an unfortunate predicament, as it left them with no viable options. Floods led to destruction of communities and associated economic losses, and homeowners were forced to declare bankruptcy.
For this reason, the U.S. Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program in 1968. Through this program, insurance companies could sell supplemental flood insurance policies that were fully backed by the federal government. As expected, the program currently operates at a loss, but it has saved the country billions of dollars in bankruptcy claims. Flood insurance is available to everyone who lives in a flood zone. In fact, for those who hold mortgages for structures in high-risk areas, this coverage is mandatory.
Rates are standardized across the country and are based entirely on the flood risk where your home or business is located, the amount of coverage you are purchasing, and whether you are covering the structure or contents or both. Furthermore, filing a claim will not cause your rates to increase. The average flood insurance policy costs as little as one dollar a day. Those who live in low-risk areas can get policies starting at just $120 a year. This is a small price to pay to safeguard the investment you have made in your home, business, or personal property.
Utah Flood Insurance Facts as Reported by FEMA
- There are currently only 4,440 flood insurance policies in effect in this state.
- Fewer than 1% of the residents in the state of Utah are covered by flood insurance.
- Residents in this state filed 56 flood insurance claims.
- These claims resulted in $199,000 in compensation paid to policy holders.
- That equates to an average of about $3,553 per claim.
What Does a Flood Insurance Policy Cover?
There are flood insurance policies designed for both individuals and business owners. Each of these policies includes two types of coverage, one to cover damages to the structure of the building itself and one to cover its contents. You have the option to purchase just one type of coverage or both, depending on your particular needs. Most homeowners will opt to purchase both while renters need only purchase contents coverage, and lessors need only structural coverage.
- Structural coverage: This is designed to reimburse you for costs associated with damages to the structure of the home or building. Individuals can purchase up to $250,000 in this coverage while business owners can purchase up to $500,000. Flood insurance structural coverage includes:
- The building’s foundation
- The plumbing and electrical systems
- The heating and air conditioning units
- Any built-in appliances
- Any permanently installed carpeting over unfinished floors
- Contents coverage: This is designed to reimburse you for the costs associated with loss or damage to the property you keep in your home or business. It is important to note that flood insurance contents coverage will not cover property that is kept in a basement, even if it is a finished basement. Individuals can purchase up to $100,000 in contents coverage while business owners can purchase up to $500,000. Coverage includes:
- Furniture and office supplies
- Artwork and other décor
- Portable appliances
- Window type air conditioners
- Any carpeting or flooring that is installed over finished floors
Get Flood Insurance Quotes from an Agent in Utah
Although flood insurance policies are backed by the federal government, they can be bought through any qualified insurance provider. Purchasing a flood insurance policy for your home or business in UT is easy with the help of an independent agent in our network. These agents can help you assess how much coverage you need and can then provide you with information about how much you can expect to pay for different levels of coverage.
Find an agent near your home in Utah to get more information and to start reviewing flood insurance quotes for your home or business.