Flood Insurance FAQ

Quick Facts and Contacts

Flood insurance differs from homeowners insurance, which excludes flood damage. Flood insurance is available to all properties within the City of Sioux Falls because the City participates in the National Flood Insurance Program. Your policy may be eligible for a discount because the City also participates in the Community Rating System. Any flood insurance needs to be in place at least 30 days before a flood event in order to submit a claim. 

Insurance costs are based on risk rating 2.0. More information on this method of determining flood insurance costs can be found on FEMA's risk rating page.

Insurance coverage is limited to specific basement items that are not furniture and cleanup. A more detailed explanation can be found via FEMA’s website


How are property owners notified of floodplain changes?

Flood risk can change over time and maps are occasionally updated to reflect these changes. When a property is removed from the floodplain, no property-specific notices are sent. When properties are added to the floodplain, a notice is typically mailed out ahead of the effective date of the map.Notice may be delivered by press releases, media coverage, and/or community meetings. 

What determines property zones for insurance purposes?

For mortgages and insurance, it’s the lending institution. For building and code concerns, the City of Sioux Falls makes the determination.

What if I disagree with my lender’s determination that a property is in the floodplain?

Property owners need to contact their lender directly for exact details, but generally, a detailed survey is needed (at the property owner’s expense), then those details (via an Elevation Certificate) can be sent to FEMA via an online account by the homeowner, surveyor, or third party.

FEMA will review the information and provide a letter (Letter of Map Amendment - LOMA) within 90 days that could either remove the structure, portion of the property, whole property, or nothing. The letter can be given to the lender for flood insurance reconsideration.

Please note the lender still has authority to require flood insurance even if FEMA provides a letter. Additionally, this letter will be automatically reviewed whenever new maps are adopted by FEMA within the community. Changes to the floodplain may result in letters becoming void. 

What if I disagree with the City of Sioux Falls’ determination that a property is in the floodplain?

Detailed information from a registered professional can be submitted to the City to show the building and/or property’s location in relation to the floodplain. This could be an Elevation Certificate (EC), site plan, or other professional analysis. Additional details to evaluate the request may be required. The City reserves the right to continue to consider the property as within the floodplain. 

What is a Pre-FIRMirm vs. a Post- FIRMirm property?

Pre-FIRM buildings are those built before the effective date of the first Flood Insurance Rate Map for a specific area; Along the Big Sioux River and Skunk Creek therefore, that’s prior to January 17, 1979. 

Post-FIRM buildings were built after the first Flood Insurance Rate Map for a specific area; Along the Big Sioux River and Skunk Creek, pre-firm is prior to January 17, 1979. 

Elevation Certificates are required for most Post-Firm Buildings. The certificate provides data that verifies compliance with the floodplain ordinance.

What does it mean for a property to be considered within the floodplain?

In addition to the required flood insurance, any property within a floodplain can expect additional building code standards and restrictions.

What is "Grandfathering" as it relates to flood zones?

It means a property was built to code at the time of construction. However, properties are only allowed noncompliance with current floodplain standards for as long as they are not substantially improved or damaged. Once that happens the entire structure must be brought up to current standards immediately. 

What is Substantial Improvement/Damage”?

By ordinance “substantial” by floodplain standards is 45 percent of a structure’s value (land value not included). Improvements include remodeling, additions, etc. to the building. Damage represents repairs needed to bring the building back to the pre-damage condition. The source of damage (fire, flood, car crash, etc.) doesn’t matter.