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Residents in Slide Fire area urged to get flood insurance

PHOENIX — Those who live in the area affected by the Slide Fire near Sedona, Ariz. are being urged to get flood insurance as quickly as possible.

Nicole Farr of the Arizona Insurance Council said the fire has created extreme risks for flooding. The dense brush and foliage that once kept soil in place and absorbed water is no longer there, leaving rain waters nowhere to go but down. Farr said the monsoon rains will be here soon so there’s no time to waste.

“Because there is a 30-day waiting period before most policies go into effect, we urge home and business owners to contact their insurance agent or representative and the National Flood Insurance Program as soon as possible,” she said. “Flood insurance must be purchased separately from homeowner’s insurance.”

Annual flood insurance premiums start as low as $129 for a hom and $643 for a commercial building. Farr said that’s a bargain.

“Compare that to the fact that just two inches of flood water in the average home can create over $10,000 in damages,” she said. “From 2008 to 2012, the average residential flood claim amounted to almost $42,000.”

Wildfires seem to claim homes every year in Arizona and this year will likely be no exception. Valley CPA Erik Ketellar said homeowners insurance should cover most of the damages if your home is destroyed. The rest can be written off on your taxes next spring.

“You can deduct 100 percent of your casualty losses on Schedule A of the tax return,” he said. “You need to carefully track everything you lost. Make sure you document everything your insurance reimbursed and what you paid for out of pocket. Essentially have an inventory of everything in your home. Anything that’s valuable like gold, diamonds, gun collections, etc. needs to be documented.”

Coverage is available through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program. Consumers can visit or call (800) 427-2419 to learn more.