Preparing Financially for Natural Disasters
Hurricanes, massive rain storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters don't typically give much advanced notice of their arrival. Similar to having your home protected for a storm, it is equally important that you have your financial information prepared in case of an emergency. Here are a few things to keep in mind-
- Anticipate What Could Go Wrong
- Consider the most likely hazards, and plan accordingly. Preparing for the variety of potential disasters varies by incident. For instance, you may live in a low lying area that is prone to flooding, or you may live in an area surrounded by trees that could cause loss of power.
- Periodically review your insurance coverage. Make sure that you homeowner's (renter's) and car insurance are all up to date. It is important to know what is and what is not covered by your insurance policies.
- Keep record of your personal property. Build a list of items with estimated values, and make sure that you have adequate coverage for all of your belongings. You may also consider taking photos or a video of your property, should you need to file a claim.
- Set up direct deposit. When you have your payments sent directly to your bank account, you will have quicker access to your funds, and will eliminate the potential loss or delay of paper checks.
- Use online banking. By having online access to your financial information, you are able to tend to your finances anywhere, anytime.
- Create an emergency savings fund. Experts suggest that you should have at least three to six months of living expenses saved, in the event of a disaster.
- What To Have Ready
- Have your identification cards handy. This includes copies of driver's licenses, Social Security cards, passports, birth certificates, insurance cards and an inventory list of your personal property.
- Credit, debit and ATM cards. Make copies of the front and back of each card, in the instance that you an unable to access your actual cards.
- Account information and important phone numbers. Be sure to have this information for your bank, credit card companies, brokerage firms and insurance companies, should you require any assistance.
- What To Keep Where
- Make backup copies of important documents. Consider emailing yourself an electronic version of these important documents, and notify family members of where the original documents are kept.
- Decide what should and should not be kept in your safe deposit box. Your safe deposit box is a great location for documents that will be difficult, if not impossible, to recreate. It is important that all documents are sealed in airtight and waterproof containers, in case of flooding or water damage.
- Prepare one or more emergency evacuation kits. Aside from your personal safety items (flashlights, first aid kits, prescription medications, etc), it is also important that you include cash, checks, copies of identification cards and credit/debit/ATM cards and a key to your safe deposit box. The kit should be kept in a secure location, easy to transport and waterproof.
- Take precautions against identity theft. While your evacuation kit needs to be easily accessible, it also needs to be securely protected.
To learn more about being prepared for natural disasters, please view the FDIC's Protecting Your Finances If a Disaster Strikes: Are You Prepared.