Disasters and other types of emergencies have detrimentally impacted Americans – at all income levels – throughout history.

Millions upon millions have faced the daunting task of reconstructing their lives after experiencing, firsthand, natural disasters, manmade complications, and other types of emergencies. All of these circumstances are extremely stressful and highly complicated. Initiating the process of recovery requires having immediate access to money, personal records, financial records, insurance information, medical benefits, and similar types of records.

Collecting and securing these records are all part of the financial preparedness process when disasters and emergencies hit. In this multi-part series, we will be providing up-to-date, comprehensive information that will help you start the process of creating your financial preparedness plan.

The Initial Response to Disaster and Emergencies

If a disaster or an emergency happens to strike your home and/or community, you will often have seconds or just a few number of minutes to react in a positive, constructive, and productive manner. In that critical time span, your safety and the safety of your loved ones will be your top priority – not your insurance papers or information pertaining to your bank account.

Once all immediate danger has been avoided and is passed, you will then start the recovery process.

It is then that you will need to be able to access important documentation that pertains to your life, property, and finances. The initial response to disasters and emergencies is the preservation of life – and, rightly so.

This is the purpose and intent of this series – to help you develop a financial preparedness plan NOW that will allow you to focus on the preservation of life during a disaster and emergency, without the worry of having to find essential documents that are vital to your livelihood.

Critical Documents

Financial preparedness for disasters and emergencies involved collecting various critical documents and storing them in a safe place so that they may be easily accessed. There are four different types that hold the highest level of importance. They are as follows:

  1. Documents That Provide Household Identification – Examples include proof of identity of all persons residing in your home. Documents may include Driver’s licenses, Identification cards, birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce licenses, Social Security cards, dental records, medical records, DNA swabs, passports, and documents pertaining to Naturalization.
  2. Documentation Pertaining to Finances and Legal Issues – Examples include proof of house payments made, utility bills, insurance policies, tax statements, income sources, estate planning, verification of financial accounts, wills, and retirement accounts.
  3. Documentation That Relates to Medical Information – Examples include names of treating doctors, health insurance cards, pharmacy identification cards, immunization records, records pertaining to allergies, medication lists, identification numbers of medical equipment in the home, living will, Power of Attorney, Guardianship papers, pet medical records, and pet prescriptions.
  4. Documentation That Pertains to Household Contacts – Examples include mortgage or rent paperwork/leases/contracts, insurance information, financial advisor paperwork, disability providers, doctors, Social Security caseworkers, and lawyers.

If you have an interest in creating a financial preparedness plan for disasters and emergencies, Somerville National Bank can help!

Read Part 2 >