Wildfires in the West. Hurricanes in the East. Ground-shaking earthquakes in Alaska. Intense flooding along the coast. White-out blizzards in the Northeast. Intense tornadoes in the South. It does not matter where you are located in the United States, you likely face imminent danger from at least one type of natural disaster, be it a blizzard, drought, earthquakes, extreme temperatures, famine, flooding, hurricanes, landslides, precipitation, or wildfires.
These result in damage to homes, property, and may detrimentally impact your health and well-being. All ultimately lead to financial-based challenges. Here, you will learn how to prepare yourself now. When it comes to natural disasters, it is imperative that you are proactive and not reactive. We all know the importance of stocking up on water, canned goods, lighting sources, and first aid supplies. Here, we will go a step further and provide instructions on how to prepare for natural disasters that could impact you financially.
Keeping Essential Documents Safe
When preparing for natural disasters, it is imperative that you place an emphasis on safeguarding the essential documents of your life. You should obtain a large safe that locks and is considered to be both waterproof and fireproof. Once you get this, place the following inside of it:
- Keep both original and copies of all of the documents that identify you. These include the driver’s license or state-issued identification card, your card from Social Security, and the birth certificate. Originals and copies for all people within your household should be placed within the safe.
- All of your insurance policies such as those on your home, your vehicle, and even your life insurance. You may also place health and prescription insurance cards, policies, and other relevant information within the safe.
- Speaking of health documents, you should place any relevant health information in the safe. This includes a list of all of the health conditions of those in the home, health records, detailed information on any prescriptions taken, dosage instructions for prescriptions, immunization records, and similar information.
- If you have pets, keep all associated documentation associated with your pet in the safe. Examples include shot records, rabies shot verification, a list of prescriptions, and other relevant information that may be necessary to access during an emergency situation.
- You should keep all contact information, records, and other documents pertaining to your bank accounts, the checks, front and back copies of debit card and credit cards, brokerage firms, and loans. In this information, be sure to make a note that includes your account numbers associated with each account, the website of the company, as well as the phone number of each company so that you may contact them directly if you find it is necessary.
- A comprehensive list of personal property that is considered to be valuable. You may include receipts and pictures of the items as well as any written appraisals.
- Copies of your vehicle titles, deeds, and similar information.
- A set amount of cash just in case electricity goes down and point-of-sale machines and/or ATM machines are not functional.
- Flash drives that include copies of all information. It is best to protect the flash drive with a password.
- You should also include a bag that you may grab quickly should you have to evacuate in an emergency that contains the most important of all items outlined in this guide.
Consider Bank Availability
In some instances, banks may be required to limit their operations during a natural disaster or another type of emergency situation. Because of this, it is imperative that you sign up for a debit card, digital banking, mobile banking, and other types of digital solutions.
Also, it is essential that you keep some cash on hand (as mentioned previously). Remember, the money that you keep at a bank that is FDIC-Insured will be protected. This protection goes up to $250,000. This goes into play if a bank failure occurs. If you keep more than this amount in a bank, it may be a good idea to discuss additional accounts with your banker today.
What Happens If Damaged Is Experienced?
If a natural disaster hits and you find that you have suffered property damage, it must be reported to the associated insurance company immediately.
Do not take ANY steps at all – except take pictures – until after a claims adjuster has made it out and has provided you with the clearance to take those steps.
This includes making repairs and throwing things away. If – by chance – an emergency repair is necessary, be sure to take time-stamped pictures before and after and obtain a receipt from the company that performed the repairs. You may want to contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency as they are able to provide assistance to those that have been impacted by a natural disaster.
Lenders and Creditors
If you suffer financially from the natural disaster and you have outstanding loans and balances with creditors that you feel you may be unable to pay, it is imperative that you contact your lenders and your creditors immediately.
Simply explain the circumstances and inquire about payment delays. In most instances, these companies are willing to work with their clients and will be able to assist you.
If you do have loans and credit, always sign up for insurance coverage. Under certain situations, this could help pay your debt. In the same respect, if you have a mortgage, be sure to sign up for mortgage protection insurance that will pay the remaining mortgage should you become disabled or pass away. This helps both you and your loved ones.
Believe it or not, there are fraudsters out there that prey on individuals that have experienced natural disasters. Be very cautious and avoid their scams at all costs. Avoid accepting unsolicited offers for repairs and other types of assistance.
For more information on steps you can take to prepare yourself for natural disasters, contact one of our bankers today here at Somerville Bank by calling or visiting one of our several locations: https://somervillebank.net/locations/