You can never truly be financially prepared for the unexpected, such as a natural disaster. However, technology today has afforded us the advanced warning systems to help us better protect ourselves and our family when facing imminent danger from storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes.
When it comes to your money, it takes more than a few hours of prep time to ensure you have what you need during an emergency situation.
Learn about how you can get yourself financially prepared for the hurricane Irma and how to get back on your feet faster.
Be Able to Pay for Things
If a threat is imminent, you need to take action financially. One of the most important things you can do is ensure you have access to cash. An emergency fund is a resource you should be utilizing to stash your cash over time. When true emergency strikes, you’ll have the monetary resources to get through some of the most difficult times.
Remember that during many natural disasters that have occurred in the past, power may go out for days or weeks at a time. This means credit cards, bank cards, and other electronics may not work. When weather warnings arise, withdraw enough cash to see you through the situation. Consider the following:
- Whether you’ll need to rent a hotel room
- Gas in your vehicle when on the road
- Cash for groceries and other supplies
Withdraw enough cash to tide you over until some normalcy returns. If you are not saving emergency cash, it can be very hard to survive in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster.
Bring copies of your credit cards, insurance paperwork, and other important financial documents with you in the event you cannot return to your home for some time.
Tip: Remember that credit cards come with many different kinds of benefits, insurances, and protection plans could come in handy when you’re in tough times (e.g., personal concierge, medical & emergency assistance, etc.).
For those that may not have experienced the aftermath of a natural disaster, you may not realize the devastating effects that follow and being prepared for anything will go a long way to protect you physically and financially.
Safeguard Sensitive Paperwork
Your financial paperwork is just as important as the supplies in your emergency kit. You don’t want to have all these documents damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster.
Gather important paperwork concerning your financial life, which may include copies of the following:
- Mortgage documents or rental agreements
- Homeowners, renters and car insurance policies
- Tax records
- Financial statements and account numbers
- Drivers license/passport
- Social Security card
- Copies of your will
- The titles to your vehicles and home
- Copies of prescriptions for medications
You should keep this documentation in a “safe place.” If this safe place is in your home, you may want to reconsider other options, such as a safe deposit box.
Banks can rent a safe deposit box where copies of your most important documents are kept. You should also have pictures/videos of your valuables, insurance paperwork, and financial documents kept in a location outside of your home.
Keep both paper and electronic copies of what you have. In the event you lose your home such as in a tornado, you’ll still be able to access your important documents.
Obtain Flood Insurance
It will be important to prepare for what may come, even if the disaster isn’t as bad as the media predicts. If you live in a flood-prone area you may already be required to have flood insurance for your home.
If you don’t live in a flood zone, you may still consider coverage just in case your property is damaged or lost during a natural disaster. Flood insurance is separate than other types of homeowner insurance so make sure to contact your agent to learn more about any additional coverage you may need. For those who do not own their own home, invest in renters insurance. It is fairly inexpensive but can become invaluable if disaster strikes.
Generally, flood insurance may take up to 30 days to take effect. So, it may not be helpful if bad weather is already on the way. It just means that you shouldn’t hesitate to apply for it.
Build an Emergency Fund
Although there may not be much you can do for major savings when a storm is incoming, it is worth mentioning again that an emergency fund is essential
Having some emergency cash will help significantly as you gather yourself and work on recovering your situation.
The ideal vehicle is an online savings account because you’ll want easy access to the funds (unlike a certificate of deposit or other riskier investment). Generally, you should have at least 3-6 months worth of expenses saved up — increase it even more if you prefer a large financial cushion.