Natural disasters like Hurricane Florence take a tragic toll on people, property and finances. Although a significant amount of unpredictability can accompany a serious weather event, a little bit of financial preparation goes a long way toward getting your life back on track after the storm and preventing further damage to your bank account and long-term prosperity.
Having an effective disaster plan in place can make a big difference in urgent situations—and help you avoid the regret of not taking the time to prepare beforehand. Here are some ways you can prevent a Category 5 financial disaster in case you find yourself in the middle of a natural disaster.
- Have an emergency fund. Keep at least a week’s worth of cash on hand, stored in a safe and accessible place. It will come in handy if ATMs are depleted and credit card readers don’t work due to power loss after a storm. The cash will not only enable you to buy water, food, gas and other necessities for you and your family, but also provide peace of mind if you need to evacuate and face the uncertainty of what lies ahead.
- Make sure your documents are safe. If you need to deal with an insurance or repair company, having all your paperwork in order will help the process go more smoothly. Use protective fire and waterproof storage containers or technology to keep your paperwork safe. Additionally, consider storing digital copies of your documents online in “the cloud,” which will make them accessible if paper copies are destroyed or you can’t get to them due to evacuation. Morgan Stanley’s Family Records Organizer is a tool that helps guide you on how to easily collect and place all your important documents—financial plans and key legal, insurance and financial documents—in one large binder. Remember to keep this organizer in a safe and easily accessible location, and to back up electronic copies.
- Be up-to-date with your information. From insurance to IDs, make sure all your information is current and readily available in case of emergency. To prepare, meet with your financial advisor and other professionals to ensure all details are in order. Having all your information up-to-date is essential for filing timely claims with an insurance company. It’s also important to keep a record of your accounts and passwords in a safe place so you’ll be able to access the information when you need it. Consider an online password keeper so you’ll have a secure digital copy as well.
- Look over your insurance policy and contact your provider as soon as possible. To get the best and fastest service, contact your insurance provider immediately. In extreme situations, insurance company representatives are often stationed nearby to assist customers. It helps to be knowledgeable about what your policy covers, from health to homeowners to life insurance. Before a traumatic event happens, get in touch with your providers and ask any questions you have to ensure you understand your coverage—and you have the correct coverage. That may not only save you money when you need it the most, but also make a significant difference in your future financial well-being.
Preparing for a natural disaster goes beyond having supplies on hand. You can reduce stress and protect your life and financial health by taking some simple, proactive steps to prepare your assets so they can perform at their best in case you face a worst-case scenario.
Photo by Torsten Dederichs