A fire, flood or hurricane can turn your life upside down and leave you without the things you need. Losing everything you own in a fire, or having your home destroyed by a flood, is bad enough, but that kind of disaster could also leave your finances in disarray. Even if you have insurance, the disruption to your income, combined with all those unplanned expenses, could leave you financially vulnerable.
That is why it is so important for your family’s disaster plan to include a financial component. Planning for a disaster may not be fun, but it is certainly important. Good disaster planning means knowing where you and your family members will meet should disaster strike. It means having a communication plan in place so you can let loved ones know you are safe. Good disaster planning also means ensuring that your financial records – from wills and tax documents to insurance policies – are safe from the storm.
You can start by gathering the important documents in your financial life – from insurance policies on your home and car to the deed for your home and your most recent tax returns. Once you have all those documents gathered together, be sure to store them in a safe place. A fireproof wall safe is ideal. You can also use a locked fireproof box to keep those documents safe. For added security, consider making copies to keep at home and storing the originals in a safe deposit box at your bank.
You might also want to take pictures of those important documents, especially the contact information and phone number sections, with your smart phone or cell phone camera. This will help ensure you have the information you need at your disposal – even if you cannot reach your home or get to the bank. There are also smart phone apps you can download and use to record things like policy numbers, insurance information and other valuable financial information. Having those apps available can make recovering from a disaster and getting the help you need a lot easier.
If disaster does strike, be sure to keep copies of all your receipts and expenditures. Again, your cell phone can help by storing pictures of receipts that would otherwise be lost. Keeping track of your expenses will make it easier to file a claim with your insurance company. Having that financial loss information available will also make it easier to file a claim and get reimbursement from FEMA and other disaster relief organizations. No one wants to fall victim to a disaster, but a little advance planning can make all the difference in the world should the worst happen.