As the sales tax holiday on hurricane supplies approaches (May 31st-June 8th), many of us are thinking about what supplies to stock up on before the season starts. But, there’s a lot more to preparing for a disaster than stocking up on supplies - you need to be financially prepared as well.
Richard Price is a certified financial advisor and owner/CEO of Secure Financial Strategies in Weston.
He has 5 things everyone should do now to make sure their financial needs are covered. These steps are critical to restoring normal life after a disaster strikes!
1. Check Your Insurance- You should consider what you need for insurance now - you might not have a chance right before a storm hits. You’ll want to make sure all of your policies (home, life, auto) are up to date and check for any potential lapses. Another thing to think about - does your insurance include replacement costs? Replacement coverage costs slightly more but it means you will be reimbursed for what you would have to pay to buy a new couch, or refrigerator, etc. If your insurance only covers “actual cash value,” you would get less from your insurance company for an older item, because of depreciation.
2. Enroll in online banking and direct deposit- Many of us do this anyway, but many of my older clients prefer the traditional method. If you’re not enrolled in online banking, you might have a hard time if roads are closed, or you have to evacuate to another city. Enroll now- and make sure you know your login and password information for all your accounts. I also recommend my clients use direct deposit for paychecks or social security deposits. Direct deposit is also a good practice because it helps prevent fraud.
3. Stock emergency cash- Speaking of your banking needs, it is a good idea to have some emergency cash on hand. Banks and ATMs may not be up and running for days after a strong storm or hurricane. I recommend my clients have 3-5 days worth of spending money, just in case. This is just another example of why it is so important to have an emergency fund.
4. Organize Papers- Think about the financial paperwork you would need if you were unable to go home for several weeks. Things like health, life and property insurance policies, credit and bank account information, vehicle registration as well as real estate deeds. You may need these documents to start filing claims after a hurricane so be sure to have them along with account numbers and claims contact information.
5. Create Secure Storage- Put all of your important documents and emergency cash in a locked, waterproof and fireproof container that you can take with you in case you are evacuated. For many people, one of the most stressful parts after a disaster is finding documents and policies and knowing where to call. You can save yourself a lot of time and headaches by putting all these documents in one place now.
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