Have funds and back-up plans ready, identity theft protection in place, and know who to trust
The memory of storms like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina are still fresh in the minds of many. As such, it is likely that numerous consumers have already begun to collect supplies and plan an evacuation route in the face of hurricane season. What many do not consider, however, is the necessity of financial preparation for emergencies.
Follow these steps to make sure you and your family are ready in case the worst happens:
- Have Funds and Supplies Saved and Accessible
- Make a Back-Up Plan
- Protect Your Identity
- Know Who to Trust
Being financially prepared for minor and major setbacks and emergencies may be the most important step you can take. Most people know that it is a wise idea to build up an emergency fund for the unexpected. Part of this fund—but only part—should be in cash, in the event that ATMs are not working and banks are closed. However, the entire fund should not be in cash because this would make the fund vulnerable to risks such as fire and theft.
It is also a good idea to make an emergency supply kit containing food for several days, medicine, and other necessary items. Supply chains are often disrupted by disasters, and properly stocking a kit in advance will ensure that you will not have to pay the inflated prices often seen after a disaster occurs.
Back up all of your personal records and financial data—such as checking and savings accounts, insurance policies, and any creditor information—either on paper, in a secure cloud storage account, on an external hard-drive, or somewhere else secure and accessible. Set up automatic transactions like bill pay and direct deposit in case you have to be away from your home for a long period of time. And make a list of reliable people as emergency contacts.
Keep all of your important documents—such as passports, military orders, and financial records—either in a secure waterproof/fireproof place or with someone you trust. Not only will this provide protection against identity thieves, it will also help you to resume your regular financial routine or get emergency services after a disaster.
It is an unfortunate fact that scammers and fraudsters often flock to areas just hit by a disaster in the hope of finding more victims. If you need aid, make sure that you know who you're dealing with—a well-known organization such as the Red Cross, a military aid society, or a federal agency—and do not trust every person claiming to provide emergency services independently.
By following these steps, you will be prepared both materially and financially if a disaster strikes, giving you one less thing to worry about.