Prepare Your Finances for a Natural Disaster
Regardless of where you live, natural disasters can occur – often with little warning. Your physical safety, and that of your loved ones, is paramount; but it also is important to prepare your finances in advance of a natural disaster. The following tips can help to ensure you are ready and informed if a disaster occurs.
Assemble an Emergency Financial First-Aid Kit
Similar in concept to an actual first-aid kit, the financial version contains a variety of items you will need in case of a natural disaster, depending on the situation. Essential items include:
- Social Security cards and birth certificates
- Mortgage, home, and auto insurance documents
- Bank routing and account numbers
- Wills and deeds
- Medical documents such as insurance cards and prescriptions
It’s also pragmatic to keep these items in the same location and even the same container. Doing so ensures that when you need to access these materials in an emergency situation, everything will be together and protected against certain types of disasters like a flood.
Review Your Insurance Policies
After you have collected your insurance documents, it’s a good idea to review them in detail. Basic items to check are expiration dates, deductible amounts, and coverage amounts (or limits). But digging deeper will help you prepare even more effectively. For example, instead of just knowing you have a current homeowner’s insurance policy, it would be wise to know exactly what is covered, what your out-of-pocket costs could be, and if there are any exclusions.
Inventory Your Possessions
One of the most important tips to help you prepare your finances for a natural disaster is to make a list of everything you own. It may seem overwhelming at first to inventory everything inside and outside of your house and car, but imagine how it would feel not to have this information after a disaster has struck? Insurance adjusters and agents will need to be able to access your inventory list in order to properly compensate or reimburse you for damages.
Review Your Budget
Having a detailed view into your monthly income and expenses is a good practice to adopt in general, but it is also helpful to ensure you can navigate a natural disaster financially. For example, a hurricane’s storm surge could cause enough damage to your car that it results in a total loss, which means you could be spending funds to rent a car for transportation until your insurance company can reimburse you.
Build an Emergency Fund
Another helpful preparation tip is to gradually build an emergency fund that can help with unforeseen expenses. These could include medical, transportation, and lodging, among others. Having funds set aside for emergencies will help you absorb these costs more effectively than using credit cards or personal loans.
Sign Up for Online and Mobile Banking
Regardless of your preferred banking method, going digital can prove to be effective in case of power outages or blocked roads, for example. Even if you don’t use the features all the time, you can certainly continue to pay bills and transfer money from your mobile device. For more information on how to sign up for these features at PlainsCapital Bank, please visit our Online and Mobile Banking page.
Unfortunately, natural disasters are a potential part of everyone’s life, so it makes sense to be prepared in a physical sense as well as a financial one. Remember, the time you take to plan in advance will be extremely valuable if a natural disaster occurs in the future.