Fires, Floods and Other Misfortunes: Are You Prepared Financially?

Fires, Floods and Other Misfortunes: Are You Prepared Financially?

If you had only a few moments to evacuate your home would you financially prepared to be away for a while?

What to Have Ready:

  • Forms of identification:
    • These primarily include driver’s licenses (or state ID cards), insurance cards, Social Security cards, passports and birth certificates.
      • These documents will be crucial if you or your family needs to rebuild lost records or otherwise prove to a government agency, a bank or other business that you are who you claim to be.
      • It’s best to have the originals, but it’s also important to have photocopies in case originals are misplaced or destroyed.
  • Your checkbook with enough blank checks and deposit slips to last a month or so:
    • Even if you rarely or never write checks, at least consider having a copy of a check or your checking account number handy, because in an emergency, you can authorize an important payment by providing your checking account number over the phone.
  • ATM cards, debit cards, and credit cards:
    • These cards give you access to cash and the ability to make payments on outstanding bills. Most ATM and debit cards require personal identification numbers (PINs), so make sure you know those numbers. Don’t write your PINs on or near your cards in case they are lost or stolen.
  • Cash
  • Phone numbers for your financial services providers:Include local and toll-free numbers for your bank, credit card companies, brokerage firms, and insurance companies.
  • Important account numbers:
    • These include bank and brokerage account numbers, credit card numbers and homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy numbers.
  • The key to your safe deposit box:
    • You can’t get into your safe deposit box at the bank without your key, no matter how many forms of identification you have. While many banks may supply two keys for the box, simply giving someone else a key doesn’t allow that person access. They must be designated in the bank’s records as someone who has access to your box. Contact your bank about the proper arrangements.
  • Arrange for automatic bill payments from your bank account:
    • This service enables you to make scheduled payments for your phone bill, insurance premiums, loan payments and other essential bills.
  • Review your insurance coverage:
    • Make sure you have enough insurance to cover the cost to replace or repair your home, car and other valuable property.

What to Keep Where:

  • Determine what to keep at home and what to store in a safe deposit box at your bank:
    • A safe deposit box is best for protecting certain papers that could be difficult or impossible to replace (such as birth certificates and originals of important contracts), but not anything you might need to access quickly.
      • Consult your attorney for advice on the best place to store your will.
  • Seal the most important original documents in airtight and waterproof plastic bags to prevent water damage:
    • Be aware that safe deposit boxes are water resistant, not waterproof.
  • Prepare one or more emergency evacuation bags:
    • Most of what you’re likely to pack inside will be related to personal safety, but also keep some essential financial items and documents there, such as cash, checks, copies of your credit cards and identification cards, and a key to your safe deposit box.
    • The evacuation bag should be waterproof and easy to carry, and in a secure place at home.