Thankfully, Hurricane Matthew was not as destructive as was predicted. However, thousands of people were affected, not only by the storm itself but also by the warnings to evacuate their home, which thousands of people followed. Just think, if you were told that for whatever reason you had to immediately vacate your home, the question is are you prepared and what would you take. Particularly when a storm is rapidly approaching, it would seem that most people would focus on taking with them family heirlooms and other precious items. What many people tend to forget is that in addition to taking the aforementioned items, it is important not to forget to include financial information that may be essential in case you do not have access to your home.
In today’s world where things are much more complex, it is important for everyone to take some time and think about what financial information they would need in case of a disaster. I believe everyone needs some sort of disaster plan to protect themselves in cases of emergency. In other words, if you didn’t have access to your online accounts, how difficult would it be to manage your financial affairs? The bottom line, everyone needs some sort of disaster plan and the time to do it is not when a disaster is approaching.
In developing some sort of disaster plan, the first thing is to decide what information you would need if you were evacuated and did not have access to your home. Here are some things that I think should be in most people’s disaster plan. The first would be the name, account number and phone number of your homeowner’s and automobile insurance company. In addition, you should also have the name and number of your agent. After all, if for some reason you were evacuated from your home there are benefits you are entitled to; however, as we all know with insurance companies the burden is on you to put a claim in. In addition, your disaster plan should also have all the account information including passwords and login information for your bank accounts and other financial institutions you deal with. I would also make sure that you have copies of important documents such as medical and durable powers of attorney, driver’s license and passports. Lastly, you should also make copies of your health insurance information, including account numbers and contact information.
The aforementioned is just some suggestions of things you should have. The key is to ask yourself if you did not have access to your home, what financial information and legal information are you going to need to protect yourself.
The next question is where you keep this information. In today’s world there are more options than ever before. You can keep this information off location such as in your office or even store it online. The bottom line, you want to make sure that in the unlikely event that a disaster does affect you, you will have immediate access to this information.
Disasters like Hurricane Matthew can be very destructive and damaging. However, you can take some steps such as setting up a disaster plan that will make handling the crisis much easier. One last note, once you do set up a disaster plan it is important that you periodically update it. After all, in today’s world we all know how fast things change and our disaster plan is not something to do once and forget about; rather, it’s something that occasionally needs to be updated.
Rick is a fee-only financial advisor. His website is www.bloomassetmanagement.com. If you would like Rick to respond to your questions, please email Rick at -.