Image source: MOAA
With content from USAA
With the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, natural disasters are in the headlines -- are you fully prepared in case one strikes you? Here are some tips to make sure your finances are in order before disaster strikes.
Most people couldn't list all the items in their living room without looking. Make and save an inventory now, so you'll know exactly what's been lost later -- this will help you during the insurance claim process. A video or digital record of your possessions is also extremely useful.
Store your written and visual inventories in a safe place away from your home, such as a safe-deposit box. Keep a copy of the written inventory at home for reference. Update both copies at least once a year, or whenever you make a major purchase.
You can download free home inventory software from the Insurance Information Institute.
Your bills may be the last thing on your mind after a storm hits, so set up an automatic payment plan -- such as USAA Web BillPay? -- to ensure your payments are always made on time.
Make sure you have a credit card with at least $1,000 available. Get receipts for cash purchases before and after a storm.
There are two components to this option -- first, have a set sum deposited into a savings account each month, until you have enough to pay for three to six months of critical expenses. Local financial institutions can be closed for a few days after a natural disaster, and ATMs could be out of order even longer, so always have enough cash tucked away -- at least $200 -- before a pending disaster to pay for emergency expenses. Also, remember to keep food and lodging receipts, as they may be reimbursed through your policy coverage.
Fortify your roof, windows, garage and entry doors. The Institute for Business & Home Safety offers a comprehensive preparation guide.
Write down your policy numbers, and all phone and email contact information, for all your insurance policies. Keep them stored in a safe place or in the care of family members you trust. You can also store your information privately online, on a site such as adrive, where you can access it anywhere.
Put your important insurance and financial documents into a safe-deposit box. Some important items you should store:
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