By now you’ve probably heard about the viral appeal from a father who longed to see his deceased son’s memory video created by Facebook for the company’s 10-year anniversary. Unfortunately, he couldn’t see the video because he didn’t have his son’s passwords and his account had been locked. It’s not something we think about often. We all go about our business typing in passwords here, there, and everywhere for just about everything we do online. If you’re like most people, those passwords and user names are tucked away in your brain where sometimes even YOU can’t remember them! So, what happens to all of that online “stuff” when you’re gone or just unable to communicate for some reason? Does your spouse have a list? Does anyone? Let’s be honest. Do YOU have a list? Do you really want your family and friends locked out of important accounts because no one knows your passwords? Of course not! What a nightmare!
Every year, millions of people fail to record or remember valuable information regarding their life insurance policies, real estate holdings, personal property, wills, powers of attorney and more.
The problem most of us have is lack of organization. We record our information in so many different places that we can’t find it easily or worse, can’t remember where it is at all! When important information is scattered about, we often forget to update it regularly or lose it all together.
But you’re not “most of us.” As a member of the military, you have chosen a particularly high risk occupation. And there are many things you may need to do to prepare for deployment, the risk of injury or even death on the battlefield. TIME is of the essence, and preparedness is your daily way of life — you have to be ready at a moment’s notice for any and every emergency, and so does your family. You don’t have the luxury of disorganization that most Americans have.
There are services out there to help you keep track of all your online and offline information. At ASMBA, a non-profit fraternal benefit association for military personnel and retirees under 65, we are always looking for new services to offer our members that provide solutions to problems just like this. One of these services is Insurance Lockbox.
What is Insurance Lockbox and why does ASMBA offer it to our members?
Insurance Lockbox is an online storage system that puts all your personal information related to insurance, financial accounts, important documents, real estate holdings, and you guessed it — online account information — into one place in case something were to happen to you during deployment or stateside. The goal is to provide the person you trust with an easy and quick way to recall:
- What you have
- Where it is located
- How to find it
- How to access it
- Who to contact
Services like Insurance Lockbox provide a safe place to gather information related to:
- Insurance policies
- Checking accounts (online or not)
- Brokerage accounts, mutual funds, and retirement accounts
- Real estate
- Personal property including cars, boats, RV’s, four-wheelers, and trailers
- Professional service providers such as doctors, lawyers, financial advisors, stock brokers, and accountants
- Location information on wills, tax returns, mortgage documents, deeds, birth certificates, and marriage licenses
- Personal health information on prescription drugs, pharmacists, and doctors
- Final wish instructions and burial information
One of the things ASMBA likes about Insurance Lockbox is that they have taken extreme measures to ensure your information is safe. They use secure web servers and data encryption. And, the personal information stored on Insurance Lockbox is not sufficient for identity theft. They don't need or want your social security number or complete account numbers. Their system is designed to provide only enough information for you and/or your family as a reminder of your important insurance policies, accounts, and service professionals. You are the only person given authority to access your information. You may designate an authorized user who may view (but not edit/change) your information.
Wouldn’t it be just as easy to make a spreadsheet and record all that information yourself?
Well, that depends. Are you really organized? Are you committed to maintaining and updating the list? Do you regularly back up your computer files? The fact is that deployment often comes whether you’re ready or not. And, unfortunately, injuries are a part of war. Will your spouse know where to find all the information they need if something were to happen? Do you have information stored in several different locations?
How much do services like this cost?
The cost varies from company to company and some offer group rate discounts for corporations and organizations like ASMBA members. It may be worth checking with the membership organizations you are involved with to see if they offer discounts for services like this or other services as part of their member benefits.
When selecting a service to help you organize and maintain a log of your account information, it’s important to make sure the company uses secure web servers and data encryption.
Second, it is wise to make sure that the personal information the service stores for its customers is not sufficient for identity theft. You don’t want your social security number or complete account numbers stored so that in the event someone were able to overcome all the service’s safety barriers and security features the information available would be practically useless.
And finally, please remember that technology is never 100% foolproof, but it’s certainly better than your loved ones not knowing how to access important information in a financial or emotional crisis.