Three Steps to Prep your Pocketbook for Disasters

CHICAGO – April 1st kicks off Financial Capability Month, a perfect time to take smart and simple steps to protect your financial future. These considerations are even more important with the heightened severe weather risks the Spring season can bring—are you financially capable to recover if disaster strikes your community?

“Disasters can be overwhelming and chaotic—don’t let financial uncertainty worsen the situation,” said James K. Joseph, regional administrator for FEMA Region V in Chicago. “Take the time now to ensure important documents are safely stored, your insurance coverage is adequate, and you have enough money on-hand to meet your family’s immediate, emergency needs if something unexpected occurs.”

Set aside enough cash to get you and your family through multiple days after an emergency. Consider costs to temporarily house, clothe and feed your family for up to a week. This is especially important if ATMs, banks and credit card machines aren’t functional due to an extended power outage. Include smaller bills as well, in case stores can’t make change. If putting aside that much money isn’t an immediate option, consider saving in smaller increments to eventually save the amount you may need.

Have copies of important personal and family information. If you lost everything in a disaster, what will you use to prove your identity to get credit cards reissued, file insurance claims, or request disaster assistance? Have extra originals or copies of passports, driver’s licenses, birth and marriage certificates, adoption decrees, Social Security cards and military records stored in a safe, easily accessible location—such as a safe deposit box, external hard drive or the cloud—to avoid any issues.

Obtain property insurance. Talk to your insurance agent about the coverage your home may need. Review existing policies and ensure the amount and extent are adequate to cover losses from any possible hazard. Homeowners insurance covers wind damage, but a rider needs to be added to insure against sewer backup. In addition, homeowners insurance doesn’t typically cover flooding, so you may need to purchase flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Remember, there is a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy becomes effective, so act now to ensure you have coverage in place if floodwaters threaten your home. Learn more about your flood insurance options by visiting www.FloodSmart.gov.

An easy way to start preparing your finances for an emergency is by completing an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit. This important document offers guidance on organizing and securing important documents, provides important advice on managing finances, and describes what to expect should a disaster strike your community. For even more information on how to financially prepare for an unexpected emergency or disaster, visit www.ready.gov/financial-preparedness.

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