Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Natural Disaster Financial Tips


There are many types of natural disasters that occur during a year such as hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoons, tsunamis, twisters, earthquakes and more. Recently several of the Midwest states have experienced damaging tornadoes. Some homes were completely blown away or toppled to the ground. After the dust has settled the first thing one thinks about what do I do know. The next thing to consider is their identity. When I heard the stories I started to wonder did they have a safe and copies of all of their bills and financial papers. How will they regain their identity and start their life again? What is the first thing they should do? These are just some of the questions that must be considered when rebuilding after experiencing a natural disaster. Here are 14 financial tips to help survive a natural disaster.

1. Notify. Contact all of your family and friends and employer and let them know what happened. Ask them if they know of any resources or people that can assist you with food, clothing and shelter.

2. Insurance. Contact your insurance company and put in a claim. Contact a lawyer to get legal advice and protection in the event your insurance company becomes difficult with reimbursing you for your loss.

3. Mail. Ask a friend or relative if you can use their address to receive mail temporarily. Go to your local post office and forward your mail to that address.

4. Inventory. Make a list of all the companies you do business with. Include the name of the company, mailing address, payment address, phone number, type of account and website. Go to a friend’s house or your local library and get the contact number for each company. Call each company and tell them you have been a victim of a natural disaster. Give them your temporary mailing address to get duplicate copies of all of your bills.

5. Identification. Contact your local passport, motor vehicle and social security administration office to get duplicate copies of your driver’s license, SSN and passport. Also contact your local Office of Vital Records, Public Health Department or county recorder’s office to get a duplicate copy of your birth certificate.

6. Financial. Contact all of your financial institutions and ask for duplicate copies of your financial statements. Go to your local bank branch and have a flag put on any unused checks if you know the check numbers. If not, order a new set of checks and have them mailed to the branch. Once you determine the numbers of the unused checks have the bank put a flag on them to prevent fraud. Ask for a new check card or debit card and pin.

7. Credit. Contact your credit card companies and ask for a new credit card for each of your accounts. They make ask you to complete an affidavit stating what happened. Contact the 3 major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion and place a credit freeze on your credit reports.

8. Media. If possible, purchase a small portable tv or radio to hear important information from the media about resources available for victims.

9. Property. If you have any property left that is not totally damaged leave the property where it is so the insurance company can examine the property and perform a full investigation. Make a list of all property that was in your home with the following information categorized by room: item, date purchased, estimated value, cost to replace the item, indicate if the item was insured, insurance company who insures the item, quantity and if the item was still under warranty.

10. Service Providers. Make a list of any other service providers that you do business with: mechanic, doctor, lawyer, accountant, financial planner, psychologist, marriage counselor, plumber, lawn care professional, professor, tax preparer, barber, hairdresser, etc. Include the name of the company, mailing address, payment address, phone number, and website.

11. Needs. Create of things you need to survive: food, toiletries, clothing, etc. Categorize by the name of each person in your family, size and the cost of each item.

12. Budget. Create a budget to determine how much money you earn after taxes, monthly bills and expenses and how much you will need to replace basic necessities.

13. Spend Wisely. Replace missing items by shopping at discount or outlet stores, buying in bulk and buying items on sale.

14. Live for Tomorrow. Document what you learned from this experience and steps to take if you ever have this type of experience in the future. Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. Purchase a fireproof and waterproof safe. Keep copies of your SSN, birth certificate, driver’s license, bills, financial statements, will, taxes, insurance papers, mortgage paperwork, and credit card statements in the safe. Also keep a list of all of your inventory lists in the safe.

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