Just the word hurricane evokes feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. In preparing for damaging winds and rain, much thought is given to protecting property while financial preparation is overlooked. No matter your income level, there are ways to prepare financially for hurricane season. By using a proactive strategy, you and your family will be better prepared for the financial storm that accompanies hurricanes.
1. Emergency Only Credit Card
Having a credit card designated as an emergency only card is one way to financially prepare for a hurricane. The card should have a credit limit that allows for purchasing enough supplies for at least 10 days. An emergency only credit card also provides valid documentation of your emergency expenses.
2. Keep Cash Handy
If there are warnings of a possible hurricane, be sure to have cash on hand. Financial institutions and ATMs may be inaccessible once a storm hits due to loss of electricity, or flooding.
3. Emergency Fund
Build an emergency fund by setting aside a few dollars each week. Keep saving until you have saved enough to cover 10 days of expenses. Even if weather reports predict a mild hurricane season, continue building your fund as weather patterns change and are unpredictable.
4. Get Benefits Electronically
Social security benefits and other forms of payment are something you or your family may already receive electronically. If not, ensure that you are set up to receive funds in this manner. Doing so will make access to the money easier in times of bad weather.
5. Flood Proof Important Documents
Secure photocopies of important documents in sealable plastic bags. For the best protection, take digital photos of the documents. Financial records, property and medical insurance, along with birth and marriage certificates are examples of documents you want to protect.
6. FEMA Financial First Aid Kit
FEMA offers a free financial first aid kit that provides helpful information. This flexible toolkit is designed to help you collect and secure the financial information you need in the event of a natural disaster. Learn more about FEMA’s Financial First Aid Kit here.
7. Check Your Insurance Coverage
Follow up with your insurance company at the beginning of every hurricane season. Review your coverage for home and property damage. Don’t assume you have the same coverage as the previous hurricane season. Understanding your policy will give you peace-of-mind and helps in starting the recovery process sooner rather than later. It also gives you with some indication of what to expect regarding repairs to your home and property.
8. Service Your Vehicle
Preparing your vehicle for a possible mandatory evacuation is crucial to evacuating quickly. Maintenance items such as oil change, tire rotation, and even new wipers are always good ideas. Keeping your car’s fuel tank filled is also a great idea as a storm approaches. This avoids long lines later and preventive maintenance keeps you from searching for a mechanic during the storm.
9. Prepare for a Hotel Stay
Review what, if any, hotel reward programs you belong to. Research hotels outside the standard evacuation area and inquire about their policies during hurricane season. Keep pets in mind and check to see if the hotel is pet-friendly. Pack a ready-to-go bag with extra medicines, batteries, and snacks for the road. Store a package of bottled water in the back of your vehicle at the beginning of hurricane season.
10. Be Proactive
There’s no need to panic at the first mention of the word hurricane, but it is smart to be prepared. By being proactive, especially when it comes to your finances, will ease stress when the hurricane arrives. Knowing you have a financial plan in place and cash saved for the road makes it easier to concentrate on evacuating. Hurricane season is a force of Mother Nature and it is important to take it seriously. Having your finances in order ahead of the storm prevents panic and over payment for goods and services after the hurricane.
Information appearing in this article is obtained from sources we believe are reliable. The information may not be a complete statement of all available data and is not guaranteed as such. Marine FCU is not responsible for the contents of this article and advises its membership to investigate claims before following the information provided.