Natural disasters are difficult to prepare for and the wake
of damage they create can linger long after the danger
subsides. The total impact of disasters like Hurricane Sandy,
the drought in the Corn Belt, the Colorado wild fires and the
more than two dozen tornadoes that hit the South last January
is massive. It can take a toll on personal, state and federal
As with most things in life, the key to financially surviving
the aftermath of a natural disaster is careful planning for
the unknown. Pat O'Connell, senior vice president of the
Ameriprise Advisor Group at Ameriprise Financial suggests
these tips, designed to help you prepare for an event that
you don't necessarily plan on.
1.Prepare a financial emergency kit. Include things like
extra cash, a written or photographed inventory of all of
your belongings, a recent backup of your computer files on a
flash drive, insurance records, and information for your bank
accounts, credit cards and investment accounts. You may also
choose to keep social security cards, birth certificates,
wills and deeds in the same place. Store them in a sturdy,
water and fire proof container. Keep your emergency kit in a
location where you would seek shelter in the event of a storm
or in an easy-to-access spot if an evacuation is necessary.
2.Disaster-proof your home. There are several basic
improvements you can make to help protect your home from
disaster. Before you reach for the hammer, however, talk with
your insurance agent and determine whether changes change
your insurance premiums. Things like strengthening entry
doors, securing and bracing the roof with heavy duty anchors,
caulking openings around doors and windows, covering attic
and crawl space vents, replacing an aging roof and installing
window shutters may help if disaster strikes. They might also
increase the value of your home as well.
3.Protect your property and possessions. No matter what you
do to protect yourself and your home, some disasters cause
unavoidable property damage. You can improve your recovery
from such disasters with renter's or homeowner's insurance.
Full replacement cost coverage, for example, will help
eliminate any out-of-pocket costs if a disaster does destroy
your possessions or home. Take note that homeowner's
insurance doesn't always cover every loss. Ask your agent
about any additional coverage you need in the event of a
flood or earthquake. If you live in an area that's not prone
to a certain kind of environmental event (like a flood) but
it's possible that it could occur and damage your home,
consider the appropriate insurance coverage. Also consider
adding a "rider" to your policy to protect expensive
possessions like jewelry, antiques or home office equipment.
4.Complete a home inventory. A written and photographed
inventory of possessions in your home is one of the most
reliable documents for those who experience a catastrophic
loss of property and possessions. In just a few hours, you
can list everything you own, take a few photos or video of
certain possessions and store copies both in your emergency
readiness kit and at your workplace or other location for
safe keeping. If a disaster happens, this inventory of your
belongings will help insurance adjusters value your
possessions and speed up the replacement process.
5.Create an emergency financial plan. A traditional financial
plan is designed to help you prepare for life events like
your child's college education and your retirement. With just
a little more thought and planning, you can also protect
yourself from financial devastation if a disaster strikes.
One of the first steps to consider is creating an emergency
savings account. You should aim to save the equivalent of
three to six months of normal living expenses that you can
easily access following a disaster or life crisis - like a
divorce or sudden disability. Set up a savings account and
consider doing an automatic payroll deduction as a painless
way to save for potential emergencies. You'll be glad you
have the extra money when you need it most.
Unexpected environmental disasters will never be predictable,
but they can be planned for. Consider meeting with a
financial advisor who can help you determine what types of
insurance coverage are right for you and your family, and how
to begin saving for any kind of emergency.
Be sure to ask your sales representative about the
insurance policy's features, benefits and fees, and whether
the insurance is appropriate for you, based upon your
financial situation and objectives.
Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services
are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services,
Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. Some products and services may
not be available in all jurisdictions or to all