June 1st is the commencement of hurricane season, with Jacksonville, FL residing within the thousands of miles of Atlantic coastline, the possibility of damage is real. As any good planner would believe, you can never be too prepared. Before we fall into the hurricane cone of uncertainty you should have a plan in place.
Your physical health and safety are the most important. Your financial well-being is just behind that. The City of Jacksonville provides lots of resources to assist in your preparation for these types of situations and up until June 10th, the state of Florida is offering a “tax-free holiday” on hurricane supplies. If you have been living in the state of Florida for several years, you are probably familiar with the typical hurricane preparedness supply lists. Good preparation goes well beyond those typical supplies. Financial preparedness will also help you weather the storm, ease anxiety, and help minimize the financial hardships. Here are some tips:
Verify Your Coverage
Are you covered? It can be reassuring to know and understand what benefits your insurance provides. Contact your insurance agent to learn what coverages you have regarding hurricane-related hazards. Many people do not realize that special terms and deductibles usually apply to hurricane damage and that you must purchase flood insurance separately.
Loss or damage to our home is certainly an emergency. It is a good reminder that your emergency reserve should include funds to cover your hurricane deductible. It is also important to note that you should not wait until the last minute. Calling your insurance agent when Jim Cantore shows up in your town will not likely provide you coverage. Flood insurance policies generally take effect 30 days after your purchase.
While most homeowners’ policies increase to keep up with inflation, home values have rapidly exceeded even the highest inflation numbers over the past year. Insurance policies may not have kept up. Review your policies to see if you have any shortfalls and adjust for them as soon as possible.
Document Your Valuables
After a disaster, do you think you could list and accurately value your personal property just from memory? On a good day, many of us would struggle with that exercise, with the emotion of experiencing a significant loss, my guess is preparing a full itemized list would be difficult.
If you need to file a claim, a complete inventory of your possessions can help you document your loss for the insurance company. You should keep a list that includes the description of your property, the date of purchase, the original cost, and any improvements. Serial numbers and receipts are also helpful for documentation. Do a complete scan of all the rooms in your house, outside grounds, attic, and garage. Let modern technology help you document the items you own. Take close-up pictures of your valuable items, such as artwork, jewelry, and antiques. Those photos can also be a great way to document the serial numbers of your equipment. Once you’ve established a complete inventory, it shouldn’t be too hard to update periodically.
Organize & Store Your Important Financial Documents
When you are stocking up on all your household supplies in advance of a hurricane, you probably are not thinking about the importance of your financial documents. May things are difficult to process without documentation, and some items are time-consuming to replace. Here is a quick checklist of things that may be helpful to gather and safeguard:
- Birth certificate or adoption certificate
- Passports or citizenship paperwork
- Social Security Card
- Driver’s license
- Marriage certificate
- Divorce decree
- Child custody papers
- Military discharge papers and ID
- Medical records, including immunization records, and prescription information)
- Pet records
- Loan documents
- Insurance contracts (including the list of valuables form above)
- Insurance agents name and phone number
- Real estate deeds or rental/lease agreements
- Titles to property (house, car, boat, etc.)
- Financial statements
- Living Will
- Power of Attorney
- HIPAA documents
- Trust documents
- Legal name change documentation
It would be best if you stored all this information in a waterproof secure place. For additional safety, you should consider storing copies in separate locations.
Prepare for Power Outages
Many of us could not imagine a life not connected to our electronic devices. Yet power outages, sometimes prolonged power outages, are commonplace during and after the effects of a hurricane. Besides preparing for the loss of power by gathering flashlights and batteries, and fully charging your electronic devices, consider how the loss of electricity could affect you outside your home. Power outages can also prevent access to ATMs and may limit your ability to use credit/debit cards. In preparation, it is a good idea to keep some cash on hand.
The Bottom Line: Stay Safe
Despite all our technologies and advances in society, nature remains as unpredictable as the stock market. We do, however, have control of how we prepare. Preparation through education is usually less painful and may be less costly than learning through tragedy. Hurricane season lasts until November 30th, stay safe.
This material is provided as a courtesy and for educational purposes only. Investing involves risk including loss of principal. Please consult your investment professional, legal or tax advisor for specific information pertaining to your situation. This article contains links to articles or other information that may be contained on a third-party website. River City Wealth Management is not responsible for and does not control, adopt, or endorse any content contained on any third-party website. The information contained herein is derived from sources deemed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed. Past performance is not indicative of future results.