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Do You Have a Financial Emergency Kit?

You could lose everything in a natural disaster, but recovery can be a lot easier if you have these documents somewhere safe

Natural disasters are one of those things that we often don’t plan for until it’s too late.

The fact is that fires, floods, and severe storms can leave you homeless and in financial ruin. Many people have emergency kits with items such as water, medications, whistles, and canned food. But what about our financial emergency kits?

Here are some of the documents and items you should have on hand in the event of losing everything in a natural disaster.

  • Have both the original and a copy of your identification. This should include such things as driver’s license, Social Security card, passport, and birth certificate.
  • Have a complete list of emergency contacts for your financial institutions and brokerage firms.
  • Make a list of your insurance information including policy numbers and contact information. This includes medical, homeowners, auto, renters, and any additional insurance policies you carry.
  • In addition to your medical insurance information, have the names and dosage of any medications you currently take.
  • It doesn’t hurt to have cash on hand should you not be able to use credit cards or get cash from an ATM. Consider keeping an extra, current credit card in your kit as well.

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If you do lose items due to a natural disaster it is always good to have an inventory of high-value items. Document these items with photos, receipts or any other proof of value. Keep all of these items secure in a water- and fire-proof case near an exit in your home. Have a back-up of these documents with a family or friend in the event you aren’t able to get to your kit. Some people keep copies of these documents in a safe deposit box with their bank. Keep in mind, most safe deposit boxes are not waterproof so you should seal your documents in a waterproof container or bag.

Fortunately, we live in a digital age so keeping these documents stored electronically can be beneficial in the event you are unable to grab your kit. Make sure to have extra levels of security to access this information. Much of our banking can also be done online should banks in your area be shut down. Make sure you know your passwords so that you can successfully log-in.

If you have any property damage be sure to report it to your insurance company as soon as possible. Take photos of damage and try not to throw away anything until a claims adjuster can evaluate the damage. If you do need to repair anything, save your receipts.

Jeanette Pavini is an Emmy Award winning journalist specializing in consumer news and protection. She is the author of “The Joy of $aving: Money Lessons I Learned From My Italian-American Father & 20 Years as a Consumer Reporter.” Jeanette is a regular contributor to TheStreet. Her work includes reporting for CBS, MarketWatch, WSJ Sunday, and USA Today. Jeanette has contributed to “The Today Show” and a variety of other media outlets. You can follow her money saving tips and ways to give back on Facebook: Jeanette Pavini: The Joy of $aving Community. Find links to her social media and her book at JeanettePavini.com.