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How Miami residents can prepare their finances for hurricane season

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As we enter what’s predicted to be an above-average hurricane season, many Miami residents may have an emergency plan, but it’s also important to make sure you are financially ready.

Here are five tips to help you prepare ahead of the significant impacts of a storm:

1. Create a financial first-aid kit. Put copies of any physical financial documents that might be needed immediately in a waterproof “go-bag, which could include” financial statements, utility bills, credit card statements, and more.  Consider switching to secure electronic delivery for banks, credit cards, and other financial statements to prevent misplacing hard-copy financial records during a hurricane.

2. Protect and preserve important documents. Store other key papers that could likely be needed, such as recent tax returns, property deeds, and brokerage and retirement account information, in a safe deposit box or safe that can resist fire, water, or structural damage to your home. You may consider scanning important documents and uploading them to a reliable cloud-based storage service.

3. Evaluate your insurance. Your current homeowner policies may not give adequate protection around certain natural disasters such as floods. Whether you rent or own, it’s a good practice to take pictures or a video of the property — inside and out. Also note the make, model, serial number, and purchase date of big-ticket items such as electronics, artwork, or jewelry you may have to leave behind. Lastly, be sure to upgrade your insurance whenever you update your home.

4. Establish a source of ready cash. Even with insurance, disaster-related out-of-pocket costs — including unplanned living expenses, if you’re displaced for a time — can be high. To bolster your emergency savings, consider talking with a financial advisor about potentially opening a flexible line of credit such as a home equity line of credit (HELOC) that you can tap into in the event of an emergency. You could also consider obtaining a line of credit secured with other assets, such as your investments, or see if your bank has low-cost, short-term loan programs.

5. Share information with family members. In many households, one person may typically manage the majority of financial activities. It’s important that other family members know what expenses/bills have to be paid, where to locate the checking and savings accounts, and other important documents. Having regular family financial meetings to discuss where stuff is stored, and how your filing system works can prevent potential confusion and miscommunication.

Following tips like these can help ensure you are better financially prepared for the next hurricane.

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