When it comes to hurricane preparedness, you’ve probably seen all the lists of supplies to stock and ways to prepare your property in order to minimize damage. Most people don’t think about the implications for their finances and personal business until after the storm has passed. Here are a few things to consider before the next big storm or disaster strikes.
Keep important documents safe and handy.
Remember that you may be without power and/or internet access for a period after the storm passes. Keep all your insurance information (policy numbers and contact numbers) accessible—health, homeowner’s or renter’s, auto, and any other applicable policies. If you need to make a claim, you won’t want to delay until you can use your computer. Take photos and/or videos of your property before the storm so you have a record in the event of a claim.
It’s also a good idea to compile anything you would need if you must evacuate—birth certificates, IDs and passports, important addresses and phone numbers, etc. Don’t rely on your phone to hold all this information—have a hard copy backup that doesn’t require charging and can be kept dry.
Back up your data on the cloud.
Computer hardware can easily be damaged in a hurricane. Don’t lose your data—set up a cloud-based backup that will allow you to retrieve everything. You can shift everything on your hard drive to cloud storage or use a service that automatically backs up everything you save. From photos to documents to important records, it’s all worth your peace of mind to back it up.
Be aware of upcoming due dates and deadlines.
Although it can feel like your world has stopped when a disaster strikes, bills and deadlines continue to apply. Wherever possible, schedule payments in advance to avoid late charges and interest. Sometimes companies will waive late fees after the fact of a disaster. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s worth contacting the creditor to ask.
If you suffer property damage, investigate tax deductions.
If your area has been declared a disaster area by the President of the United States, you may be able to deduct your losses on your tax return. First, file a claim with your insurance. If the settlement doesn’t cover the total amount of your loss, look into the disaster loss deduction.
For example, say you park your car near the ocean before a hurricane, and a storm surge destroys your vehicle. The area where the hurricane occurred is declared a federal disaster area. Start by filing a claim with your insurance. If the insurance company reimburses you the cost of your vehicle, you don’t have a tax deduction. However, if the insurance company only reimburses you a portion of the vehicle’s worth, you may be able to deduct the unreimbursed portion because it’s considered a loss to you. Always consult with a tax professional to ensure you’re taking the appropriate deduction.