Posted August 2016 by Cole Murray and Melissa Abraham-Smith
Natural disasters are unpredictable and can be life changing if caught up in them. The recent storms and following gastro illness in Havelock North has made us all think differently about how we would get through a disaster.
Whilst the main emphasis should obviously be placed on preparing for the immediate survival of your family, e.g. meeting points, food and water, it’s also a must to look at the serious financial needs and issues that can affect you.
Let’s consider what financial life might look like in the hours and days following a natural disaster.
Banking services could be disrupted and could limit your access to cash. EFTPOS facilities may be down at retailers, limiting your ability to buy your essentials. Government assistance, insurance and other financial relief may not return you to the financial position you previously enjoyed.
You will ultimately remain responsible for most, if not all, your debts and other financial obligations as soon as disaster hits.
Be prepared and consider the following tips to help you manage your financial situation:
- Make copies of important records and documents and store in a secure place. Items should include credit card numbers, insurance policies, financial records, tax records, loan and mortgage documents, deed and titles, will and trust, prescriptions and medical records, emergency contact lists. Don’t rely on your phone in case you aren’t able to charge it!
- Use today’s technology to scan and store important records onto cloud-based storage or a portable storage device like a USB stick or SD card.
- Compile and maintain a one-page financial contacts list. This should include the phone numbers of companies you may need to contact, as well as your account numbers. Include your insurer, accountant, lawyer etc.
- Ensure you have access to cash. Carry your EFTPOS and credit card at all times. Build an emergency balance in your cheque or savings account that you can tap into if a crisis hits. Consider applying now for an emergency line of credit (e.g. a revolving credit facility on your mortgage or an overdraft on your cheque account) – the idea being that you only access these funds in an emergency (just make sure you don’t incur fees on this service while you are not using it).
- Make sure you review your insurance regularly and are confident that you are covered as much as possible for protecting yourself, your family and your assets (like the family home). Beware of pitfalls in the fine print such as who will pay out in a disaster and in how long it will take (we have Christchurch to thank for these lessons), and seek the guidance of an adviser if you need it.
- Have spare keys cut and stored away.
- Most importantly, get started today!
This article has been provided by Cole Murray, advisers in insurance and all things financial.
For more information on risk management and personal insurance advice visit http://www.colemurray.co.nz/services/risk-management/.
A disclosure statement is available, on request and free of charge.