Financial tips to help during a disaster.
Last year about this time a group of colleagues and I were able to tour the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Kansas City, Missouri. FEMA works in partnership with tribal, state and local emergency management officials, as well as non-governmental and private sector partners, to protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards. With the upcoming storm season, I would like to highlight some of the important information we learned while there as it relates to disasters and finances.
When planning for an emergency, it is important to communicate with your insurance agent to know what types of disasters your policy covers. Typical homeowner’s policies offer coverage caused by fires, lightning strikes, wind and hail. Damage caused by earthquakes, floods, mudslides and sinkholes are not typically covered. Know your deductibles and have a plan for covering those as well.
Our group asked the FEMA representatives what would be his number one piece of advice to someone that had just been hit by disaster. His response was to make sure to save receipts. Include receipts of the following:
- Items purchased for home repair
- Contractor invoices
- Hotel room charges if you received housing assistance
- Moving and storage expenses
- Items used for the repair or replacement of personal property
If you would like to help a community after disaster hits, FEMA staff members suggest that sending money rather than supplies is most helpful to communities in an emergency. Not only can the money be used to buy the specific items that are needed, it also helps to stimulate the local economy. Unsolicited donations of material goods create a challenge of storage and sorting when focus is needed on response and recovery. Financial gifts are the most needed and efficient way to help.
In deciding how to donate it was recommended to visit the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster website for a list of major non-profits that are active in disaster work.