With Toronto under a tornado watch Wednesday night, my husband rushed outside to put away our patio umbrella so it wouldn’t fly onto our roof or into our neighbour’s pool, as it has during other storms.
Another thing we don’t want to see blowing around the neighbourhood is our important paperwork, which is why we keep it in a safe place. That way, if our house is ever destroyed, we’ll at least have the documents we need to get money from the bank and file an insurance claim.
It certainly feels like the sky is falling lately, with Sunday’s tornado in Goderich, Ont., Tuesday’s earthquake in Virginia and a hurricane approaching the U.S. east coast. It’s a good reminder of the need to be financially prepared for an emergency.
The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) recently compiled a few helpful tips to help consumers put their financial documents in order to prepare for unexpected natural disasters.
The first tip is to keep important documents in a bank safe-deposit box. The ICBA recommends putting everything from your marriage certificate to your tax returns in there, and making copies to keep at home in a sealed plastic bag to keep out moisture.
Think about all the paperwork you keep at home: property deeds, birth certificates, wills, insurance policies, passports, health cards, immunization records, credit card account numbers, car titles or lease contracts, bank and investment account numbers – these are not the sorts of things you want to be without in an emergency, and are a major hassle to replace if they’re destroyed.
The ICBA also recommends stashing a list of household valuables and photos of these items in a safe place in case you need to make an insurance claim.
Think about important records that you might store on your computer as well. You may not be able to access them if your computer is stolen, destroyed, or even if the power fails, so keep printouts in a safe place or keep copies on an external device or secure web storage facility.
“Having a financial preparedness plan will protect you and your loved ones from the headaches that you’ll incur if your important financial documents are damaged or go missing,” said Sal Marranca, ICBA chairman.
And once you have peace of mind about your financial documents, you can focus on other things, like keeping your patio furnishings from impaling your neighbours.