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6 Tips to Avoid Financial Disaster During Hurricane Season

Written by:
Financial Literacy Specialist

June 1st marks the official start of the 2024 hurricane season (one that’s predicted to be a doozy) which means it’s time to start preparing. But being prepared for storms means more than just stocking up on canned foods, water, and batteries. Natural disasters can quickly lead to financial disasters with the aftermath of storms leaving people displaced, without employment, or injured — just one of which can quickly wipe out a savings account. Here are 6 tips for avoiding a financial state of emergency this storm season.

1. Have renter’s insurance

If any of your belongings are damaged due to a natural disaster, having renter’s insurance can help you recoup at least some of the value. However, renter’s insurance only applies to losses that occur after your policy is active. You wouldn’t receive any protections if you were to enroll in a policy after disaster has already struck. Make sure to enroll in a renter’s insurance policy before hurricane season approaches.   

2. Report property damage to ASAP

Inform the landlord of property damage immediately if there is structural damage to your accommodations; it’s their responsibility to repair any storm-related damage. The sooner you give notice of the necessary repairs, the sooner you may have a lawful defense against paying rent or negotiating a rent reduction. 

3. Ask lenders for a break

Many lenders offer payment assistance for natural disaster victims. Affected individuals will need to contact lenders and notify them of being impacted to take advantage of grace periods on things like mortgage and credit card payments. 

4. File for unemployment

If your employer is no longer in business as a direct result of the storm, you will likely be eligible for state unemployment benefits. Additionally, FEMA also offers Disaster Unemployment Assistance which offers payment to eligible individuals for up to 26 weeks after a natural disaster. File a claim through an unemployment agency in the state of your permanent residence (not a state agency where you may have temporarily relocated due to the storm).

5. Rebuild with reputable companies

Be careful with contractors; get estimates from more than one licensed, bonded, reputable contractor.  Check licenses and permits and get contracts in writing.  Find out what neighbors are paying for similar work. Pay as the work is getting done; do not pay upfront.  Be sure all official inspections and approvals are in place before making the final payment.

6. Protect your identity

Be careful who you give personal information to; you don’t want to be a victim of identity theft.  FEMA, insurance companies, and banks may need personal information such as social security numbers to verify your identity, but most organizations do not need this information.

Dealing with financial disaster? We can help

The last thing anyone needs to worry about in the wake of a storm is being worried about falling behind on paying bills. Knowing what resources are available in the aftermath of a disaster can make the difference between financial ruin or a temporary setback. 

One of the best ways to protect yourself financially is having a healthy emergency savings account. Not sure if you have enough saved? Contact a Consolidated Credit counselor today for personalized guidance on how much you should set aside to be prepared for the upcoming hurricane season.  

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