Natural Disasters: 8 Tips for Homeowners to Prepare For The Worst

(StatePoint) Climate change is making natural disasters more extreme, from extending the duration of disaster seasons to increasing fires, storms, and floods. Indeed, the U.S. Geological Survey notes that the intensity of storms will likely increase with increasing global surface temperatures. The agency also predicts coastal flooding to double in the coming decades.

Health and safety are first priorities after a disaster, but financial resilience is critical too. If you’re a homeowner — or a prospective homeowner — here’s how you can get prepared:

Top Financial Tips To Deal With A Natural Disaster

Compile documents: Assemble important financial documents. Store paper copies of all files in a fireproof and waterproof box or safe or in a bank safe deposit box. Consider making digital copies for easy accessibility. Store these in a password-protected format on a removable flash or external hard drive, in your fireproof and waterproof box or safe, in a bank safe deposit box, or with a secure cloud-based service.

• Understand your insurance coverage: Having adequate insurance will ensure protection in times of need. The extent of your coverage will depend on where you live and what types of disasters your location may be at risk for. Review your policy annually and make changes or additions as needed.

Update documents: Regularly revisit and update documents, particularly if you have significant changes in your life, such as marriage, death, or the birth of a child.

Start saving: If you’re able, start saving today. Having an emergency budget allows you to react quickly if you’re affected by a disaster. Plus, households that have an emergency saving account tend to fare better overall.

Go electronic: If you depend on regular benefits such as Social Security, consider switching to electronic benefits to protect yourself should mail service be disrupted during a disaster.

Know the plans: Stay up-to-date with the emergency plans in your community, children’s schools, and place of work. Make a communications plan for your own household and share it with all the members of your family. Get up to speed with your own special skills that will bring you through any trying time.

Seek disaster relief: Contact your loan servicer right away if a natural disaster has impacted your home. Your loan servicer may be able to extend a full range of relief options, including suspending foreclosures by providing forbearance on your mortgage payments for up to 12 months, waiving assessments of penalties or late fees, and not reporting delinquencies to the nation’s credit bureaus. Then, about one month before the end of your forbearance period, contact your mortgage company to determine the most appropriate option for re-establishing your mortgage payments.

Become a savvy homeowner: Familiarize yourself with how to prepare your home for natural disasters and extreme weather, as well as where to find resources to help recover if disaster strikes. Freddie Mac’s My Home website has a comprehensive suite of tools and resources about homeownership, including details on support options if you are struggling to make your mortgage payments, at myhome.freddiemac.com/getting-help.

Natural disasters can strike at any time and with little warning. However, proper preparation can help you weather the storm. But preparing for a natural disaster by putting your financial house in order is only the first step. Here are other tips to give you the knowledge and skills to weather a disaster.

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