by Megan Marquardt, CFP, CTFA
Wealth Services, The Sanibel Captiva Trust Co.
If you were here during Hurricane Charley, you know that Mother Nature can be unpredictable, and you also know firsthand the importance of planning. If you weren’t here, this information will be particularly important.
Hurricane season began on June 1 and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an above-average Atlantic hurricane season for 2022. While many focus on securing their homes and planning for evacuation, it is also important to prepare financially. Here are several tips that will help keep you and your finances safe:
1. Set up electronic payments for your utilities, credit cards and mortgage payments. In the event you are away from home, or the mail is delayed, you will have peace of mind knowing that your bills will be paid on time and services will not be shut off.
2. Be sure to have a credit card with a low outstanding balance or a credit card on hand designated for emergencies.
3. Have an emergency fund to cover food and lodging in the event you need to evacuate. This can be included in your annual budget. It is also important to have a sensible reserve of cash kept somewhere safely in your home – perhaps $1,000 – $2,000 in cash in the event banks are temporarily closed. During Hurricane Irma, most banking institutions in our area opened the following day.
4. Review your insurance coverage. Insurance can be complicated, so it is important to understand your policy – What is your deductible? What is covered with hurricane damage? Is flood insurance included? Who do you contact to initiate a claim? Some agents recommend that you take pictures of your home and furnishings today and have those on hand in the event there is damage.
5. If you need to evacuate, be sure to have a ‘Grab & Go’ folder with important documents you may need. This would include insurance cards, insurance policies, social security cards, drivers’ licenses, passports, birth certificates, mortgage paperwork, tax documents, and estate planning documents (Will, Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate, Living Will, and Trust documents). With technology today, you can scan these documents and save them to a flash drive or save to the Cloud.
6. Be sure to have contact information for family members, your advisors and your physicians.
On an extra note, the Sanibel Police Department provides Sanibel-Captiva residents official hurricane passes to gain access back onto the islands following a storm, as well as additional hurricane preparedness information. Just ask. Time is of the essence for hurricane preparations. At some point we will experience another storm and having these plans in place will make it that much less stressful. If you need advice on the financial checklist above or any of your wealth management needs, please contact us at The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company and we would be happy to help you. Be safe and enjoy the summer.