As hurricane season blows through Florida, it pauses the regularly scheduled programming and forcing residents to hunker down. While natural disaster kits might be common talk, what about when the storm is over and done? Then what? Natural disaster recovery is just as important as survival kits.
Depending on where your home is located, your home could have suffered a variety of different problems. While some lost power, others lost roofs or suffered flood damage. Whether dealing with flooding or downed trees, handling the damages to your home can be overwhelming and potentially a long process.
Here’s how to take stock and recover.
- Assess Your Home
How damaged is the house? Is it safe to enter? What should be listed as damaged? Do you have receipts for the damaged items?
- File Insurance Claims
If you haven’t done this already, do this as soon as possible after checking your insurance plan. Ask to find out if the insurance company will cover the cost of a hotel if you can’t stay in your home.
- Offer additional information when needed
- Take notes when speaking with claims adjuster
- Be polite when requesting reconsideration on your insurance company’s offered settlement
- Create A Financial Priority List
After your home is completely rearranged by a natural disaster, the cost of the repairs might deplete your income.
- What bills take priority?
- What can wait until a later time?
- What needs to be replaced immediately?
- Research Tax Breaks
The government does offer tax breaks for people who have dealt with an onslaught of repairs due to natural disaster. Your situation might qualify for special tax benefits or you may be able to deduct causality-related losses on the income tax return.
- Beware of Contractors
Con artists are known to try to prey on victims of disasters. Some might claim to be contractors but will only take advantage of your situation and not provide the work you seek. Hire contractors who are highly recommended by trustworthy friends or coworkers.
- Ask for estimates from a couple contractors.
- Check their complaint history with the Better Business Bureau.
- Require a written contract.
- Final payment shouldn’t be given until the job is completed.
- Contact a lawyer if you experience contractor fraud.
- Be Proactive When You Can’t Pay Creditors Immediately
A natural disaster can quickly become a financial disaster for homeowners as well. When bills get out of hand and creditors are demanding payment, it’s time to be honest about the situation. Your goal should be to save your credit history.
- Explain the situation in detail.
- Be realistic in seeking a payment plan solution, whether requesting suspended or reduced payments.
- Keep copies of the correspondence and conversation.
- Update creditors and plan to return to normal payments at a specific date.
- Plan For The Future
Florida is known for often being in the path of hurricanes. This knowledge means that homeowners should have a before, during, and after plan for dealing with natural disaster emergencies. When considering this past experience, ask yourself the following the questions to prepare for future natural disasters.
- What do I wish I had done this time?
- How can I be better organized for the future?
- What can I do now to prepare for the future?
Dealing with natural disasters can be difficult, frustrating, and just plain hard. Hurricanes may come again but with a post-natural disaster financial plan in place, you’ll be ready to handle whatever comes your way.