01 Aug Financial Preparedness for the Lowcountry Storm Season
We in the Lowcountry have been fortunate enough to not be victims of any major tropical storms since the devastating effects of Hurricane Hugo in the fall of 1989. The effects of Hurrican Matthew in 2016 left parts of our state shattered, but once again South Carolina as a whole was spared. With this being prime hurricane season, which runs from June to November, South Carolina residents need to improve their emergency preparedness procedures. More specifically, financial preparedness is a huge determinant in how well a family will be able to rebuild their homes and lives after a disastrous storm. Use these tips below to assess your current preparedness plan and see what it means to be financially prepared.
Contact Your Insurance Provider
It cannot be stressed enough that during this season it is pertinent to contact your home insurance provider to learn more about your coverage and how extensive it is. You want to make sure that not only is your home insured, but also your car in the chance you have to get a rental, and other valued assets.
It is also important to note that standard homeowners insurance does not include flood insurance. If you live in the Lowcountry or areas prone to flooding, it is essential to add flood insurance to your policy. The majority of the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew was due to flooding, and insurance claims reached up to $500 million. Imagine how many more claims there could’ve been had people checked their policy and added flood insurance.
Hold on To Your Dollar Bills
The next best things that you can do to be prepared is have a decent amount of cash on hand. Depending on the amount of damage, banks and ATMs may become unattainable. To be able to pay for necessities such as water, toiletries, and groceries, it is best to have cash handy due to the loss of power and store closures. You can start small, but stashing some leftover cash in an envelope labeled “hurricane fund” and adding it to it every time you get loose change or dedicating a small portion of your paycheck to it. That way if the time ever comes, you are ready and can provide for yourself and your family.
Set Up An Emergency Fund
You may be asking if setting up an emergency fund is necessary. The answer is an absolute yes. The untimely arrival of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 left thousands of people in a financial trough because they did not have any emergency funds available. This left many homeless, stranded, and destitute. You can set up an emergency fund a couple of different ways:
- Start a new emergency savings account: It is advised that you already have an emergency fund set up for those rainy days. But for those on a tight budget already it can be difficult. However, even if it just $5 every 2 weeks, it is worth it. Check out FEMA’s emergency first aid kit to see what all is advised to have, and save enough money for at least one item each week. This will make all the difference if we are ever affected by a tropical storm.
- Have an emergency credit card: If possible, designate one of your credit cards for emergency use only. This is will be convenient to use if you have to pay for large expenses upfront while waiting for your insurance provider. As stated before, remember that many places may not be able to take card payments in the event of a serious hurricane so keep some cash with you as well.
Being an integral member of this Lowcountry community, we will not be taking this hurricane season lightly. Stop by a local branch to have one of our financial specialists assist you in setting up an emergency savings account, or provide financial tips on how to best protect you and your family during this hurricane season.