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3 tips to help your clients through hurricane season

Shutterstock_494660788With some areas still dealing with the impact of last year’s disastrous hurricane season, it’s hard to believe we’re yet again in the midst of another one. This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts there will be 10 to 16 named storms, including up to four Category 3 or higher hurricanes. This is slightly above the 30-year average of 12 named storms, including three major hurricanes.

The extent of devastation in 2017 may have your clients wondering how they can prepare financially for worst-case scenarios. As their trusted advisor, you can help. Share these helpful tips, all of which can be found in the Disasters and Financial Planning guide for preparedness and recovery:

Protect your property

The most effective way to protect a home and belongings during a hurricane is to safeguard them beforehand. By taking the appropriate measures – called mitigation – you could avoid damages altogether, or at least reduce financial loss.

Start by taking an accurate record of your assets and possessions. Furniture, electronics, appliances, tools and keepsakes are just as important to protect as a house or vehicle. Perform a household inventory, then create a photographic record and save receipts for any valuable items.

Then, make sure you have all the home safety basics in place. For example, install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, know where to shut off utilities and hire a professional to anchor your home or put up hurricane shutters.

Protect your records

Coping after a hurricane is difficult under any circumstance, but losing vital financial, property or medical records can add even more stress and anxiety. Take a few hours to organize your important documents and put them in safe place, such as a safe deposit box or home safe.

Make sure you separate records and receipts for business and personal assets, since business and personal gains and losses are treated differently tax wise.

Also, remember that power may be out after a hurricane – which means ATMs and credit card machines may not work, and banks might be closed. Keep a sufficient amount of cash and traveler’s checks in a disaster supplies kit that you can get to quickly. And add extra money into an emergency fund. 

Protect your health and life.

When a hurricane is about to make landfall, your first priority will be to protect yourself and your family. What steps can you take to plan financially for a possible health- or life-threatening emergency? Make sure you have:

  • Health insurance: If you or a family member are injured during the hurricane, coverage such as medical insurance, disability policies and long-term care can suddenly become important assets. Check coverage beforehand so you know what to expect.
  • Disability insurance: If you’re injured and can’t go back to work immediately, disability insurance could be a source of monthly income to help pay bills.
  • Life insurance: This is the absolute worst-case scenario. But if you lost your life during a disaster, life insurance could be the solution to keep your loved ones financially secure.

No one likes to think about worst-case scenarios, but it’s always best to be prepared just in case. That’s something your clients can appreciate. In the event of an emergency and to aid with recovery, tell them to contact their local American Red Cross chapter, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), local emergency management offices or fire and police departments. For additional checklists and information, check out the disaster preparedness guide here, and watch this Facebook Live with Michael Landsberg, CPA/PFS.

Samantha Delgado, Manager – Communications, PR & Corporate Responsibility, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

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