Disaster Preparation: Don’t Forget Your Financial Information

Is your family financially prepared for an emergency?

Just as you stockpile water, food, flashlights, and other necessities in case of a disaster, you should also gather all the financial information you would need in an emergency. Unfortunately, too many families lack an “emergency financial first-aid kit”—an omission that can make an already stressful situation overwhelming.

Fortunately, putting together your emergency documentation is straightforward. According to the Federal Emergency Management Company, your first-aid kit should have four parts:

  • Household identification
  • Financial and legal documentation
  • Medical information
  • Household contacts

Here’s a breakdown of the information that FEMA reports you should have for each part:

Household Identification

Gather the documentation that proves the identities of each of your family members, including:

  • Driver’s licenses and other photo IDs
  • Birth certificates, adoption papers, and child custody documents
  • Marriage licenses
  • Divorce records
  • Social Security cards
  • Child identity cards, dental records, and DNA swabs
  • Passports, green cards, and naturalization records
  • Current military IDs and military discharge records

Also, create a document listing your and your spouse’s names plus:

  • Date of birth
  • Residence
  • Contact information
  • Employment information
  • Supervisor contact information
  • Emergency notification

Also, include the names and contact information for each child or other individual in the residence.

Financial and Legal Documentation

In this section, include information such as:

  • Mortgages or lease agreements
  • Financial obligations, including credit cards and child support payments
  • Financial accounts, such as checking and retirement accounts
  • Insurance policies
  • Sources of income
  • Tax statements
  • Estate planning documents

Create a document that includes the name of the institution for each of your accounts, including:

  • Company’s phone number and website
  • Name on the card or policy
  • Policy number or last four digits of account number
  • Payment amounts
  • Due dates
  • Any other pertinent information

Medical Information

Use this section to record your family’s health and medical information, such as:

  • Physician, pediatrician, and other medical specialists
  • Copies of health insurance ID cards
  • Copies of pharmacy ID cards
  • Medicare and Medicaid cards
  • Records of immunizations and allergies
  • Caregiver agency contracts or service agreements
  • Medications and copies of current prescriptions
  • List models, serial numbers, and suppliers for medical equipment
  • Disabilities documentation
  • Living wills and medical powers of attorney

Household Contacts

This section should include contact information for all your service providers, including:

  • Mortgage representative or landlord
  • Doctor, dentist, and other health care providers
  • Insurance agent
  • Military benefits contact person
  • Social services representative
  • Local disability service provider or case manager
  • Provider of assistive technology or durable medical equipment
  • Lawyer
  • Financial advisor
  • Banking institution
  • Neighborhood, civic, and house of worship contacts
  • Household service providers, such as plumber or electrician

No doubt, this financial first-aid kit will take some time and diligence to put together and maintain. However, it can help you recover from a disaster much more efficiently and with less heartache.

FEMA has a guide that includes checklists and other resources to help you compile your financial information. You can download a guide by clicking here.

 I hope you never need to use your first-aid kit, but I believe the peace of mind that you can gain from knowing you have one in place is invaluable.