Are You Financially Prepared For An Emergency?

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A little planning now can help you handle a natural disaster or other emergency.

Many Americans have focused on their need to be prepared in case of an emergency. Very few, however, consider financial preparedness in their plans. From keeping an evacuation box with important documents to setting up an account with emergency funds, preparing now can be the difference between financial security and financial crisis.

These simple tips from financial experts at Union Bank of California can help anyone prepare financially for a natural disaster:

• Conduct a Household Inventory

Create a household inventory for items of significant value and locate originals of important financial and family documents. Store original documents in waterproof bags in a safe deposit box or durable “evacuation box” and photocopies in a safe place. Use a CD to back up key documents on your computer. If practical, store copies with friends or relatives who live outside the area.

• Know Your Insurance Policies

Understand what types of losses your renters or homeowners insurance covers. Ask your insurance agent or financial planner about additional coverage for floods, earthquakes, home offices and big-ticket items. Keep copies of your policies in a safe place along with your other important papers.

• Keep Cash Accessible

Keep at least $300 in cash at home in a place where you can get to it quickly in case of a sudden evacuation. The money should be in small denominations for easier use.

• Create and Maintain a List of Emergency Contacts

Keep a list of important emergency contacts, including direct family members, doctors, medical facilities, numbers for your bank, insurance agent and company, lawyer and financial planner/advisor. Credit card 1-800 numbers can help you quickly retrieve account information.

• Keep an Emergency Savings Account

This account should be separate from any other account and contain enough money to cover at least three to six months of living expenses.

“We’ve learned from the aftermath of recent natural disasters that financial preparedness is not always top of mind,” said Union Bank’s Executive Vice President Ronald Kendrick. “Follow these guidelines to ensure you and your family are protected financially.”