Documents You Need To Keep Safe During Hurricane Season
When disaster strikes, your first and only concern should be the safety of you and your loved ones. That’s why hurricane preparation is so critically important: you want to ensure you’ve taken every step you need to minimize damage and make your life easier well in advance of a natural disaster such as a hurricane.
The most important thing you’ll need after a hurricane is your insurance information and your identifying documents; this can speed up the insurance claims process and make your life much less stressful.
With that in mind, here are our top recommendations for documents you need to have prepared and protected this hurricane season- and how to protect them!
DOCUMENTS TO STORE
Personal information to prove and verify the identities of you and your family members:
- Birth and marriage certificates
- Divorce decrees
- Adoption papers
- Citizenship papers
- Child custody papers
- Diplomas and military certificates
- Social security cards
- Pet records and chip ID numbers
- Homeowners/renters insurance
- Flood insurance
- Earthquake insurance
- Auto insurance
- Any other policies
Home and estate documents to prove your ownership of important assets:
- Home deeds and mortgage statements
- Car titles
- Appraisal documents for jewelry and valuables
- Your will and estate planning documents, including contact information for trustees and executors
- Stock and bond certificates
- Bank statements
- Tax documents
- Inventory of valuable household goods and estimated values
Medical information in case of emergencies:
- Insurance information and policy numbers
- Prescription records
- Medical history documents
HOW TO STORE THEM
Once you have all these items assembled, put your records in a file system or lock box. Pick something portable so that you can take it with you when you leave; think plastic accordion folders, not file cabinets.
Make backup electronic copies and save them on external drives. Or, better yet, keep a copy in a digital service like Dropbox or Google Drive. Ensure there’s an electronic copy of your important documents saved someplace secure.
You can also store documents in an offsite location, such as a bank lock box. If you choose this route, be sure you have copies of your important documents prepared in a go-bag to bring with you.
Another option that’s worth investing in is waterproof document protection. Watertight clear plastic folders can put a barrier between moisture and your important documents, and the extra protection is worth the money if your home ever floods.
If weather threatens your home, taking photographs of rooms and important assets in your home can help you prove to your insurance company that you really own the item you’re submitting a claim on. As with your important papers and documents, save online copies of these photos so you can access them later. A video walkthrough of your home might be a good idea to be extra safe.
Finally, if any of your documents are damaged or missing, consult this government website for up to date information on getting them replaced or updated. It’s better to do this well in advance of hurricane season, but this can also be a resource if any vital document is damaged in a flood.