If you’ve experienced a natural disaster, you may have been forced to evacuate your home without your identification, credit cards, checks and debit cards. Without access to your money, and the possible hardship of dealing with whatever financial damages came with the destruction, it can be difficult to regain your financial footing.
Learn what you can do financially to recover from a natural disaster and ensure that you’re back on your feet when the dust settles.
Fortunately, family and friends can be a lifeline following a natural disaster, even if they live in a different area. Wire transfers, checks and credit or debit cards can be used in other locations, so you may be able to get the short-term funds you need.
If your checks, credit cards or debit cards have been lost or stolen during the disaster, you want to report the loss to the card issuer or bank as soon as possible and get new cards and accounts. The last thing you need is fraudulent charges to add to the chaos, and having new cards may be enough to get you through this time.
It’s also important to keep in contact with your employer and let them know the situation. You can ask if you can continue to get your paycheck and health insurance, and for how long. If the disaster has moved you a different location temporarily, you may be able to switch your direct deposit to a local bank that gives you access to your bank account.
You should also contact your retirement company and social services office, as well as any other benefits offices. Make them aware of your new location and find out if your benefit payments are made by direct deposit, check or card, so you can give them any new information and be sure to have access to your money.
Your health, home or other insurance company may be able to offer assistance as well, such as clothing, furniture, necessities and temporary shelter.
If you lose your financial records and need to check on your accounts, you can get your credit report for free from a number of different companies. This is important to check for any tampering or fraudulent purchases that may have occurred.
Lenders, creditors, landlords and utilities companies may be able to provide assistance for those in natural disasters as well. Contact as many as possible to discuss deferred payments, extended payment plans, extended grace periods, waived late fees or raised credit limits, as well as flagging your accounts for fraudulent purchases. They may also postpone any repossession, collections or foreclosures.
Here are some other things you can check on with your creditors:
- Ask for short-term loans for living expenses or increases in your credit limits or cash advance limits in anticipation of disaster relief funding.
- If you applied for funds for repairs, ask your mortgage or insurance company about the status of your funding and see if they need any additional information to complete the process. If your funds have been approved, find out when they’ll be released so you can start on repairs. You should also speak to your contractor to find out what needs to be done to ensure the funds will continue to be paid.
- If your property is damaged too severely for repairs, speak to your mortgage company and insurance company to see if the mortgage can be paid off. You’ll still receive any remaining funds from the insurance company after the mortgage is paid off, as well as any funds that cover your personal losses.
- Contact your utilities companies to be sure they know your property was lost in a disaster and to see if they’ll be willing to waive their fees and defer your payments in the meantime.
- Contact your bank and creditors to see if they’ll waive overdraft fees, ATM fees and reporting to credit reporters. You can also see if they’ll waive any penalties on early withdrawal of retirement accounts or certificates of deposit.
- Contact your credit card companies and change your billing address to your new location. Check if they’ll defer your payments for a little while or ask for a different payment schedule, as well as waiving late fees or over-the-limit fees. You can also ask for a cash advance or increased credit limit to cover your necessary expenses.
- If you have a mortgage or auto loan, contact the creditor and see if you can defer your payments for several months. They may even offer extended deferred payments or payment reductions. You can check if they’ll waive late penalties and hold off on reporting delinquencies as well, and waive prepayment penalties if your insurance allows you to pay off loans early due to the emergency.
While there’s no guarantee that all or any of these companies will be willing to meet these requests, it is still worth it to try and relieve some of your financial burden.
Replace Lost Documents
It’s common for legal documents to become lost or damaged in a natural disaster. These may include:
- Deeds, which can be replaced through the county’s Recorder of Deeds.
- Mortgages and other loan documents, which can be replaced through the original lenders.
- Leases, which can be replaced through the landlord or financial company.
- Insurance policies, which can be replaced through your insurance agent.
- Wills or other estate planning documents, which can be replaced through the original attorney.
- Checking and savings account documents, which can be replaced through the bank and investment company.
- Automotive title and driver’s license, which can be replaced through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Birth Certificate, which can be replaced through the Vital Statistics Office in your county of birth.
- Social Security card, which can be replaced through the local Social Security Administration Office.
- Tax returns, which can be replaced through the Internal Revenue Service.
- Any other documents, such as contracts or judgments, can be replaced through the local court.
Get Financial Help From Koster Cash Loans
If you need cash to help you recover from a natural disaster, Koster Cash Loans can help. We offer installment loans which can help you regain your financial footing after a disaster. Just fill out our quick, secure application to get the process started!