Here in California, Mother Nature doesn’t give us too much to worry about – except for a little tremor now and then. But being smack dab in the middle of hurricane season, now is a good time to ask yourself, “Am I prepared?”. Hopefully, everyone has a family and/or corporate disaster plan in place – to protect what is most precious. These should be reviewed on a yearly basis as both family and business situations can change from year to year. Additionally, never assume that you will be at home when disaster strikes. Your family plan should include provisions for each person’s varying schedules – for instance, what is the plan if you are at work or your children are at the mall? With that settled, be sure that you have also taken steps to safeguard your important records. With the advent of the digital age, it’s both easier and more efficient to do so. We recommend the following:
- Document your belongings. Take photographs or video of the contents of your home – both as close-ups (particularly items of a higher value), and showing your possessions in their broader settings. These should then be stored off-site, if at all possible with a friend or family member who lives out of the area, or in the cloud. A photographic record can be very valuable in proving ownership and market value to your insurance carrier in the event of a casualty loss.
- Create an electronic backup copy of your records. This should include birth certificates, passports, insurance policies, wills, etc. as well as tax returns, bank statements and copies of stock transactions. Most financial institutions these days provide you with digital copies of your statements, which makes this a lot easier. There are also scanning services that can help you digitize your older records if you don’t have a scanner available to you. You can then save them to the cloud, download them to a backup storage device, or burn them to a CD, which should then be safely stored off-site.
Also, be on the safe side and share the location of your records and backup documents with several trusted parties. There’s nothing like an ounce of preparation to lend a ton of peace of mind – and may Mother Nature always treat you gently!