Washington, D.C. (Set. 3, 2015)—September is National Preparedness Month, and the Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) and the nation’s more than 6,000 community banks are offering tips to help consumers get their financial documents in order before a natural disaster strikes.
“While the first priority is the safety of you and your family, knowing that your banking documents and private financial information are safe gives you one less thing to worry about during stressful times,” said ICBA Chairman Jack Hartings, president and CEO of The Peoples Bank Co. in Coldwater, Ohio. “Natural disasters of any kind quickly remind us how important it is to be organized and have a plan ahead of time. Having a financial preparedness plan will protect you and your family from the long-term effects of damaged, destroyed or lost financial documents.”
ICBA offers the following tips to help consumers prepare their financial information before a natural disaster occurs.
- Keep marriage licenses, birth certificates, adoption papers, property deeds, wills, insurance policies, passports, Social Security cards, car titles or lease contracts, bank and investment account numbers and three years of tax returns in a bank safe-deposit box. Put each of these documents in a sealed plastic bag to keep out moisture.
- Make and safeguard additional official copies of critical documents such as birth certificates, adoption papers, marriage licenses and the deed to your home for safekeeping and notify a trustee, close relative or attorney where your important financial information is located.
- Keep names and contact numbers for executors, trustees and guardians in a safe place, either in your safe deposit box or with a close relative.
- Take an inventory and keep a list of household valuables. Taking photographs of these items can help as well.
- Include extra cash, preferably small bills, in your home emergency kit, which should include a three-day supply of water and food, a first aid kit, a manual can opener, flashlights, a radio and extra batteries.
- Secure online data storage, which can serve as a supplement or backup to paper copies. Scanned or other electronic documents can be uploaded with secure online backup services.
- If you feel flood insurance may be necessary to protect your home, start shopping around. Contact your insurance agent or visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website at www.fema.gov for more information.
“If you and your family have concerns about financial preparedness, please don’t hesitate to stop by or call your community bank. Community bankers can help you and your family get your financial documents in order and discuss any questions you might have,” Hartings said.
For more information and resources, including a copy of an Emergency Financial Preparedness Guide, visit ICBA’s Consumer Education and Resources webpage.
The Independent Community Bankers of America®, the nation’s voice for more than 6,000 community banks of all sizes and charter types, is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education and high-quality products and services.