For nearly the past four decades, Colorado State University has been issuing forecasts of Atlantic basin hurricane activity. This spring, its scientists have predicted above-normal activity for the 2022 hurricane season, which spans June through November.
Specifically, their models are calling for 9 hurricanes (the average is 7.2) and four major ones (the average is 3.2). But here’s maybe the most valuable guidance in their April 7 Extended Range Forecast for the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season:
“Coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”
With that in mind, here are eight steps you can take to protect your family’s finances in the event we experience any storm landfalls and the possible need for evacuations:
- Digitize your financial documents: In the event of a disaster, you’ll need identification and important documents to begin the recovery process. Create digital copies of important documents (i.e. car titles, deeds, insurance declaration pages, etc.) on a laptop, mobile device, and/or password-protected flash drive. Even if you keep your documents in a safe deposit box, have digital backups. If your financial center sustains damage from a storm, you may be delayed in accessing your box.
- Review your insurance coverage: Review your insurance coverage for your home, vehicle and other personal property. Review your deductibles — some policies have a higher deductible for hurricane damage — and contact your agent if you have any questions. Also remember that standard homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flooding. Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, you’ll need to obtain a separate policy through your insurance company or the National Flood Insurance Program at floodsmart.gov. Act now, as flood insurance requires a 30-day waiting period before the policy goes into effect.
- Document your personal assets: Take updated interior and exterior photos of homes and several photos of automobiles to verify pre-storm condition. It’s also helpful to time-and-date stamp photos. This invaluable documentation will help jump-start the claims process following a storm.
- Enroll in online and mobile banking: To have access to your accounts anywhere, enroll in Mobile and Online Banking. Services like electronic bill pay, funds transfer, direct deposit and account alerts can help you stay on top of your finances and ahead of late fees.
- Have funds on hand: Withdraw cash, especially small bills, to have on hand for necessities. Also consider having a credit card specifically for emergencies. It may help you document disaster-related expenses for reporting and insurance purposes.
- Increase your emergency fund: If you’re able to pad your emergency savings now while skies are clear, your emergency fund can go a long way in helping you stay out of debt post-storm. Consider an automatic transfer from each paycheck to your savings account to help cover out-of-pocket expenses such as insurance deductibles, evacuation and hotel costs, and immediate recovery services.
- Create a communications directory: Make sure to have updated emails and cell numbers for emergency contacts and family members, insurance agents and help lines, emergency response centers or assistance organizations.
- Engage social media: If you use social media, follow @HancockWhitney for up-to-date information on financial center closings and re-openings, disaster assistance and resources. In the event of a storm, make sure your profiles are updated and use the emergency functions several sites engage during crises. However, avoid posting too much information and inadvertently letting would-be criminals know your whereabouts or that you’re not at home.
Need more guidance on getting your finances ready for the 2022 hurricane season? Contact a Hancock Whitney banker or speak with a Client Services Representative at 1-800-448-8812. You can also visit the federal government’s www.ready.gov/financial-preparedness web site for helpful advice.