If I have been affected by a natural disaster, what should I do in the days immediately following it?
The checklist below will help guide you through some of the financial decisions you will need to make as soon as possible following a natural disaster:
- If your home, car or property was damaged by the storm, contact your insurance company to start the claims process.
- Ask for a copy of your insurance policy if you don’t have one available. It will help you verify your coverage.
- Damage to your home does not stop your responsibility to pay your mortgage. So you should contact your mortgage servicer and tell them about your situation.
- If you don’t have a monthly mortgage statement or coupon book with you, search the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) or call them toll-free at (888) 679-6377 to find the company that services your mortgage.
- Take a look at your income and savings and determine how much money you have available to pay bills and creditors.
- If your income is interrupted and you don’t think you will be able to pay your credit cards or other loans, be sure to contact your lenders as soon as possible. Explain your situation and when you think you will be able to resume normal payments. The important thing is to make the calls before your next payments are due.
- If you are in a presidentially declared disaster area, you may qualify for disaster assistance. Check with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for more information.
- If your home is damaged to the point that you can’t live in it, contact your utility companies and ask to suspend your service. This could help free up money in your budget for other expenses.
- Take a look at your bills and set priorities. Your mortgage, rent, and insurance payments should stay high on your list.