Monday, June 13, 2011

Saving Family Documents

Much of the southern United States is experiencing a really bad wildfire season. Communities near the Mississippi experienced devastating floods this year. Tornado season has been much worse than usual, and hurricane season is just beginning.

If you had to grab your belongings and leave in a matter of minutes - or even with two or three days notice - would you be able to quickly take with you the documents you'd need to prove your identity, file an insurance claim, or have utilities cut off?

It's a good idea to keep copies of those important documents in your disaster kit, so they go with you in an emergency. You can scan them and keep a password protected CD or flash drive with all the files, or just make hard copies (in case you can't get to a computer).

Here's what you need:
  • Property Insurance Policy
  • Auto Insurance Policy
  • Health Insurance Cards
  • Driver's License or ID card for each family member
  • Utility bills - recent statements or a list that includes account numbers and customer service phone numbers
  • Credit card bills - recent statements or a list of account numbers and customer service phone numbers
  • Loan details - including mortgages, personal loans, auto loans, store credit - with account and phone numbers
  • Subscriptions and memberships - for any regular mailings, be sure you know how to change your address

This is just for starters. These are the major things you'll need to file a claim, change your mailing address, cancel or shut off utilities, and make payment arrangements. Consider each individual in your home and determine if you have other documents that may be important. Marriage licenses, legal contracts, medical records - think carefully about what you might need if you were forced to leave your house for weeks or perhaps forever.

Don't wait until you need to leave to assemble these documents. You'll make your life a lot easier if you can grab your emergency kit and know that everything you need is inside.

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