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What if a natural disaster hit your home? Knowing how to cope with a natural disaster and taking the right steps after one can help you protect your surviving assets and rebuild successfully.

There are three vital tips to remember when assessing the damage to your home:

  1. If there is a question about whether the home is inhabitable, contact local building authorities for a decision.
  2. Contact your insurance company to establish a claim, but do not settle immediately.
  3. If you are able, make temporary repairs to prevent further damage. This could include placing tarps over broken windows or having a professional put a tarp over a hole in your roof to keep rain from coming in.

If you are not a construction professional, it is not always wise to handle an insurance claim on your own. It will be difficult for you to estimate the cost of repairs if you do not have a qualified person to come up with the figures. But, be sure to get the insurance claim figures before hiring a contractor, because you do want to be sure that you will have enough to pay for the repairs.

Consider consulting your relatives, friends and neighbors for recommendations on a contractor. Initiate the conversation with contractors by asking for estimates, not by responding to sales pitches. It has been seen that in times of disasters, contractors may come into the area looking for work and may not have the appropriate licenses and insurance. It’s recommended to get around three bids for your job, you will have three contractors come into your home and evaluate the damage. You will then hear from three different people the problems in your home and their ideas as to the best way to fix it. This process should help give you a good understanding of what needs to be done and who will do the best job.

Not sure how to plan ahead? Start by taking these few precautionary steps that will ensure that if a natural disaster occurs, you are a step ahead:

  • Make a photographic or a video inventory of your valuables for insurance purposes. Jewelry, antiques, valuable collections, and electronics are among the items that should be included.
  • Protect important documents such as marriage and birth certificates, car titles, and insurance policies in a locked, fireproof, and water-resistant location. Backup copies of documents also can be scanned and placed on a flash drive to be stored in a bank safety deposit box. Contact information for important people such as your lawyer, accountant, and insurance agent also can be placed on the flash drive.
  • Carefully assess whether your insurance is appropriate for the risks faced in a specific area. Insurance for floods and earthquakes is not included on many homeowner policies and may need to be purchased separately.

It is important to do all precautionary tips in advance of a disaster striking your home. This will allow you to have the time to deal with more important things in the wake of a crisis. For more information on how to be prepared for a natural disaster, contact your accountant today.