June 7, 2013 7:00 pm
With a national forecast for an "active" hurricane season this year, it's important for you to have a disaster recovery plan in place.
"With the devastation of Superstorm Sandy still fresh in our memory and another active season predicted, now is the time to set a plan to protect not only your family and personal property, but also your personal finances and business assets," says Louis R. Cestello, executive vice president, Southeast regional executive, PNC Bank. "Taking time in advance of a hurricane can make the potential process of recovery easier for individuals and businesses."
So what can you do to prepare and protect your assets in the event of an emergency? PNC Bank's personal finance experts suggest following these tips, including lessons learned from last hurricane season:
Personal Safety is Paramount: Create a thorough emergency plan including emergency supplies, evacuation routes, communications plans, personal property preparations and more. Municipal agencies can provide guidance to create and follow a comprehensive personal disaster preparedness plan.
Cash on Hand: In case power goes out and ATMs are not working, be sure to have some cash available in addition to debit and credit cards as well as personal checks.
Consider a Reloadable Debit Card: Worried about the risk of keeping too much cash on hand? Augment your cash with a prepaid reloadable debit card for safe, convenient access to your money. You can use the card to make purchases, pay bills and even get additional cash at the ATM.
Register for Mobile Banking: When the power goes out, your smartphone can be used for banking as well as communicating. With a smartphone, you can access your account, monitor transactions, pay bills and use a bank ATM locator app to find an ATM nearby that may have power.
Follow Your Bank on Social Media: Status updates are available via Facebook and Twitter, which serve as real-time communication tools in the event of a natural disaster.
Fill up Your Gas Tank: Given long lines at the pump after a disaster, filling your tank in advance is always a good idea. That full tank can also come in handy in case of a power outage where your car may be the only way to charge a smartphone or laptop, making mobile banking and other online transactions or communications possible.
Scan and Store Important Documents in a Safe Place: Make duplicates of all your important documents so you have copies if the originals are destroyed. Back up your electronic files and keep important documents, i.e., identification and insurance policies, in a safe place separate from home. Consider containers that are water-proof and portable.
Listen to Authorities: Adhere to guidance associated with weather watches, warnings and the advice of authorities. Take all necessary steps to help ensure the safety of you and your family. Follow evacuation plans if issued for your area.
Assessing the Aftermath: Lastly, once personal safety is assured and you are cleared to return, contact your financial institution or business banker. In disaster areas, customer assistance may be extended in the form of fee forgiveness for overdraft, returned item, late charges and ATM surcharges. Additional products, such as Home Equity Installment Loans, Personal Installment Loans and other municipal loans may be offered to customers for disaster-related relief purposes with accelerated review.