Be prepared when disaster strikes: Five reminders from the Illinois CPA Society

As many Illinois communities struggle with flood waters and storm damage, the Illinois CPA Society offers these five reminders to help you be as financially prepared as possible when disaster strikes:

1. Inventory your personal possessions. Take pictures or a video, or just make a list of your household possessions to be able to document what you own for insurance and tax purposes.

2. Keep essentials handy in one place. Designate one spot in your home where you can quickly find your driver's license, automated teller machine cards, a credit card, and a debit card.

3. Put together an evacuation box. In a lockable, durable box place the following:
* A small amount of traveler's checks or cash
* Copies of your auto, flood, renter's or homeowner's insurance policies (or at least policy numbers)
* Health, dental or prescription insurance cards or written information about insurance for your entire family and pets
* Copies of important prescriptions for your entire family, including pets
* A list of the numbers and contact information for bank accounts, loans, credit cards, driver's licenses, investment accounts, and Social Security cards.

Also have copies of, or a flash drive back-up for, irreplaceable personal photographs, important documents (items like birth certificates or deeds), financial software files, and prior year tax returns.

4. Establish an emergency fund. Put aside a little money for emergencies so you have enough on hand for about six months of basic expenses.

5. Check your insurance coverage. Review your home insurance coverage and address any shortfalls. Be sure you understand the exact coverage for flooding; you may need additional coverage for the basement sewer back-up or surface-water flooding.

Before or after a disaster, a CPA can help put your financial life in order. A CPA can work with you to prepare a comprehensive plan to be better prepared for emergencies or a recovery plan for the unexpected financial impacts of a crisis like the current floods.

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