As a follow-up to my previous article on Personalized Disaster Planning, in this article, the second of three on the topic, I will address four main issues of concern in building such a plan and the possible effects of not having a disaster plan in place.
Danger No. 1: Getting Down to Basics
Even before you help your clients financially, the most important concern in a disaster plan has to be as simple as the basic necessities of life: food and water. Like so many natural disasters we’ve seen in the last few years, it’s very possible that following a disaster, many people will be stranded for days in need of food and water. So the obvious possible effects could be starvation, dehydration, extensive medical issues or even death. Therefore, the highest priority for your clients to understand is the need to create a disaster supply kit within their personalized disaster plan. The Federal Emergency Management Agency website is a great resource for disaster planning and has a great summary and detailed education for creating and maintaining a disaster supply kit.
Danger No. 2: Addressing Identity Theft
One of next issues of concern is identity theft. While most would agree that a natural disaster doesn’t have to occur for identity theft to be an issue, no one can deny the increased exposure such an event creates. What if your client’s driver’s license, tax return, Social Security number, date of birth, credit card statement or even checkbook is blown across town by a tornado? What stops someone from picking up a Social Security number and stealing the identity of your client? While the client is trying to clean up the devastation and rebuild, a $2,000, $5,000 or larger bill is adding up on their credit card by someone pretending to be them.
What about the possibility of someone breaking into your client’s online investment account if they have the account number or most recent statement? Or someone calling a major brokerage house and pretending to be your client? Who is going to keep the protection of your clients’ investments from an identity theft hacker? How do we recommend our clients fix this issue, especially if they can’t even prove their own identity?
Whether any of these situations happens or not, your clients surely needs to be aware of the risks that identity theft can have on their financial situation. A very informative website I highly recommend for your clients is www.identitytheft.info. As they will see, over 15 million Americans have their identity stolen each year, resulting in financial losses of some $50 billion. This website discusses varying types, prevention, protection and recovery from most all identity thefts issues.
Danger No. 3: Dealing With Insurance Claims