Natural disasters wreak havoc in communities along every coastline and can even affect people living far from the shore. That’s why it’s so important to have a disaster recovery plan, regardless of where you live. When a hurricane, tornado, or other natural disaster does strike, following a few suggestions and keeping a level head can help you recover that much more efficiently.

Gather Evidence
The first thing you should do, upon returning to your home, is to document the damage caused by the event. The best way to do this is to take photographs. While some people take videos, they can actually be more problematic if you need to locate evidence of specific damage. Instead of reviewing a continuous loop of video footage, it’s much easier to pull up a specific photograph.

Pictures can be extremely helpful in filing your claim, especially if your insurance company seems reluctant to settle.

Prevent Further Damage

Some people try to handle everything themselves, but this makes recovering that much more difficult. There are resources available to help you, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of them. For instance, FEMA will usually provide large tarps to help you cover damage to your roof and walls. This can help protect against additional wind and rain damage, until you can get repairs underway.

File Your Claim
It’s important that you don’t delay in filing your claim for a couple of reasons. First, delaying your claim can cause the insurance company to question your motives. They may think you delayed filing to claim damages not caused by the disaster. Secondly, there will likely be many other claims your insurer will have to process. The sooner you submit your claim, the quicker the insurance company will get to it.

Obtain Early Estimates
While you’re waiting to hear back from your insurance company, you can begin shopping around for contractors to make the repairs you need. A company that specializes in quality replacement windows and doors, such as East Coast Windows, is often the best place to go for replacement pieces. You can talk to their service specialists about obtaining the best windows and doors to protect against future disasters. By selecting contractors early, you’ll be ready to move once your insurance claim has been settled.

Contact Creditors
You should also contact your credit card issuers, mortgage lenders, and other creditors to discuss your situation. You may be able to negotiate a temporary payment relief, which can help you through the immediate future. Even with your insurance settlement, if you have significant damage, money can be tight and a brief reprieve from paying on your debts can be a big help.

There’s much to be done immediately following a natural disaster. However, your primary responsibility is to protect yourself and your family from additional financial fallout. This means getting your home situation taken care of and communicating with financial institutions to gain as much protection as possible. Taking these steps will help you recover that much faster and enable you to get back to a more normal way of life.

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