Recovering Financially

In addition to the physical and emotional impact of a disaster, you may also face financial challenges in the days, weeks and even months or years ahead. Of course, ensuring your family’s physical safety is your first priority. Afterward, you can begin to take these practical steps to recover your financial well-being.

Insurance Claims

  • Contact your insurance agent, broker or insurance company as soon as you can to report how, when and where the damage occurred. Provide a general description of the damage.
  • Prepare a list of damaged or lost items and provide receipts if possible. Consider photographing or videotaping the damage where it occurred for further documentation to support your claim.
  • If possible, keep damaged items or portions of those items until the claims adjuster has visited your home. Do not throw away anything you plan to claim without discussing it with your adjuster first.
  • Keep receipts for all additional expenses that you may incur such as lodging, repairs or other supplies.
  • Make copies of all documents and pictures given to your claims adjuster or insurance company. Besides insurance, there are many questions related to taxes, expenses and determining just how you will recover from a personal financial point of view. For helpful advice, please see Disaster Recovery: A Guide to Financial Issues (A5076).

Cash Flow, Bills and Debt

  • Stop unneccesary expenses. For example, if your home is temporarily uninhabitable or totally destroyed, notify the utility company and other service companies, such as the phone company, so they can stop billing immediately.
  • Estimate the amount of income and emergency savings you have to pay bills while you recover from the disaster, then prioritize your bills. Paying your insurance premiums and rent or mortgage should be your top priority.
  • Call any creditors and ask for more time to pay. Most creditors will be willing to work with you, especially if you notify them before a payment is due.

Replacing Vital Documents Lost in the Disaster

  • Driver's License
    Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Government Issued ID
    Contact the issuing authority
  • Insurance Policies
    Your insurance agent or company
  • Military Discharge

    Department of Veterans Affairs, Papers

    1-800-827-1000 or TDD/TTY 1-800-829-4833

  • Passports

    State Department—Passport Services

    202-955-0430 (24 hours)

  • Birth, Death, Marriage and Certificates

    Bureau of Records in the appropriate state

  • Social Security or Medicare Cards

    Local Social Security office

    1-800-772-1213 or TDD/TTY 1-800-325-0778

  • Credit Cards
    The issuing financial institution, as soon as possible
  • Titles to Deeds
    Records department of the area in which the property is located
  • Stocks and Bonds
    Issuing company or your broker
  • Wills
    Your attorney
  • Income Tax Record
    The IRS center where filed, your accountant or 1-800-829-1040
  • Citizenship Papers
    Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, 1-800-375-5283
  • Mortgage Papers
    Lending Institution