The heartbreaking and frightening images from Hurricane Harvey ought to be a wake-up call, because this is not a once-in-a-lifetime event.
South Carolina is all too familiar with catastrophic natural disasters.
The historic flooding of 2015 was called a thousand-year flood. It was the sixth such event in the United States since 2010.
One year later, Hurricane Matthew hammered South Carolina.
That was before Harvey … and Irma.
These disasters are happening more and more often. And the sudden shock to your financial system can be severe.
So prepare. Starting with insurance.
Only 17 percent of homeowners in the counties hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey had flood insurance.
Talk to your insurance agent to find out what your home policy covers. Standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. Only a flood insurance policy will cover those losses.
Flood insurance is generally affordable. The annual residential premium starts at $112 per year.
Loretta Worters of the Insurance Information Institute has noted that one of the biggest reasons people don’t carry flood insurance is apathy. Don’t be lazy. You’ll regret it.
Think about establishing a catastrophe savings account, which can help you pay for your deductible and other out-of-pocket costs. As with health savings accounts, the money can be set aside tax-free and used in the future to pay for catastrophe expenses.
Take an inventory of your property. The more proof of ownership you have, the better. Take photos and record details of the things you own. Keep receipts for high-ticket items.
Keep a disaster-proof box with crucial documents. Scan the documents, and keep them on a flash drive that you keep somewhere outside of your home — in your office, with a relative or your lawyer, for instance.
Since Hugo almost 30 years ago, South Carolina has gotten much more disaster-prepared. Our emergency management policies are among the best in the country.