Advice From the Heroes

Recovering From Disasters, Financial and Otherwise

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Our heroes have helped people recover from natural disasters and other major setbacks. In the event that trouble strikes you, these suggestions can minimize the financial damage.

Know what you have. Well before any danger looms, take inventory of your house’s possessions, says real estate broker Karen King of Massachusetts, who assisted other families after a 2011 tornado. Take photos and save receipts, so you know how much you’ve paid for major items.

Protect possessions. Make sure your homeowner’s insurance covers the replacement value of any losses, not the actual cost value, says Alabama insurance advocate Michelle Kurtz. While replacement value will cost you more, the payoff is significantly higher, especially on older homes and contents.

Watch out for scammers. When making repairs on your home following a disaster, be wary of door-to-door solicitors, says King; many unreliable third-party or scam contractors show up in these situations. Hire reputable, local contractors and compare quotes from three contractors to determine whom to hire. Ask to see a contractor’s license. If you can’t find someone through word-of-mouth, get recommendations from your town’s building inspector.

Acknowledge your pain. “If you are trying to recover from an economic disaster, be open and honest about your situation, as challenging as that may be,” says South Carolina’s Katie Stagliano. “There are so many wonderful organizations and individuals that are willing to offer support, but they can’t help you unless they know there is a need.”

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