Financial Fallout to Hit Hard for People in Storm-Ravaged Areas
MU financial expert says take care of self while tackling issues of property loss
May 12, 2008
Story Contact: Jennifer Faddis, (573) 882-6217, FaddisJ@missouri.edu
COLUMBIA, Mo. – As people from the Midwest to the East Coast survey the devastation left in the path of more than 60 recent tornadoes, a University of Missouri financial expert says individuals now face the overwhelming task of financial recovery.
“Hopefully, people have a list of what they owned, but, unfortunately, many won’t have that,” said Robert Weagley, chair of the Department of Personal Financial Planning in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences.
He suggests people sit down and think about their homes room by room starting with big ticket items. Once large items are listed, start trying to recall smaller items in each room.
“Even if inventory pictures of items were not taken, try to salvage family photos that might show items in the background to help verify what was owned and lost,” Weagley said. “Also, check with companies you may have filed warranties with in order to get proof of ownership of an item.”
Whether filing for insurance, seeking assistance or claiming a casualty tax deduction, proof of losses are needed. Before cleaning the damaged areas, take pictures. Also, keep damaged materials for proof of loss until the insurance adjuster authorizes their disposal, said Brenda Procter, MU Extension State Specialist.
“If people do not have homeowners or renters insurance, they are at the mercy of government programs or community help,” Weagley said. “It is so important to have insurance and, sadly, this is a terrible time to be taught that lesson.”
Procter also suggests saving all receipts for temporary lodging and food if the home is not livable. Also, save receipts for temporary repairs made to protect property from additional damage and contact insurance adjusters immediately. Workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the Red Cross can assist people with reaching their insurance adjusters. Be sure to file claims within the policy’s imposed time limits.
“Often, people are proud and think they can do everything on their own,” Weagley said. “It is important to accept help and counseling. Days will go by and the initial shock will wear off, but you will still have lost everything. It is important to take care of yourself and your neighbors.”