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They can take many forms, from extreme weather such as storms, flooding or drought, to fires, earthquakes, and pandemics. A natural disaster can be one of the hardest things to recover from financially, simply because they are so hard to predict.
They can come upon you completely unawares, and cause massive losses to property, plans and other areas of your life. Alongside the immediate damages, there can often be further consequences down the road that it might be impossible to plan for, including issues you would never be able to see coming. So, how can you do your best to keep your finances safe in the face of natural disasters?
Much of this is down to generally good planning; keeping savings, having good, comprehensive insurance deals, and avoiding the temptation to sink a high percentage of your money into a single venture. However, there are other steps you can take in the face of natural disasters which will help you to cope both personally and financially, and lower the risk of any long term consequences.
As when facing any crisis, the most important thing you can do is to remain calm. Panicked reactions to a situation run the risk of making it worse by forgetting important considerations, and now is not the time to make rash decisions. Remember that the lives of you and your family are more important than your finances, and as long as you have the financial security to house, feed, and provide yourselves with other essentials, the rest can come later.
Our financial concerns can often overwhelm us in times of crisis, as they form such a large part of your daily concerns. It can be incredibly stressful to feel like your assets are threatened, but it will only benefit you to stop, take a breath, and consider your options.
If you have followed financial advice and planned smartly, you should have a number of safety nets in place. Now is the time to use them. This can be easier said than done. Even if you have emergency savings set aside, you will probably have a psychological block against actually dipping into them; you might say to yourself ‘but what if something worse comes along’, or ‘this is my safety net, I don’t want to waste it’. Don’t listen to this voice - this is exactly the situation your contingency savings are there for, and there is no point in having them if you don’t use them in times of need.
It’s also important to ensure you’re using your insurance plans to their fullest. If you have experienced damage to property as a result of extreme weather, or a severe loss of income due to a natural disaster which has affected your industry, insurance can often be a lifesaver.
Unfortunately, insurance companies can often try to limit their own outgoings by providing people with underpaid claims; keep an eye out for this, and always be ready to fight back if you think your claim has not been dealt with sufficiently.
Once you have reacted and contained the effects of the initial disaster, you may be left wondering what you can do next. Often, the process of recovery from big natural disasters can take years rather than weeks or months, and it’s important that you are mentally prepared for a long road ahead.
It may be tempting to stick with what you know in these situations, and cling to old habits or working practices. However, this is one of the most dangerous ways you could react to the situation, and it risks you being left behind.
Instead, consider how you and your finances can adapt to your new situation in order to make the most of the circumstances. If you own a business, are there ways you can change your practices to work more economically or to offer others a needed service? If you have investments, are there particular areas you predict might grow as a result of the crisis?
If so, try to move your assets around as soon as possible to capitalize on these changes. After all, who doesn’t wish they had invested in Zoom back in the middle of March.
Natural disasters of any kind can be dangerous and unpredictable, both for lives and economic security. If you are unfortunate enough to be affected by one, the best way you can react is by calmly looking at the situation, using your safety nets, and being ready to adapt moving forward.
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