NEW YORK - With the focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, the coming hurricane and wildfire season is likely not on many Americans' radars right now. However, with tens of millions more Americans in a financially precarious position over the last couple of months, it's more important than ever to be prepared for a natural disaster. Recent data found that while many Americans have taken at least one step towards being prepared, there are still more actions that can be taken in the short term to help protect their finances and their families should disaster strike.
Six in ten Americans (61 percent) believe they are likely to be personally impacted by a natural disaster in the next three to five years, including one in five (19 percent) saying they are very likely to be personally impacted. That's according to an American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) survey of 2,050 U.S. adults conducted by The Harris Poll in the fall of 2019.
Natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes and wildfires happen every year. In fact, 2019 marked the fifth consecutive year that ten or more weather and climate disasters with at least a billion-dollars of associated losses affected the United States.
"In the face of a natural disaster, protecting your family from harm should be your primary concern," said Gregory J. Anton, CPA, CGMA, chair of the AICPA's National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. "During the recovery process, access to financial resources and personal information is critically important. Taking action to put together a plan today will help protect your family and your finances should you ever find yourself impacted by a natural disaster."
Nearly four in ten Americans (37 percent) admit they do not have a good sense of how much recovering from a natural disaster would cost their family financially. And seven in ten (71 percent) say that such an event would have a major or moderate impact on their financial situation, including a third (33 percent) who said there would be a major impact.
"It is a good idea to run through the calculations for potential damage, finding temporary housing and other recovery costs, so you can check to see if you would have enough cash on hand to cover it," added Anton. "Review your insurance to be sure you have the right amount of coverage and that you're not overpaying. Make sure you know what is covered and don't be afraid to comparison shop periodically to see if switching makes sense."