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Winter has definitely landed — and just in time for the holidays — with the National Weather Service predicting a significant winter storm in the Midwest. Heavy snowfall and strong winds, and various types of sometimes severe winter weather are expected in much of the country in the days leading up to Christmas.
When a winter storm strikes, you might think preparation means a quick trip to the grocery store before the bread and milk run out. But a winter storm can close businesses, cause major car wrecks, damage your home and knock out power. That’s why it’s also important to think ahead about how you’d weather a bad winter storm financially.
Check your insurance coverage
In 2021, winter storm damage racked up a record-setting $15.5 billion in insured losses, according to data from Aon, an insurance company. That’s the year Texas was hit by winter storms that crippled the power grid, reminding Americans that snow, ice and freezing temperatures can cause the most damage when they occur in the unlikeliest places.
What kind of damage are we talking about? If a frozen water pipe bursts, it could flood your home and ruin your possessions. A buildup of ice on your roof could cause water to leak into your house. A patch of black ice on the highway could cause a wreck that brings hefty car repair and medical bills.
That makes your insurance coverage critical after a blizzard or ice storm. But don’t wait till you’re in the throes of an emergency to figure out what’s covered or how to file a storm damage insurance claim. Updating your policies or asking questions about your coverage before a storm hits will save your time, energy and money when you need them most.
Disaster-proof your credit
Like with other natural disasters, winter storm damage can have a lasting impact on your finances. If you miss a bill or have to put big expenses on your credit card, you could see your credit score drop. You can take steps now to protect your credit in the event of a natural disaster.
For example, having extra cash available could ease the stress of needing to replace food or stay in a hotel if the power in your home goes out for a long time. If you have an emergency fund set up, consider adding to it. If you don’t, prioritize starting one.
Make a financial emergency kit
Alongside your snow shovels, flashlights and extra nonperishable food, you should have quick access to important documents you’d need in an emergency. Unexpected things happen, and you don’t want to find yourself scrambling for contact information or medical records as you’re fleeing your frozen home. Compiling and preserving documents that help you get in touch with insurance companies, access medical care or prove your identity could all help you recover after a natural disaster.