Disaster proof your finances
So you've carefully filed all your important documents but how
can you protect them from being destroyed if the worst happens to
your home or business?
Follow these tips to help you disaster proof your important
documents and financial records.
Consider placing originals of important documents and critical
records in a fire resistant, waterproof safe at home or in a safe
deposit box with your bank or deposit box service. Then if your
home is damaged by fire or flood those items will be protected.
Documents to safeguard
Here are some examples of the types of documents you will want
to keep safe:
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Will and powers of attorney
- House deeds
- Life insurance policies
- Home, contents, car and other insurance policies (apps like Know Risk can help you retain
these policy details)
- Health insurance policies and other important medical
- Bank account details
- Copies of your driver's licence, Medicare card, bank and credit
- Superannuation papers
- Investment documents (securities, share certificates,
- Details of funeral investments or arrangements
- A selection of photos, especially of valuable items like
jewellery, furniture or paintings (having a listed home inventory
or photographs can help you file a claim if disaster strikes)
- Receipts for expensive items in your home
Case study: Sandra and John lose their house in a bushfire
Sandra and John's home was destroyed in a bushfire
last year. They were not home when the fire hit and most of their
possessions were destroyed.
Even though they didn't live in a bushfire prone area, Sandra
and John had bought a fire proof safe to protect their important
documents. Having their documents safe made it easier for them to
contact insurers and start rebuilding their home. They had also
saved a back up copy of their photo collection on a portable hard
drive that they stored in the safe.
They were so glad they were able to save these items even though
their home couldn't be saved.
Keep an electronic
Rather than buying a safe or hiring a safe deposit box you could
backup all your information on an external hard drive. This may
include a backup of data stored on your computer, or scanned or
electronic copies of important documents and personal items.
Find somewhere safe and secure to keep this away from your home,
for example a locked drawer at work, your solicitor's office, or a
secure place in the home of a close friend or relative.
Back it up in the cloud
Cloud computing allows you to store data electronically so it's
accessible anywhere you have an internet connection. If you use a
smart phone or social networking sites and platforms you are
already using cloud technology.
While this technology is great for keeping family photos and
other information accessible, think carefully before storing
personal documents that could give a hacker access to your bank
accounts and other personal details.
Find out what sort of security the platform uses and what
safeguards are in place to protect your valuable data.
Find out more on the Australian Government's Digital Business
Use plastic for
If you are paying for something that you may need a record of,
consider using a debit or credit card to pay for it. If your
receipts are misplaced or destroyed there will still be a record on
your bank statement. Common reasons for wanting a record of your
- Being able to claim the expense as a tax deduction
- Needing proof of purchase for a warranty or insurance
If you use a credit card for purchases, try to pay it off in
full every month so you don't accrue debt.
Update your records
Whether you are keeping physical or electronic copies of your
important documents, it is important to review the documents
regularly and whenever a significant event or purchase occurs.
How often you review your information is up to you. Heavy
computer users may back-up their data on a weekly or monthly basis,
others may be storing documents that rarely change and only need
reviewing once a year.
Consider what is right for you and set appropriate
Making sure you have appropriate insurance is a
great start to recovering from an unforeseen disaster. Protecting
important documents, records and other personal items will also
make it that little bit easier if you ever have to rebuild your
life after a disaster.
Last updated: 12 Oct 2016