July 22, 2018 10:52 pm

Disaster Preparedness: What You Need to Know

Volcanic eruptions in Hawaii, tornados in North Carolina and Alabama, severe flooding in Indiana, and Winter Storms Quinn and Skylar in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have disrupted the lives of millions of individuals and caused substantial property damages to homes, vehicles, and other personal property. These events should serve as a warning to everyone to be prepared. Here are some things do so for disaster preparedness.

Safeguard your tax records

You need records to prepare your tax returns. If records are damaged or destroyed by a disaster, you may be able to recreate them. But it’s unlikely you’ll remember everything. Without good records, you may miss out on tax breaks to which you would otherwise be entitled.

The IRS advises that you create electronic copies of documents needed for federal tax purposes. For example, you can scan receipts, bank statements, and other documents you use for tax return preparation. Also keep electronic copies of old tax returns to use in current year return preparation (e.g., for carryover reminders).

Check your insurance coverage

As a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, casualty losses are generally not deductible in 2018 through 2025 even though you itemize personal deductions. The only permissible deduction is for losses in a federally-declared disaster area. To avoid any out-of-pocket losses, make sure your homeowner’s policy covers the types of risks you face in your location. Obtain flood insurance if you’re located in a flood area or if such insurance is advisable for you.

The IRS also advises you to take photographs or make a video tape of the room-by-room contents of your home. This will help you recover the maximum from your insurance policy if you need to. Again, store this electronically for easy access after a disaster.

Update your contacts list

In addition to people you may want or need to contact when disaster strikes, be sure have add government and business contacts to your list, such as:

  • IRS: 866-562-5227 (IRS specialist trained to handle disaster-related issues)
  • FEMA: 800-621-3362
  • Your insurance company


With the hurricane season running from June 1 through November 30, the possibility of more disasters in 2018 remains high. Are you prepared?