PRESS RELEASE - Illinois CPA Society
Let them know your situation and ask for more time or an altered payment schedule. Pay what bills you can to keep your credit record in good standing.
Complete an inventory.
If you don't already have an inventory of your possessions, make one from observation and memory; get input from family, friends and anyone who's familiar with your home. The more details, the more accurate your insurance claims, and you'll know exactly what needs to be replaced.
Reconstruct your records.
Pull together whatever you can - receipts, canceled checks, statements, insurance policies, and other records. Check with your bank, state or county offices and others you do business with for financial details that may be missing, like property deeds or tax records. These records will help you prove the value of items for insurance and eligibility for important tax refunds or deductions.
File and Follow-up on Insurance Claims.
Notify your insurance company of your losses. Find out how they want you to process claims and file them as quickly as possible. Although claims are usually settled in the order received, priority may be given to severe cases so ask for an estimate of the processing period and follow-up accordingly if you don't hear from them.
Use available resources.
If you're in a major disaster area, you might be eligible for grants or loans through agencies such as FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). Seek out other organizations like the American Red Cross, the Small Business Administration (SBA) or state agencies who offer personal assistance and publications with details on insurance claims and financial aid.
Think ahead to tax season.
In addition to the proof needed to claim losses, special casualty loss rules apply in a federally declared disaster area. Also tax filing deadlines and payment schedules may be extended.
Don't do anything you wouldn't do under normal circumstances.
While the situation seems urgent, don't make hasty decisions, financial or otherwise. Read all documents and assistance papers carefully. When dealing with a contractor, proceed as you usually do: get recommendations, obtain estimates and contracts in writing, and check the terms. Don't give away too much personal information, like Social Security or bank account numbers, to someone claiming to offer a helping hand.
Consider getting expert help.
Think about consulting a CPA or financial professional. Again, family, friends and other advisors can help you find someone with the expertise and experience to get your finances together, take full advantage of tax refunds and deductions, and start planning for the future.