Now that the storm has passed, everyone's safe and healthy, you need to start thinking about your financial obligations. Here are some great tips from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
1. Contact your insurance company. If you have property damage from the storm, you can start your claims by calling your insurance company. make sure to take photos and videos of any and all damage. Documenting the issues will aid your insurance claim.
2. Contact your mortgage servicer. Talk to your mortgage lender right away and tell them about your situation. Damage to your home does not eliminate your responsibility to pay your mortgage, however your lender may be willing to work with you given the circumstances. If you don’t have your lender’s contact information, your monthly mortgage statement, or coupon book with you, you can search the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) or call toll-free at (888) 679-6377 to find the company that services your mortgage.
3. Loan Forbearance. Depending upon the type of loan you have, your lender may be willing to temporarily reduce or suspend your payments; this is referred to as forbearance. To learn more, visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). If you have student loans, ask your servicer if you qualify for a temporary forbearance. Federal student loan borrowers may be eligible for up to three months of forbearance.
4. Contact your credit card companies and other lenders. If you're out of work and you don’t think you will be able to pay your credit cards or other loans, contact your lenders as soon as possible. Explain the situation and ask them to work with you - once you're back to work, resume normal payments.
5. Contact your utility companies. If your home has been severely damaged and you can’t live in it, tell your utility companies to suspend your service so you can save that money for other needs.
Make every effort to reach them your creditors before your next payment is due - it may be tough with so many people affected by the storm, so be patient.