If you had five minutes to evacuate your home today what would you take — other than ensuring the safety of your family? Also, would your most important documents be safe and accessible.
Disaster usually strikes when you least expect it, writes Dewald van den Berg, African IFRS insurance leader at PwC. And when it does, time is critical.
The issue of keeping documents and other personal information in a safe place has become more prominent in the wake of a spate of fires in Knysna and the UK earlier this year, and more recently last week’s heavy storms in Gauteng and Durban that wreaked havoc for hundreds of people.
People often overlook their personal documents and information, but being prepared is vital to restoring normal daily life after an unforeseen disaster.
There are two main reasons as to why documents and personal information need to be protected.
Firstly, a house owner will need them when making an insurance claim. Secondly, it will save the owner the administrative burden of applying for new documents.
Home owners need to ensure that they can access these documents when they need them, but they also need to make sure that they are safe from being destroyed in the event of an unforeseen disaster. One way is to keep all documents and information in a fireproof and waterproof safe or container that is easy to carry should disaster strike.
An alternative is to keep an electronic copy of all documents. It is also possible to back up files by using cloud based storage services. Using the cloud means faster and more efficient recovery of information.
While protecting your electronic files, it is important to ensure that the information is updated regularly. You should retain digital copies of property documents, such as the title deeds, insurance policies, bond documentation and any other policies.
In addition, copies of receipts, warranties and appraisals supporting the value of contents should be kept. Of course, this will be of little or no value if your insurance cover has not been updated with a complete inventory of items insured.
Online banking may also help in the event of main roads been closed, or if you are evacuated to another location.
Cloud backup is the one of the most efficient ways to prevent a complete loss of data in the event of an unforeseen disaster. Household owners need to consider taking steps now to plan for an unexpected disaster. That way, they may well be satisfied with grabbing a family heirloom in the frenzied few minutes during an evacuation.