We are helpless before nature, no matter how much technologically advanced we are. Hurricane Irma reminded us of this harsh reality yet again.
Hurricane Irma removed Barbuda island from the world map, caused 11 deaths, and left 6.7 million people without power in 5 states of USA. The massive storm tore a path of destruction on the Caribbean islands and Southern Florida. The northern Florida, especially the city of Jacksonville is still under water.
The full extent of the devastation is not yet known, but one thing is sure. It’ll take time to get back to the normal life. The future of the South Florida residents is uncertain especially when all you can see in the recent photographs are fuel shortages, standing water and downed power lines.
While everything is in a state of emergency, it’s high time we analyze what is going to happen with our financial life. Today, I’m sharing some tips on how to deal with debt after a natural disaster like Hurricane Irma. Don’t forget, 2 more storms are yet to follow Irma. The battle is not over yet, although it’s expected that the worst phase is over.
5 Tips to deal with debt after a natural disaster
Precaution is better than cure. Hurricane Irma is just one storm. There will be many other storms in the future. Not just storms, there can be earthquakes too. It’s advisable to know how to get debt help since we never know when Mother Nature will lose her temper on us again.
Here are a few handpicked survival tips for you.
1. Don’t worry about your credit score:
Your credit score is not more important than food, clothes or shelter. It’s of least importance right now. Don’t use your savings to make payments you can’t afford. A natural disaster affects your income, psychological condition, relationships, etc. It leads to a feeling of hopelessness. Take care of your physical well-being and emotional well-being instead of thinking of your credit score. You can take care of it later.
2. Call your boss:
Are you employed or jobless? The answer to this question has a direct impact on your income and debt. If the business is ruined and your employer won’t rehire, then it’s time to think about the recovery plans. If your employer can pay you soon, then start thinking about getting back to work once the weather condition improves. The job is a priority for both paying off your debts and returning to a normal life.
3. Call your creditors:
Hurricane Irma is everywhere - Google trends, newspapers, epapers, Facebook, Twitter, news channels, You Tube, etc. Your creditors already know details of this natural disaster. Still, it is better to call your creditors and let them know that your income will be irregular, and it will take time to return to a home again.
Ask your creditors to put a note on your account that your home has been severely damaged by the storm. Some creditors may start special payment programs soon for the disaster affected consumers. Some online lenders like Prosper, Lending Club, and Avant are seriously thinking of giving temporary measures/credit card debt relief programs to support customers like they did after Hurricane harvey. These measures may include waiving off credit card late fees, changing credit card debt repayment plans, allowing debtors to opt for hardship plans, etc.
Lenders have introduced these credit card debt relief programs after Hurricane Harvey.
Discover is offering deferred payments, late-fee adjustments and due-date adjustments to Hurricane Harvey affected consumers. They can call 877-256-2632 to know about their options.
Avant has waived late fees for Harvey affected debtors in the Houston metro area. They are working with credit bureaus so that missed payments don’t affect borrowers’ credit reports in this period.
c. Lending Club
They are not charging late fees in the affected areas in Texas and Louisiana from Aug.23 to Sep 30. If anyone has been charged late fees, then it will be credited soon. Borrowers can also pay only interest and opt for hardship plans. They are also taking a special step for the borrowers who are past due. They will add a note to credit reporting agencies explaining that delinquent borrowers have been affected by a natural disaster.
4. Don’t panic and use cards:
Please don’t lose your sleep thinking ‘how to get out of debt’. You’ll get plenty of time to worry about your credit card debt later. Use one or 2 credit cards to cover all your expenses. Don’t touch your debit cards now. Try to use it for those expenses you can’t use credit cards for.
A natural disaster like Hurricane Irma or an earthquake is an understandable reason for a negative listing on your credit report. Spend every penny carefully and try to recover from the aftermath of the disaster. Spend money cautiously because it’ll take time to get a regular income again. That actually depends on the extent of the devastation.
5. Get financial assistance from insurer:
This is the right time to call your home insurer and explain that your home has been damaged or destroyed. Depending on the policies, you may get financial assistance. Take pictures of your home; as many as you can. These pictures will help you document the situation. You can also show these pictures to your creditors later.
Survey your home properly once you’re back at home. See if there is any important financial/personal document lying on the ground. Keep those documents safely or dispose it so that no one can misuse it. Don’t be a victim of a scam.
Please don’t panic. Hopefully, you’ll get debt help from your creditors. Start registering for the government recovery programs like FEMA and USDA as soon as possible. If you still need debt assistance for getting out of credit card debt, call 800-530-OVLG. We will tell you how to get out of credit card debt.