Living through a pandemic rang an alarm to spend more money on and attention to their safety.

2 minute read

Debt.com’s latest financial survey reveals more Americans plan to spend more preparing for natural disasters than last year.

Out of the 1,200 Americans Debt.com surveyed, just over 3 in 10 said they were “spending a little more than usual” getting ready for a hurricane, tornado, flood, blizzard, or earthquake because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic left many Americans in a precarious financial situation that a natural disaster could only leave worse. How much worse? More than a quarter of those who went through a natural disaster need to use a credit card to pay for the recovery efforts.

Forty-two percent of those respondents said it caused them to “take on $500 or more in credit card debt.”

Debt.com’s chairman, Howard Dvorkin, believes the sudden shock of COVID-19 may have caused more Americans to prioritize their spending better and plan for the worst.

“Even during the pandemic, we saw how Americans were changing their spending and saving habits, often for the better,” says Debt.com chairman Howard Dvorkin, CPA. “Now we’re seeing how long that will last. At least in this one area, for this one year, it’s obvious: COVID-19 took such a terrible and sudden toll, no one wants to be caught unprepared again – for anything.”

How the pandemic impacts how we prepare for a natural disaster

When asked if the pandemic changed how they’ll think about other disaster scenarios, 50 percent said they’ll “prepare the same as always.” More telling, 14 percent said the pandemic “actually made them more doubtful of government warnings and suggestions preparing for natural disasters.”

The American Institute of CPAs conducted a similar survey last May, right before hurricane and wildfire season.

At the time, 61 percent of respondents said they “believe they are likely to be personally impacted by a natural disaster in the next three to five years, including one in five (19 percent) saying they are very likely to be personally impacted.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports last year was a “record-shattering year,” with natural disaster damages adding up to a collective $95 billion.

With those alarming figures, Gregory J. Anton, CPA and a spokesman for AICPA doesn’t believe Americans should take a risk ignoring government warnings and neglecting to make a plan.

“In the face of a natural disaster, protecting your family from harm should be your primary concern,” Anton said. “During the recovery process, access to financial resources and personal information is critically important. Taking action to put together a plan today will help protect your family and your finances should you ever find yourself impacted by a natural disaster.”

Anton recommends forward-thinking with a plan – not only for your family’s physical safety – but financial safety, as well.

“It is a good idea to run through the calculations for potential damage, finding temporary housing and other recovery costs, so you can check to see if you would have enough cash on hand to cover it,” added Anton. “Review your insurance to be sure you have the right amount of coverage and that you’re not overpaying. Make sure you know what is covered and don’t be afraid to comparison shop periodically to see if switching makes sense.”

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About the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Joe Pye started writing about debt and personal finance five years ago while attending Florida Atlantic University, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the student-run newspaper, the University Press. Before graduating with a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism, Pye placed as a finalist for the Mark of Excellence award by the Society of Professional Journalists Region 3 for feature writing and in-depth reporting. In 2021, Pye earned First Place in the Green Eyeshade awards for "Best Blog" for his side-project BrowardBeer.com. Since taking a full-time position as associate editor at Debt.com in 2018, Pye has become a certified debt management professional who's applied what he's learned to his personal life by paying down more than $22,000 worth of combined credit card, student loan, auto and tax debt in less than two years.

Published by Debt.com, LLC