Hurricane Sandy Was a Wake-up Call on a Lot of Levels. One is: What Happens to Our Critical Family Documents When Almost Everything is Swept Away…?
Like all of us, I was appalled by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and the havoc it wreaked on so many people’s lives. Much of the extreme damage to physical property was totally unavoidable. But some of the physical loss could’ve been avoided…like the loss or destruction of our critical family documents – the wills, medical records and prescriptions…and last but not least, our insurance records. I sat down with a good friend of mine whose life’s work (and passion) is centered around helping people protect their precious documents. Darren Conte is the founder and CEO of Siftsort.com; a free platform to help organize, access and share important documents whether you have a family emergency, lose your passport or become the victim of a natural disaster…like Hurricane Sandy.
Nothing hits home more than seeing the devastation of Hurricane Sandy here in New York and thinking - what if that happened to me? How would I find the strength to move forward after losing everything I owned? Where would I start? Whether you know someone going through this heart-wrenching process or have just heard stories of people who are picking up the pieces, it's a great testimony to the human spirit. But what everyone has to face sooner or later, is the daunting process of dealing with insurance companies, FEMA, or other agencies to begin to rebuild - and get their lives back. This is where Siftsort.com can make the critical difference.
After September 11th 2001, Darren became the Head of Crisis Management and Business Contingency Planning for Goldman Sachs. His job was to ensure that the trading floors were able to stay operational after a disaster whether it be a building fire, terrorist attack, black out or natural disaster. He was in charge of coordinating with the New York Stock Exchange on behalf of Goldman Sachs to certify that the firm had a redundant operational plans that met regulatory requirements. But it was a trip to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 that Darren had his own wake-up call: People should be taking the same precautions that big companies do to ensure they can recover from a disaster. It was so obvious, it might have missed it. But he didn’t.
He and a colleague left Goldman and created Siftsort.com to provide a simple, secure way to organize insurance policies, mortgage papers, medical records, identification – all your important documents - so that if disaster stikes, or you’re just in a bind and need something immediately, you can access it, securely connect to it over the Internet and share it via fax or email with a few clicks. Darren tells me that Siftsort has been such a success that Bank of America/ Merrill Lynch has licensed the technology for their customers, to allow them to securely share documents with their financial advisors.
“Hurricane Katrina was a personal turning point for me,” Darren said. “I met a woman who had thought she’d done everything right. She’d placed all her jewelry, and insurance papers in a safe deposit box at the local bank. But Katrina had flooded the bank with over 13 feet of water making it impossible to retrieve anything. The bank was eventually condemned and never reopened, so she lost everything. And the fact that she had no proof of what she’d placed in her box – added insult to injury. With Siftsort.com she could simply have uploaded digital photos, receipts, scanned the insurance policy for easy retrieval…and filed a claim.”
I included Siftsort.com in my latest book, Throw Out Fifty Things, Clear the Clutter Find Your Life for a reason. As you clear the physical clutter out of our life, when you come across something important, it would be really smart to sign-up at www.siftsort.com. It only takes a few minutes to ensure that you have a digital copy of it for safekeeping and future reference. You never know when you'll need it. And you’ll sleep better knowing you can find it… Plus, it’s free. So just do it.