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Tips Archives

January 2014

Structural permits
When do I need a structural permit?
A permit is required to construct, enlarge, alter, move, or replace any home or related structure.

For example, a permit is required to:

If you are not sure you need a permit, check out PermitsProtect.info; it is a great resource for additional information.

2014 health insurance
If you are on your own to buy health insurance, you have through March 31, 2014, to pick a plan. More information.
http://www.cbs.state.or.us/external/ins/consumer/health-insurance/choosing-2014.html

Freeze your credit file for added security
The Target data breach is a good reminder to people about protecting their identity. There are preventive measures you can take to protect yourself from identity theft. One is placing a security freeze on your credit file. A security freeze prevents lenders and others, including those who steal your personal information, from gaining access to your credit report. Request the freeze by contacting Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion online, by phone, or by mail. Cost is $10 per credit agency ($30 total).
Learn more.

December 2013

Tips for a financially fit 2014
With the start of the new year coming soon, make some sensible financial resolutions for 2014. Among the tips are paying down (or paying off) your credit card; create a budget and stick to it; and start an emergency fund. More information.

Victim of identity theft
If you believe you are a victim of identity theft:

For more information…

Earthquake insurance
Although most homeowner, mobile home, condominium, and renter insurance policies do not cover earthquake damage, you can buy coverage separately. About 20 percent of Oregonians have this coverage. While deductibles are relatively high to keep premiums down, this insurance may help protect your biggest investment – your home. Learn more.

Be wary of unlicensed payday lenders
Oregon law limits how much can be charged for a payday loan, but unlicensed lenders don’t follow the law. For example, state law states the most you should pay in interest and fees for a $100 loan is $13.06. You have 31 days to pay back the loan, and you should get a written agreement spelling out the details. More information.

November 2013

Beware of different types of scams
Oregon investors lost millions of dollars in 2013 in classic high-risk investments involving everything from a gold mine to oil and gas schemes to a struggling Russian ethanol plant. All of the cases involved unlicensed promoters selling unregistered investments. Call 866-814-9710 (toll-free in Oregon) to see if someone is licensed to sell investments. More information.

Flooding insurance
Most homeowner, renter, and business policies do not cover flooding. However, you can buy flood insurance, which covers tsunami losses, through the National Flood Insurance Program. You must buy through an agent. For an agent referral, call 888-379-9531 (toll-free).

Mechanical permits
Building permits are required for any new construction or alterations and additions to existing buildings.
A mechanical permit is required when you:

If you are not sure you need a permit, check out PermitsProtect.info; it is a great resource for additional information.

Keeping young adults on your health plan
Young adults can now stay on their parents’ health care plan until age 26, even if they no longer live at home or no longer are a student or dependent on the parents’ tax return. Both married and unmarried children qualify.
Learn more.

October 2013

Finding an insurance agent
A good insurance agent can help you compare insurance, explain how it works, and fill out an application. But how do you find an agent? Ask co-workers, friends, and family for recommendations. Referrals are a great way to narrow your list of potential agents. You should also verify that an agent is licensed with the Oregon Insurance Division. Call an insurance consumer advocate for help with this: 1-888-877-4894 (toll-free).

Learn more.

Investment advice
When seeking investment advice, do you truly get what you pay for? How can you be sure? Be an informed investor. Ask more questions. Get more information. Confirm that the person who is providing such advice is properly licensed to do so in the state of Oregon by contacting the Oregon Division of Finance and Corporate Securities at 503-378-4140.

Check out Permits Protect website
The Oregon Building Codes Division’s Permits Protect website has information for homeowners to answer their questions regarding permits. It is designed to make the permitting process easier to navigate. You can find out if you need a permit, where you can get a permit, and how to check a contractor’s license. Go to www.permitsprotect.info.

Health insurance open enrollment
Health insurance open enrollment for 2014 coverage is now open. The new plans generally cover more and insurers can no longer deny coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. You can purchase coverage from an insurance agent or through Cover Oregon, the state’s health insurance marketplace. Many people will qualify for financial help if they buy through Cover Oregon. More information.

http://www.coveroregon.com

September 2013

Security freeze for children
Parents and legal guardians can now safeguard their children’s credit history from identity thieves by placing a “security freeze” on their credit files. A security freeze prevents anyone who has fraudulently obtained a person’s personal identifying information from opening a new account or borrowing money using that information.

Placing the freeze is a two-step process: the parent or guardian creates a protected record for the minor child through the three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – and then places the security freeze on that record. There is no charge to create the protected record. However, each credit-reporting agency requires a $10 fee to freeze the record. The freeze continues until the child turns 18. At that time, the child can delete the protected record.

Beware of health insurance scams
With health insurance open enrollment for 2014 starting Oct. 1, beware of scams. People may pose as representatives of Cover Oregon, the state’s health insurance marketplace, to collect fraudulent fees, sell fake insurance, or steal personal identifying information.
Keep your information safe by following these tips:

More information: CoverOregon or 855-268-3767 (toll-free)

Loan modification companies
Beware of loan modification companies that promise to modify your home mortgage loan. They often charge excessive upfront fees and do not make any modification to your loan. Get free help with your mortgage from certified housing counselors. For more information or to search for housing counselors, go to http://foreclosurehelp.oregon.gov/ or contact Debbie Myers at 503-947-7466.

Electrical permits
Building permits are required for any new construction or alterations and additions to existing buildings. An electrical permit is required when you:

August 2013

Missing life insurance policy
Have you lost a loved one who wanted to protect you with a life insurance policy but you can’t find the paperwork? The Oregon Insurance Division can help you easily search for a policy among the more than 300 companies that sell life insurance or annuities in Oregon. Learn how.

Auto insurance lapse in coverage
As long as you did not break the law by driving while uninsured, auto insurers cannot charge you more just because you dropped insurance coverage at some point in the past. Motorists might drop coverage for many legitimate reasons – they are not using their vehicle while away at college or on military service, they are using alternate transportation, or they no longer own a car, for example. Insurance companies can require people applying for insurance to explain why they went without coverage. Many companies provide a checklist so consumers can identify the valid reason that they dropped coverage. Info: Insurance consumer advocates, 888-877-4894 (toll-free).

Beware of upfront fees
If a finance or small-loan company states you have to make an upfront payment before a loan can be approved or disbursed, do not continue the loan process. Any fees will be disclosed and generally collected from the loan proceeds, never in advance. For information on whether you are working with a licensed consumer finance company or payday lender, call the Division of Finance and Corporate Securities at 503-378-4140 or 866-814-9710 (toll-free).

Foreclosure resolution conference
A new state law (Senate Bill 558) protects certain homeowners facing foreclosure. If your lender begins the foreclosure process starting Aug. 4, 2013, or later, it must offer you a face-to-face meeting to attempt to avoid foreclosure. Lenders must send homeowners a notice that includes possible dates and locations after the homeowner accepts the meeting in writing and pays a fee not to exceed $200. Information: Call 855-480-1950 (toll-free)

July 2013

Insurance consumer advocates
Do you have an insurance question? The state’s consumer advocates are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. They can:

Call 888-877-4894 (toll-free)

Be careful with credit cards
Credit cards are easy to get but hard to pay off.

Refunds for canceling a policy
If you think you can get lower premiums with another insurance company, you may be tempted to cancel an insurance policy mid-term. Before you do, see if your auto or homeowner policy has a “short rate” cancellation provision. If so, you may not get back the entire premium you paid for the canceled coverage.
Learn more.

Home inventory

Half of all Americans do not have a home inventory of their prized possessions, according to a survey by the nation’s insurance commissioners. Of those who do have an inventory, 32 percent lacked pictures, 58 percent had no receipts, and 44 percent had not stored the inventory in a safe place outside the home.
 
An inventory will ease your claims process following a loss. These tips and an app will help you create an inventory.

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June 2013

Building permits are required for any new construction or alterations and additions to existing buildings. A plumbing permit is required when you:

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Debt management companies

Beware of debt management companies that promise to settle your debt for pennies on the dollar. They often charge excessive upfront fees and do not make payments to your creditors. This process will also ruin your credit. Check that a provider is properly registered to offer services in Oregon at this webpage or
call 503-378-4140 or 866-814-9710 (toll-free in Oregon).

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Travel insurance

If you are planning a big trip, consider whether to buy travel insurance.

Travel insurance policies vary widely. While they can offer you protection, some do not cover what you expect them to. Other offers are not legitimate. Several key points:

Learn more.

Building permit requirements

Building permits are required for any new construction or alterations and additions to existing buildings.
This includes electrical, manufactured home, elevator work, structural, plumbing, mechanical, and boiler. Check out www.PermitsProtect.info for a basic list of what does and does not require a permit. Also, contact your local building department to find out the details on its permitting requirements.

Security freeze – A tool to prevent ID theft

There are preventive measures you can take to protect yourself from identity theft. One is placing a security freeze on your credit file. A security freeze prevents lenders and others, including those who steal your personal information, from gaining access to your credit report. Request the freeze by contacting Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion online, by phone, or by mail. Cost is $10 per credit agency ($30 total).

Learn more.

May 2013

Health insurance changes

If you are a small employer or an individual who buys health insurance on your own, plans, rates and rules about insurance are changing in 2014. At Oregon Health Rates, you can find:

Auto total loss

If you total your car, do you know your rights in negotiating the value of your car with the insurance company?

Learn more.

Victim of identity theft

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft:

Learn more.

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