Attorney General Janet Mills and Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap offer resources on damaged vehicles

Posted in News, Tip Of The Month |

09/20/2017 02:37 PM EDT Mills and Dunlap inform consumers how to check vehicle history to avoid flood damage AUGUSTA – In light of the anticipated high volume of flood-damaged automobiles in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap recommend that consumers inform themselves about their rights before purchasing a used vehicle. After past hurricane events, authorities reported truckloads of flooded vehicles being taken out of the impact zone where they were dried out, cleaned and readied for sale to unsuspecting consumers in states that do not brand flood vehicles. It is estimated that due to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, as many as 1 million flood-damaged automobiles could be passed on to unsuspecting buyers in the coming weeks and months. “We encourage prospective purchasers to be aware of their rights and the resources available to them from Maine and the federal government,” said Attorney General Mills. “The Office of the Attorney General and the Secretary of State’s Office both fight to protect consumers from unscrupulous business practices and offer resources for consumers to access before buying a vehicle.” The Maine Office of the Attorney General has consumer information available at http://www.maine.gov/ag/consumer/motor_vehicles/index.shtml specific to purchasing new and used vehicles in Maine. Consumers can also call the Attorney General’s Lemon Law Arbitration Program at 626-8848, or utilize the Attorney General’s Consumer Mediation Service by calling 1-800-436-2131 or...

Read More

8 Questions to Ask Before Buying Auto Insurance

Posted in Tip Of The Month |

You and your car together represent a unique combination—and you’ll get the best insurance value by shopping for a policy that perfectly matches it. Your coverage should reflect your needs, priorities and budget. You’ll want to evaluate how you use your car, what risks you face and what options you want from an insurer before you compare policies and insurers.   Take a Good Look at Yourself—and Your Car Consider the following questions when you’re getting ready to shop for auto insurance: 1. How Much Do You Love Your Car? Okay, your car is not a family member or even a person, but do you have a very special attachment to it? If so, you’ll want it fixed perfectly—or replaced with the same model—if anything happens to it. So shop for the fullest range of insurance, including collision, comprehensive and even glass coverage. On the other hand, if you drive a beater, see cars as interchangeable and want to save on premiums, you might consider purchasing only liability insurance.   2. How Much Do You Drive? Do you absolutely need your car every day—for instance, to get to work? Or is owning a car mostly a matter of convenience that you could forgo if needed? Do you drive 100 miles a month or closer to 1,000 or more? Make sure your policy reflects how much you drive. If you don’t drive a lot, you may want to opt for mileage-based insurance.   3. Will You Be Using Your Car for Work? If you use your car not just to get to work, but to perform work tasks, commercial auto insurance is a necessity. A personal auto policy will not provide coverage if you deliver pizzas, drive as a courier, transport paying passengers through a ride-share service or use your car for other commercial activities.   4. What Type of Car Do You Drive? Insurers have mountains of data, and they know in precise detail what types of cars, makes and models are more—or less—likely to incur claims. A flashy sports car with a powerful engine may be more likely to be stolen and cost a lot for body work than a mid-sized sedan—and your insurance will be priced accordingly. By the same token, you may receive discounts if your car has the latest safety features and a good safety record.   5. Where Do You Live—and Park? Where you live will impact your insurance rates—and it may be a factor in what coverage you purchase. For example, cars parked on the street in urban areas face a greater risk for theft or vandalism, so you may want to purchase comprehensive coverage. You may discover that your rates fall if...

Read More

9 Home Security Tips

Posted in Tip Of The Month |

Your home is one of your most valuable possessions, along with everything inside. It is a place you want to feel safe and secure from the potential dangers of the outside world. Employing and engaging in some basic best practices around home security is the first step to help create a secure environment for your loved ones and family. Consider these tips to help keep you and your family, and your possessions, safe and secure. Landscape with safety in mind. As you walk around your property, look for areas that could be potential hiding spots for thieves, who prize the privacy they provide. Try and clear away any overgrown areas. Talk with your local police department. Ask your police department to come and inspect your home and property and provide suggestions to increase home security. They can also offer insight on past break-in trends in your area. Know your neighbors. Take the time to meet and engage with people on your street and encourage them to watch out for any suspicious activity when you are not home. Lighting matters. Lighting can set the right ambiance inside your home, but outdoor lighting can be the difference between your home being targeted – or not – by thieves. Motion-sensitive fixtures can help add security and provide light when needed. Also consider using automatic timers or a smart lightbulb that can be controlled remotely to turn lights on and off in various parts of the house to help make it seem like you are home. Avoid advertising that shopping spree. Thieves look for and steal newly-delivered boxes on your front porch, a method called porch pirating, so consider having them delivered elsewhere or requiring a signature for delivery. Thieves may also look at clues provided by your trash or recycling, which may indicate the new computer or flat-screen television inside. Set a safety routine. Make sure you establish a routine where you regularly lock all doors, shut windows and turn on your alarm system every time you leave your home. Avoid leaving spare keys outside, under a planter or under a welcome mat, as thieves know most of the potential hiding places. Manage visibility. Make sure you can see who is at your front door without opening it. Avoid placing valuables where they will be visible from the street, and do not place your home alarm panel in a place where people can see you arming it from the outside. Protect your outdoor valuables. Burglars also target sheds, garages and other outdoor buildings. Secure your grill, lawn mower, bicycles and other outdoor gear. Create a plan for when you are away. Hold your mail, stop your papers and ask a friend or...

Read More

Top Reasons to Purchase Renters Insurance

Posted in Tip Of The Month |

Renters insurance – also called home and contents insurance – covers your belongings from theft and damage. It provides liability coverage if someone is injured while in your apartment. Part of that liability coverage, which is typically about $2,000, is to pay the injured person’s medical bills. It can also pay for any lawyer fees and settlements. Renters insurance will pay for the loss of use of your apartment, meaning you can receive payment to stay in a hotel or other place if your apartment is damaged by a fire, storm or other covered event. It covers your belongings while off premises, which means your belongings are covered while you are traveling or if you leave them in your car. For example, if your laptop is stolen from your car or if your luggage is stolen while on vacation, you can file a claim and receive payment. There are a few broad reasons for you to purchase contents insurance. They include theft of your belongings and damage to your belongings caused by fire, lightning, windstorms, hail, explosions, smoke, vandalism and plumbing leaks. Let’s review a few specific scenarios that emphasize the top reasons to purchase renters insurance.   Theft If you have a computer, you know how valuable it is for storing data, running applications, scrolling the web and entertainment purposes such as streaming video. The documents, data, photos and videos you keep on your computer are irreplaceable. Most renters insurance offers a standard payout, often replacement value, if your computer is stolen or damaged. If you feel you need additional coverage, you can purchase an endorsement, or extra coverage, for your computer, as well as other items such as jewelry, silverware, firearms, business personal property and almost anything you want to insure.   Fire You come home one evening and fire trucks and firefighters are wrapping up hoses and stowing their firefighting gear on the fire truck parked outside your apartment building. Your neighbor fell asleep with a lit cigarette. Your apartment did not burn, but it and everything in it – including your clothes – were damaged by smoke. Renters insurance can pay you for your loss and pay for a place to stay while the damage is repaired.   Water Damage A pipe bursts in your ceiling while you’re at work and pours water onto your great grandmother’s Stickley rocking chair. The leather upholstery is ruined. It’s a notable antique and worth a pretty penny. Your renters insurance will pay to repair the rocker. It’s important to have renters insurance because your landlord’s insurance doesn’t usually cover your personal belongings.   Personal Injury While visiting your apartment to introduce herself, your nosy neighbor who plays her...

Read More

How to Help Winterize Your Car

Posted in Tip Of The Month |

You may be inclined to think that your car runs well without much maintenance year-round, and besides an occasional trip to the mechanic for an oil change, any preparation for the winter months is not high on your priority list. In fact, cold temperatures and icy roads can create additional hazards for drivers and place extra seasonal strains on your car. In addition to making sure your vehicle is prepared for slippery road conditions, it is equally important to ensure it is in top mechanical condition to avoid getting stranded in bad weather.   Before You Hit the Road The cold, snow and ice can make driving dangerous if your vehicle is not properly maintained. Here are some things you can do to help prepare your car for winter: Make sure all scheduled maintenance is up-to-date. Have your mechanic check belts, fluids and hoses to help reduce the risk of a mechanical breakdown. The mechanic should also check the exhaust system for holes, missing or loose clamps and leaks. Ensure that your tires are in good condition, properly inflated and have ample tread. If you live in an area where heavy snow is common, consider having snow or winter tires installed. Be aware of the various state laws, which dictate if and when chains and studded tires can be used. Make sure your heater and window defrosters are working properly. Check that your lights and windshield wipers are operating properly. Also, check that your engine coolant and washer fluid reservoirs are full and that the fluids are protected with a sufficient percentage of antifreeze for the temperatures in the area where you will be driving.  Make sure your battery and connections are in good condition. Even a newer battery can fail if it gets cold enough or the battery terminals are not clean and corrosion-free. Check your oil for proper level and weight (viscosity). Heavier oils become thicker (more viscous) at low temperatures, which can make the engine harder to start.  Make sure your gas tank is full and your phone is charged. In bad weather, roads could either be backed up for hours or closed.  If you drive in remote areas or are planning a long trip, keep a winter survival kit in your car. We know that winter can create challenging conditions for drivers. But we also know that adequate preparation can help keep you safe, even under the worst weather conditions. We encourage you to drive carefully in adverse weather conditions and to avoid driving in blizzard conditions unless absolutely necessary. Information courtesy of our partners at Travelers | www.travelers.com  Subscribe to our blog If you would like to receive informative articles about saving money, staying...

Read More

Maine CDC Offers Tips To Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning This Winter

Posted in News, Tip Of The Month |

With winter fast approaching, health officials of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention are urging Mainers to take steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. “More carbon monoxide poisonings happen in the winter than any other time in Maine, but we can all protect ourselves and our families by having our heating systems serviced each year, and making sure we have working carbon monoxide detectors in our homes,” said Maine Department of Health and Human Services State Health Officer Dr. Christopher Pezzullo. In Maine, about 75 percent of all reported cases of carbon monoxide poisoning occur between November and March. Most of these poisonings are caused by home heating appliances that are not working properly or that have blocked vents. Anything that burns fuel, such as an oil or propane boiler or wood stove, produces carbon monoxide. When these appliances are not properly maintained or vented, carbon monoxide can quickly build up inside a home without anyone noticing. Carbon monoxide cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, and can be deadly. As of 2013, more than half (65%) of Maine homes had a carbon monoxide detector, indicating that many residents have already taken action to protect their families from carbon monoxide poisoning. Portable, gas-powered generators that many Maine residents use when the power goes out can also cause severe carbon monoxide poisonings and deaths when used improperly. One portable generator can produce as much carbon monoxide gas as 100 idling cars, and can increase the chance of getting carbon monoxide poisoning by 20 to 300-fold when run in a basement or garage. “Now is a great time to make a plan for using your generator so that you are prepared to use it safely during a storm,” said Dr. Pezzullo. Anyone with a portable generator should have an extension cord long enough to make sure the generator can be run outside, at least 15 feet from windows or doors, and a plan for keeping the generator protected from rain, ice, and snow. Making a plan now can help residents avoid the temptation to run a generator inside a basement, garage or cellar bulkhead during a storm. “We are also highly concerned about people who leave motors running while they work on them in garages or in buildings. This is extremely dangerous, even if windows or doors are open,” said Dr. Pezzullo. About one in eight carbon monoxide poisonings each year occur in garages, sheds or barns while people conduct engine repair or maintenance. While the best prevention is to keep carbon monoxide from ever building up in your home or other enclosed spaces, having an electric carbon monoxide detector with a battery backup near where people sleep can save...

Read More