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McMinnville, Oregon is a great place to live. We have nice summers and pleasant winters. However, the months of rain we experience allows for the perfect environment for moss to grow in. Moss may seem innocent enough, but if left untreated it can do long-term expensive damage to your roof. Why? Usually when it rains, the rain will roll down the roof, or it air dries. When there is moss present, it traps the moisture onto the roof, and acts similar to a sponge. This can result in the moisture building up and going underneath the shingles of the roof. This can cause rot, mold, or water damage. Not only will it cause various hazards, but it can also compromise the structural integrity of the roof, making it unsafe.

Removing moss can be equally as hazardous if not done properly. The universal recommendation is to not use a pressure washer. The powerful force of the pressure washer can damage the shingles and decrease their overall lifespan. An active way to protect your roof from moss is to prevent it from happening in the first place. There are a few ways to do this, and if you take the time to do these small steps, you could be saving yourself from major repairs in the future. Moss thrives in shaded areas. If you have tree branches that hang over your roof, you can trim them back to prevent further moss growth. You can also remove debris, like leaves or sticks, from the roof and gutters. Another active step you can take to keep moss at bay is to nail zinc strips along the ridge caps that are along the peak of the roof. When it rains (which happens a lot in McMinnville!) zinc will be released onto the roof and it will work to inhibit moss growth. Typically these strips last for a year, and they work best if they are started in a moss free environment.

Whatever method you would like to use to either remove moss, or prevent it from growing, make sure you are safe! Going up on a roof can be dangerous, and if there is moss growing, it may not be safe to walk on it. If you have doubts about which method would work best for you, or if you are unsure what steps to take, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional. Living in the Pacific Northwest is a wonderful experience. We want to make sure that the life of your roof can last many years in our beautiful (and wet!) corner of the world. Homeowners insurance is another line of defense against various perils. If you have any questions about the benefits of homeowners insurance, various coverages that are available, or you would like a free quote please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We would be happy to help!

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Water damage can be stressful and cause losses that may not be covered by insurance. If a leak happens over an extended period of time, there is a chance it may not be a covered loss. It is never a good day to have to inform a customer that the damage caused by a leaking water pipe will have to be paid out of pocket. In order to prevent losses like this from happening, we want to offer a few tips to help you identify a leak, or prevent one from happening in your home.

Checking your water bill every month is a great place to start . If you notice one month is unusually higher than the others, that may be sign there is a leak somewhere in the home. Taking a few moments to look over your bill, could save you the pain of fixing an expensive leak.

Another step you can take, to avoid leaks or water damage, is to clean your gutters and downspout at least twice a year. This will ensure that there will be no standing water or overflow that could result in roof damage. It is also important to make sure water is being carried away from your home. This can be accomplished by verifying that the downspout is pointed away from the house. If  it’s not, it can result in puddles around the base of the home that may leak into the foundation and could result in water damage.

To further minimize damage that can happen in the event of a water leak, it is worth it to take care of an issue right away. If it is left untreated, it can result in mold, mildew, dry rot, or even structural damage. These issues may not be covered under homeowners insurance, so the repairs would have to come out of pocket. If you notice discoloration, a musty smell, change in the walls texture, or hear a dripping sound make sure you do further inspection, this could mean that there is a leak in your wall. 

Our hope is that these tips will help protect your home from water damage.  If you have further questions, or would like to receive a free home quote, please do not hesitate to contact us!

 

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When you buy a home, the lender will most likely require the purchase of Homeowners insurance. There are many different policies that offer a variety of coverage, and it can be overwhelming or difficult to navigate through all the options. That is where we come in! We can help match you with the right one and make sure all of your needs are being met.

Homeowners insurance can protect you from a variety of perils. It can cover interior damage, exterior damage, or total destruction. What does this mean for you? Do you live in a wooded area? Are the trees surrounding your home at risk of catching on fire during a thunder and lightning storm? Or falling over due to wind? Do you worry about what to do in the event of sudden water damage? Broken glass? Theft?  If you have homeowners insurance you can rest easy knowing that your home and valuables will be taken care of.

Here are a few facts you may not know about homeowners insurance:

  • There are losses that may not be covered.
  • Home maintenance matters.
  • Your credit history may affect the rate you pay.
  • Certain dog breeds may not be covered under homeowners insurance.
  • Installing a security system, or other home safety features,  may mean a discount for you.
  • You should create a home inventory. This can help you understand the value of your personal property, so you can make sure you are getting the right coverage. It will also be helpful to have in the event of a loss.

If you would like to know more about any of these facts, or  would like a quote for homeowners insurance, please do not hesitate to call or email. We would love to discuss your needs and find a policy that will protect one of your most important assets.

 

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Health insurance can be confusing at times, this video breaks it down and explains the basics. For additional information or any questions you may have, please feel free to contact us!

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Why should you look any further? Our agency has entered the 2018 Circle of Champions! Why is this so important?  We were able to  demonstrate a continued dedication to helping Oregonians enroll in a health insurance plan, and also went above and beyond to make sure that the individual or small business was well taken care of.  What does this mean for you? When you come to our agency you  can rest assured that you will receive the help  and support you need from someone who has the experience and knowledge to connect you with the health insurance coverage that  you require.   In the words of Kevin Counihan, the Marketplace CEO: “Agents and brokers, like the ones we have recognized, are there for people in the community…  They help people get the coverage they need for their families, when they need it.”

For more information call or email us anytime!

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You’ve probably heard a lot about how to save money on your home insurance by shopping around and doing what you can to appear as a good risk to the insurer. However, even with all those factors considered, the premium you are charged still depends on the insurance company’s underlying rates and how they apply to you. While the whole process might seem very arbitrary as a layperson, there’s actually a lot going on behind the scenes. In many instances, the rates are regulated by each state and that should also lend a bit of credibility to the premiums.

Insurance has traditionally been regulated by each state and not the federal government. As a result, insurance premiums, rates, and methodologies for the application of these charges can vary widely from state to state. When you are evaluating your insurance, it’s most important to isolate your review to the state in which the insurance is purchased and will apply. For example, if you are insuring a house in California, it’s largely irrelevant what your insurer is charging for houses in Arizona.

Within each state, the rating methodology may be somewhat different. Insurance companies need to file their rates with the state department of insurance, and oftentimes, the state will negotiate with or pressure the insurers to not raise rates. As a result of the influence of state regulators, your premium is not always purely a function of your personal claims history or viability as a risk to the insurance company. The degree of regulation required by states causes your insurance company to keep premiums within a certain boundary, both high and low. While this can benefit you by insulating you from outrageously high premiums, it can also have the negative effect of causing you to pay a little more than the rock-bottom prices you might otherwise be entitled to.

A good way to understand the cost of home insurance in your state is to check with your state’s department of insurance. The websites of each state are frequently filled with information about various insurance companies doing business in the state and the rates that they have filed for homeowners insurance. To find your state’s department of insurance, you can visit the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) website, which has a great map that links you directly to your state’s resources.

Before you get upset at the fact that your rates are set somewhat out of your control, you should keep in mind that the underlying principle of insurance is of pooling risk. Therefore, it’s not realistic to always expect to have the absolute cheapest premium of anyone in your state. Inevitably, you will have a claim one day and the regulation in place protects you from having your premiums go through the roof the following year. This inability of insurance companies to wildly adjust your premiums is a great benefit derived from insurance regulation. The states will usually only allow a certain percentage of rate increase from one year to the next, shielding you from the uncertainty of great cost. After all, insurance is there to protect you from all sorts of uncertainties and insurance premiums themselves should be no different.

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As a certified agent for Cover Oregon and the federal marketplace, I get a lot of questions about the new health care law.  Many people have asked how this law affects them and their community.  In this post I want to share some of the ways that the law is already affecting Oregonians as provided by healthcare.gov.

At the end of the first annual open enrollment period, enrollment in the Marketplace surged to eight million people nationwide. In Oregon alone, 68,308 individuals selected a Marketplace plan between October 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014 (including additional special enrollment period activity through April 19, 2014).

Of the 68,308 Oregonians who selected a plan:

  • 57% are female and 43% are male;
  • 27% are under age 35;
  • 22% are between the ages of 18 and 34;
  • 66% selected a Silver plan, while 22% selected a Bronze plan; and,
  • 80% selected a plan with financial assistance.

 

Oregon has received $305,206,587 in grants for research, planning, information technology development, and implementation of its Marketplace.

 

Medicaid

Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP is open year round.  An additional 273,681 Oregonians enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP through the end of March 2014, compared to enrollment before the Marketplace opened October 1, 2013.  Twenty-six states and Washington, D.C. have expanded Medicaid so far, with the federal government providing 100 percent of the funds for the newly eligible population for the next three years, and never less than 90 percent after that. Oregon has taken advantage of the new opportunity to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

 

Mental Health

The Affordable Care Act increases access to comprehensive coverage by requiring most health plans to cover ten essential health benefit categories, to include hospitalization, prescription drugs, maternity and newborn care, and mental health and substance use disorder services.  The health care law expands mental health and substance use disorder benefits and federal parity protections for 62 million Americans nationwide, including 817,160 Oregonians.

 

New coverage options for young adults

Under the health care law, if your plan covers children, you can now add or keep your children on your health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old. Thanks to this provision, over 3 million young people who would otherwise have been uninsured have gained coverage nationwide, including 43,000 young adults in Oregon.

 

Ending discrimination for pre-existing conditions  

As many as 1,692,205 non-elderly Oregonians have some type of pre-existing health condition, including 206,964 children.  Today, most insurers can no longer deny coverage to anyone because of a pre-existing condition, like asthma or diabetes, under the health care law.  And they can no longer charge women more because of their gender.

 

Providing better value for your premium dollar through the 80/20 Rule

Health insurance companies now have to spend at least 80 cents of your premium dollar on health care or improvements to care, rather than administrative costs like salaries or marketing, or they have to provide you a refund.  This means that 22,346 Oregonians with private insurance coverage benefited from $2,928,540 in refunds from insurance companies in 2012, for an average refund of $206 per family covered by a policy.

 

Scrutinizing unreasonable premium increases 

In every State and for the first time under Federal law, insurance companies are required to publicly justify their actions if they want to raise rates by 10 percent or more. Oregon has received $8,635,586 under the new law to help fight unreasonable premium increases. Since implementing the law, the fraction of requests for insurance premium increases of 10 percent or more has dropped dramatically, from 75 percent to 14 percent nationally.  To date, the rate review program has helped save Americans an estimated $1 billion.

 

Removing lifetime limits on health benefits 

The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits – freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. Already, 1,356,000 people in Oregon, including 529,000 women and 342,000 children, are free from worrying about lifetime limits on coverage. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely starting in 2014.

Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay

The health care law requires many insurance plans to provide coverage without cost sharing to enrollees for a variety of preventive health services, such as colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits, and flu shots for all children and adults.

In 2011 and 2012, 71 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing, including 907,000 in Oregon. And women can now get coverage without cost-sharing of even more preventive services they need.  Approximately 47 million women, including 633,784 in Oregon will now have guaranteed access to additional preventive services without cost-sharing.

 

Increasing support for community health centers

The health care law increases the funding available to community health centers nationwide. In Oregon, 30 health centers operate 213 sites, providing preventive and primary health care services to 311,298 people.  Health Center grantees in Oregon have received $133,134,731 under the health care law to support ongoing health center operations and to establish new health center sites, expand services, and/or support major capital improvement projects.

Community Health Centers in all 50 states also received a total of $150 million in federal grants to help enroll uninsured Americans in the Health Insurance Marketplace, including $3,584,396 awarded to Oregon health centers.  Oregon health centers anticipated using these funds to hire 457 additional workers who would assist 96,477 Oregonians with enrollment into affordable health insurance coverage.

 

Investing in the primary care workforce

As a result of historic investments through the health care law and the Recovery Act, the numbers of clinicians in the National Health Service Corps are near all-time highs with 8,900 Corps clinicians providing care to more than 9.3 million people who live in rural, urban, and frontier communities.  The National Health Service Corps repays educational loans and provides scholarships to primary care physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, behavioral health providers, and other primary care providers who practice in areas of the country that have too few health care professionals to serve the people who live there.  As of September 30, 2013, there were 221 Corps clinicians providing primary care services in Oregon, compared to 49 in 2008.

Preventing illness and promoting health

Through Fiscal Year 2013, Oregon has received $27,075,484 in grants from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the health care law. This fund was created to support effective policies in Oregon and nationwide, such as initiatives focused on tobacco cessation, obesity prevention, health coverage enrollment assistance, and increasing the primary care and public health workforce, so that all Americans can lead longer, more productive lives.

Making prescription drugs affordable for seniors 

In Oregon, people with Medicare have saved nearly $101,228,724 on prescription drugs because of the Affordable Care Act.  In 2013 alone, 44,617 individuals in Oregon saved over $36,364,574, or an average of $815 per beneficiary.  In 2013, people with Medicare in the “donut hole” received a 52.5 percent discount on covered brand name drugs and a 21 percent discount on generic drugs. And thanks to the health care law, coverage for both brand name and generic drugs will continue to increase over time until the coverage gap is closed.  Nationally, over 7.9 million people with Medicare have saved over $9.9 billion on prescription drugs since the law’s enactment.

Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay

With no deductibles or co-pays, cost is no longer a barrier for seniors and people with disabilities who want to stay healthy by detecting and treating health problems early. In 2013 alone, an estimated 37.2 million people benefited from Medicare’s coverage of preventive services with no cost-sharing.  In Oregon, 460,704 individuals with Medicare used one or more free preventive service in 2013.

Protecting Medicare’s solvency

The health care law helps stop fraud with tougher screening procedures, stronger penalties, and new technology. Over the last five years, the administration’s fraud enforcement efforts have recovered $19.2 billion from fraudsters. For every dollar spent on health care-related fraud and abuse activities in the last three years the administration has returned $8.10.

We are always available to help you learn more about the medical plans that are available to you. With dozens of plans available, you are sure to find the plan that fits your budget and meets your needs. As a certified agent, we can help you enroll in a health plan and apply for financial assistance through Healthcare.gov. Give us a call anytime if you need assistance selecting a plan.

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Are you a small business with fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees, pay an average wage of less than $50,000 a year, and pay at least half of employee health insurance premiums? If so, there is a tax credit that may put money in your pocket. The tax credit is up to 50 percent of premiums paid for small business employers and up to 35 percent of premiums paid for small tax-exempt employers. Ask us how to start qualifying for this tax credit.

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