Consumer Protections - Insurance - Estate

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A wise consumer is knowledgeable about products that are available and weighs the costs and benefits associated with them.  Knowing how fees are charged and when life risks warrant additional insurance protection are all important aspects of consumerism.

Auto Insurance:  The Commonwealth of Virginia requires that all vehicles must be insured and registered by law.  Auto insurance can protect you in the event that your vehicle is damaged, but it also can protect your assets in the event that you are at fault in an accident.

Renter’s Insurance: Your landlord has a policy that covers damage to the property, but your contents are not covered unless you have a renter’s insurance policy.  These policies are inexpensive but can save you from losing everything in an emergency. 

Health Insurance:  FAMIS is Virginia's program that helps families provide health insurance to their children. Health insurance is important to make sure that kids are able to get all the help they need to grow up healthy. FAMIS stands for Family Access to Medical Insurance Security.  To learn more visit the Department of Human Services or go online

Life Insurance: Life Insurance provides for burial costs and can pay off debt obligations or replace income lost if you should pass before retirement.  There are free insurance calculators like those at to help you estimate your insurance needs.  

Security Freeze:  A security freeze is used when you need to block all access to your credit report. It is a final protection used during ongoing identity theft cases.  A nominal cost is charged for this service, and a PIN is required to establish any new credit.  Learn more: 

Do Not Call List: Do Not Call removes your phone number from solicitation lists.  Telemarketers may not call your number if you have listed your number at this website.  Registration must be updated every five years. 

Opt Out Prescreen List:  Opt Out Prescreen removes your address for receiving solicitations from credit card companies.  Registration must be updated every five years unless you permanently opt out in writing.

Direct Marketing Association's DMA Choice:  DMA Choice program allows you to opt our of unsolicited marketing.  You can remove yourselve from magazine, catalog and other marketing lists.  

Chexsystems Report:  The ChexSystems, Inc. network is comprised of member Financial Institutions that regularly contribute information on mishandled checking and savings accounts to a central location. You are entitled to a free copy of your ChexSystems report, at your request, once every 12 months.

Wills: Wills are not just for the rich. No matter how much or how little money you have, a will ensures that whatever you have or will have goes to family or beneficiaries you designate. Without a will, the court makes these decisions.   If you have children, a will is essential to ensure that you get to choose your children's guardian. Few people plan to die in the near future; but if you die suddenly without a will, you'll be subjecting your family and loved ones to confusion and anxiety at what is already a difficult time.  A free template for a will can be found at  Note: your Will should be notarized by two witnesses.  See your financial institution for a notary and witnesses for your Will.

Advanced Medical Directive: Also known as a living will or medical power of attorney.  An advanced medical directive allows you to state what you want for your own medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. You can: direct that a specific procedure or treatment be provided/withheld and appoint a person to act as your agent making decisions for you. Get a free Advanced Medical Directive from Virginia State Bar Association.

Financial Power of Attorney: Also known as a Durable Power of Attorney, allows one person to act on your behalf for all financial powers legal under law. This document remains valid if you should become incapacitated or not mentally able to think for yourself. A free template for a power of attorney can be found at

General Power of Attorney: A general power of attorney is used to allow someone you designate to handle all of your affairs during a period of time when you are unable to do so.

Laws that Protect:
Car Buying Lemon Law:  In Virginia, a “lemon” is defined as a new vehicle that has been returned to the dealer for servicing the same problem, mechanical or cosmetic, three times in 18 months or twice for a safety related issue. Under this law, you may return the vehicle for full reimbursement. 

“Cooling Off” Laws in Virginia: There is no “cooling off” period for contracts signed at the place of business, however there are provisions for contracts signed in your home, and for campground membership, timeshares and gym memberships. 

Other Resources:
FTC "Taking Charge: detailed steps on correcting errors on reports and reporting identity theft.

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