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You found the perfect vehicle from an online classified ad. You meet up with the guy, test-drive the car, and whip out your wallet to pay him cash. He hands you the keys and a bill of sale. “But where is the title?” you ask. He proceeds to tell you this long story of why he doesn’t have the title but promises to mail it to you once he gets the new title from the DMV or finds the old one. You take the bill of sale and give him the cash and drive away, believing the guy will be honest and send you the title. Why was this a bad idea?

First, the car could have been stolen, and they just stole hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars from you. Second, if you don’t have the title, you can’t register the car in your name. If your insurance agent is paying attention, you shouldn’t be able to list it on your policy, as most insurance companies in Oregon only cover cars that belong to you. After a loss or accident, you prove a vehicle belongs to you by providing proof that it is registered in your name. The company could deny the claim if you have put a car on your policy for which you have no evidence you own. And, unfortunately, there are plenty of agents out there willing and ready to insure a car that you can’t prove is yours.