Dear Sun Spots: I would like to know how car insurance companies can charge you on how good your credit is and not your driving record. So if I have good credit, I don’t drink and drive or speed, isn’t this discriminating some how? So if I have good credit, I’m better than someone with a good driving record? Shouldn’t that be against the law with all the other discriminating things about people? I would like to know how they can get away with this. They charge way too much as it is. There should be certain laws on insurance companies. – David LaRochelle, Lisbon.

Answer:
According to an article by Mal Leary of Capitol News Service in Augusta that was published in the Sun Journal June 23, 2003, a new law aimed at protecting Mainers from insurance companies that have been using credit ratings to determine coverage eligibility and premium rates on home or car insurance took effect in September.

However, the article noted that a consumer advocate felt the new law fell far short of protecting Mainers. J. Robert Hunter of the Consumer Federation of America said it did very little to protect consumers. He believed that only banning the use of credit rating scores would protect consumers from what Hunter described as a “sham” process. He said Maryland, Hawaii and California had banned the use of credit scores in determining eligibility or rates for at least one of the personal lines of insurance. The legislation was also endorsed by Maine Insurance Superintendent Al Iuppa who told panel insurers at the time he was restricting how credit scores are used through existing law, but insurers were using the ratings in new ways. The number of insurers using consumer credit information for rating has increased substantially over the last year or two.

Hunter said the fact the legislation is endorsed by the insurance industry should concern consumers. He said the real motivation of insurers using the credit scores is to target wealthy individuals for other products that can be packaged with the basic insurance policies they need.

Dear Sun Spots: Is there a school in southern Maine that offers a degree in either fashion merchandising or fashion design? – Sunshine Spaulding, Auburn.

Answer:
Unfortunately, no. However, the Maine College of Art does offer a self-designed major and students have graduated from the college in fashion merchandising and fashion design. For more information on how to go about self-designing a major, contact the college’s admission office at 1-800-639-4808. Other out-of-state colleges offering these degrees can be found online at http://www.online-degrees-director.com/fashion-design-degree.htm.

Dear Sun Spots: Can Sun Spots tell me how to get a cash reimbursement for the problems we incurred with Northwest Airlines? They may offer a voucher but this is the second time we have had problems with them and we doubt if we will go with them again. Also, where can I find information on the reliability of different airlines? – Sylvia Latulippe, No Town.

Answer:
Sun Spots would recommend you contact the airlines at Northwest Airlines Inc. B4950 – Passenger Refunds Dept., 5101 Northwest Drive, St. Paul, MN 55111-3034 to see what they can do to assist you. In the meantime, try clicking on http://travel.simplyquick.com/discount-airfares/airlines.html for information about reliability.

Dear Sun Spots: I recently responded to a letter in the Jan. 6 column. There is one bit of misinformation that states my daughter was injured in a car accident. I did not state this fact. I merely said she was injured in an accident. – Ralph Papasadora, Rumford.

Answer:
Sun Spots must apologize. She thought it read “car.”

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be posted at www.sunjournal.com in the Inform Us section under Press Release.


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