DEAR SUN SPOTS: My auto insurance premiums just doubled although my driving record is impeccable. I have never had a claim and my payment record has been perfect. The only change in my life is that I turned 80 years old in May. What can I do?

—No name, no town

ANSWER: After we become a certain age, our auto insurance rates do creep up, but they shouldn’t double. If you haven’t already, the first thing you should do is have a sit-down with your insurance agent and review your policy from stem to stern to assure that it has everything you need and to delete any coverage you don’t need.

Be sure to review the number of miles you drive in a year. Again, if you haven’t already, you can change your driving status from that of a “work commuter” to that of someone who drives for “leisure/pleasure.”

If you aren’t satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, then it’s time to shop around for a new insurance company.

Some insurance companies actually offer discounts to seniors and also reduce your premiums if you have taken part in a recent safe driving course. These classes can even be taken on-line.

Unfortunately, auto insurance coverage for senior citizens is more expensive than it is for the general population. This is because, for better or worse, older drivers are known to be a higher-risk group. On average, seniors get into more auto accidents than other drivers do. As people age, vision, cognitive abilities, and reflexes tend to change, making seniors somewhat riskier drivers to insure. Older drivers might more easily miss road signs and have slower reaction times. Plus, older drivers tend to be more physically fragile. Even a small accident can have significant effects on their health. Older drivers are also more likely to use medications that may affect their driving abilities.

Due to these factors, seniors’ accident involvement rates begin to rise at age 70 and jump significantly at 80. While seniors aged 75 and up do rank among the more potentially dangerous drivers on the road, there are numerous ways for senior drivers to save.

By taking advantage of your wealth of driving experience, owning a vehicle with modern safety features, taking a senior driving course, and limiting driving mileage, you, as an older driver can find ways to save on car insurance.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Picture it: I’m driving down a one-lane road which divides into a two lane road. A sign says, “Slow Traffic Stay in Right Lane.” I’m going the speed limit of 40 mph. If other drivers are speeding, must I, by law, move to the right lane?

—Mary, no town

ANSWER: This is my understanding of the state “keep right” laws. All states allow drivers to use the left lane (when there is more than one in the same direction) to pass. Most states restrict use of the left lane by slower moving traffic “that is not passing.”

If I were you, I would move on over to the right. It’s safer for you and one of these days, one of Maine’s finest will catch up with that speeder.

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). Please include your phone number. 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 emailed to [email protected]

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