Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000
During the past three years, I have presented a seminar about FMCA member benefits at the international conventions and area rallies I’ve attended. I believe it is important for all of the membership to become familiar with the benefits of this great association. I don’t go into great detail on each and every benefit during the seminar; however, I do provide enough information about each topic so that those who would like to learn more can research that specific benefit easily in the January issue of FMC magazine, which contains the “Member Benefits Guide.” In the January 2003 issue, the guide begins on page 180.
I also provide all seminar attendees with an outline of FMCA’s member benefits that has page references to the January issue of FMC. Although I cannot cover the entire seminar in this article, I would like to highlight some benefits in this column.
FMCA member benefits are divided into seven categories in the “Member Benefits Guide,” so I will follow the same format, covering Information Exchange; FMCA Travel Services; Discounts; FMCA Activities; Insurance; Financial Services; and Additional Benefits in this and subsequent columns.
Under Information Exchange, the first and most popular member benefit is Family Motor Coaching magazine. This publication began in 1964 and always has been printed in a magazine format. It is not the outgrowth of a newsletter. The founders of FMCA saw the need for this level of communication and information early in the association’s history. Family Motor Coaching is published monthly, and a subscription to the magazine is included in the cost of FMCA membership. Individuals who do not yet own a motorhome “” which would make them eligible for membership in FMCA “” may subscribe to the magazine for $27 for one year, $50 for two years, and $68 for three years. Obviously, if someone subscribes to the magazine to gather information about the motorhome lifestyle and then ends up purchasing a qualifying coach, it makes sense for that person to convert the subscription to a membership.
Next under the Information Exchange heading is the annual membership directory, published in each January issue of FMC. This directory contains the aforementioned “Member Benefits Guide,” plus the “Business Directory,” and the “Membership Directory.”
The “Business Directory” is a listing of all FMCA commercial members, arranged according to the products or services they offer, and information regarding how to contact them. The “Business Directory” is published in FMC twice each year: in January as part of the membership directory issue and in the June issue. FMCA commercial members are listed in these categories: Campgrounds; Custom Coach Converters; Motor Coach Manufacturers; Motor Coach Dealers; RV Repair Service, Major and Minor; and Services, Coach Components, and Accessories. This directory is a convenient compilation of RVer-friendly businesses that members will want to refer to often. And be sure to let these businesses know where you learned about them.
The annual “Membership Directory” contains sections devoted to FMCA chapters; family members organized both by membership number and by last name; and Stoppin’ Spots (which I will cover in a later column). It also offers important once-a-year information, such as the “Directory of Sanitary Disposals,” the “Technical Articles Index,” and a motorhome checklist.
Quite often, we are asked why we don’t separate the January magazine portion from the membership directory, so that the directory can be used separately. Historically, members have carried the January issue with them throughout the entire year; so, many companies find it attractive to place ads in this edition, when normally, because it is a winter month, they might not be doing as much advertising. This additional revenue helps FMCA to offset some of the costs of producing this directory.
Another benefit that’s available to all members enables them to participate in important RV-related education programs. The association contributes toward the expense of these learning opportunities to reduce out-of-pocket costs to members. The FMCA Education Curriculum provides three RV-related courses: the RV Safe Driving Course; the Coach Weight and Tire Safety program; and the Fire and Life Safety program. These programs are available at the association’s international conventions and also are offered at many FMCA area rallies. FMCA members should be sure to avail themselves of the vital information presented in these three programs.
A growing part of the Information Exchange benefit is FMCA’s Web site, www.fmca.com. This site offers useful online information about member benefits; upcoming conventions and rallies; FMC magazine; FMCA chapters; and links to commercial members. Many “members-only” links can be accessed through the use of your FMCA membership number and membership expiration date. Additional information continues to be added to the Web site, making it a major resource for FMCA members. In fact, the “Member Benefits Guide,” the “Business Directory,” and the “Membership Directory” discussed above are all accessible at www.fmca.com.
The next category of member benefits is FMCA Travel Services. The Traveler’s Message Service originally started as an emergency phone message service, with live operators taking emergency messages for members and then relaying that information when the member checked in. Messages were stored on index cards kept in a recipe-type file box. From those humble beginnings, it has grown into a one-of-a-kind, sophisticated voice-mail service that permits members to open and close their mailboxes at will with no advance sign-up or obligation. For $5 per calendar month, members may have 31 messages per month left for them, and they can check in for messages 31 times a month. Ten additional messages or check-ins may be purchased for $10; these carry over from month to month until all 10 are used. More information regarding the Traveler’s Message Service can be found in the January 2003 issue of FMC beginning on page 198.
FMCA’s Mail Forwarding Service also began small and has expanded over time. Today the service forwards mail to more than 3,500 families who are away from home for an extended period of time. Members contact the Mail Forwarding Department and let the staff know where to send their mail next (a member’s address can be changed weekly, if necessary). Their mail is collected at FMCA’a facility on Round Bottom Road in Cincinnati, and then packaged and mailed to members on a weekly basis via first-class mail. The only cost to the member is that of postage. Participants must make an initial deposit of $50 in their account. When the balance reaches $15, a charge to their credit card is generated in order to bring the deposited funds back up to $50. More information regarding this service can be found in the January 2003 issue of FMC beginning on page 202. To use this service, call the Mail Forwarding Department at (800) 448-1212.
Free trip routing to locations in the United States, Canada, and Mexico is available from Rand McNally at no cost to FMCA members. The trip routing service provides detailed directions customized to your trip as well as usually two or more maps of the city and state that will be visited. This service is not available over the phone; members must send their request to Rand McNally in writing by mail or fax using the form provided each month in the magazine (page 180 of this issue). Forms also are available at www.fmca.com and will be sent to members upon request by calling the Membership Services Department at the national office in Cincinnati (800-543-3622).
FMCA has partnered with Coach-Net to provide the Emergency Road Service and Technical Referral Plan for members located in the United States and Canada. The introductory cost for this service is $79.50 for one year or $238.50 for three years. Renewals are $99.50 for one year or a discounted rate of $273.50 for three years. Please see page 172 of this magazine for an advertisement that explains this service.
The MEDEX Plus emergency medical assistance program, first purchased for FMCA family members in January 2001, helps traveling members to effectively manage the complexities and expenses of out-of-area medical and travel emergencies. MEDEX Plus provides members with toll-free access to travel assistance services and also coordinates and pays the approved costs associated with a number of these services. These include emergency medical air and ground evacuation; repatriation of remains; the return home of unattended grandchildren and dependent children; the return home of an RV or automobile; transportation to join a hospitalized member (for member traveling alone — if member is hospitalized for seven days or more); and a member’s transportation home after his or her initial evacuation.
Travel can be for business or pleasure at a distance of 100 or more miles from your primary residence. Coverage is provided while traveling within the continental United States, Canada, or Mexico, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. MEDEX must approve and coordinate all services.
Page 195 of the January 2003 issue of Family Motor Coaching contains a compilation of information from two of my previous columns about MEDEX. If the term MEDEX is not familiar to you as a member of FMCA, please take time to read that article. If you do not have that issue handy, call the Membership Services Department at the national office and ask for a MEDEX brochure. This benefit is very important to you. Please remember that MEDEX must approve and coordinate all services. Again, FMCA has purchased this benefit for its family members, and it is included in your annual membership dues. No other purchase is required on your part.
These are just a few of your member benefits. I will discuss other benefits in future columns. As a side note, whenever calling the national office, please have your membership number handy.