Reviewing your insurance needs, finding a new job, managing your medical care, and more.
By Janet Groene, F47166
December 2008 FMC magazine
Full-timing in a motorhome is unlike any other way of life. Even if you have a setback, such as leaving a job or breaking a campsite lease, your wheels can carry you to a better life. On the other hand, as John Donne said, “No man is an island.” Because you’re mobile, you also are probably the friend or family member who is expected to be the first one on the scene when a loved one needs help with a barn raising or a new baby.
Your joys, needs, privileges and duties are unique. Here are ways to solve specific full-timer problems.
Full-timers who don’t carry everything with them have to make decisions about how and where to store the things they leave behind. These may include ordinary goods such as furniture and dishes, pricier items (a coin collection, paintings, silver flatware), and priceless items such as stored data or the quilt that has been in the family since 1839. For the latter two you need the utmost in security, and that’s where vault storage comes in.
One of the most secure is now available near the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport in Florida, where a fully automated, hurricane-protected RobotVault employs biometric recognition techniques such as retinal scanning and heartbeat detection. Get details at www.robostorage.com.
If you choose to carry expensive items with you, know that they probably aren’t covered by ordinary motorhome policies. “One solution is to schedule [valuables] on what is known as a personal article floater,” explained insurance expert Marc Rovner of The Oberman Companies in White Plains, New York. “A schedule consists of compiling a list of the jewelry or other highly valued items and associating values with each individual item. For particularly highly valued items I often recommend pictures and professional valuations.” Rates per $100 in value are based on one’s zip code, Mr. Rovner said. Note that appraisals and photos should be kept somewhere for safekeeping, not stored in the motorhome.
Brian Taylor, a regional sales executive with InsWeb Corporation, recommends that you deal with an insurance agent who specializes in RVs and who also understands full-timing. “Be clear in revealing that you live on board,” he warned. “Not all carriers cover full-timing.” Keeping this type of information from your agent could void your coverage.
Mr. Taylor also recommends that full-timers obtain trip interruption coverage. It pays for a hotel or other place to stay if your coach becomes uninhabitable. “Check with your insurer before going to Canada or Mexico, too, to make sure you have the coverage you need,” he advised.
Speaking of insurance, don’t neglect other insurance products that can help keep you safe and solvent as long as possible. One is long-term-care insurance, which gets more expensive with every year of your age. Jump in now. It becomes nearly impossible to buy if you wait too long.
Go Back To Vo-Tech
Are you full-timing only as a temporary breather before seeking a new job? Are you retired now but looking for a zesty new full-time or part-time career? A fascinating Web site called Vocation Vacations (www.vocationvacations.com) lists experts who let others try careers ranging from alpaca ranching to campground management. These mentors are located throughout North America. Select one from the Web site, drive to wherever that business operates, and join in for a trial period (usually two or three days). It’s one way to “test-drive” your dream job and find out whether you’re cut out to be a blacksmith, golf pro, brew master, or fashion designer.
Back To School?
Tempted to upgrade your job skills via laptop computer while you travel? According to Online Degrees Today (www.online-degrees-today.com), the top five online studies are forensic accounting, master’s degrees in education or psychology, a general bachelor of arts degree, and paralegal studies.
According to Yahoo HotJobs, the most recession-proof jobs in 2008 were education, security, energy, health care, international business, and the environmental sector. The same jobs, excluding international business, also were recommended by www.careerbuilder.com. At AOL FindAJob, the recession-proof list includes biosciences, clean technology, federal government, health care, information technology, occupational therapy, pharmaceuticals, and sales and marketing.
Of course, the ultimate recession-proof life is to stay lean, mean, mobile, and willing to work harder than the next person.
As a full-timer, your living space is much more confined than other folks who live in stationary homes. That raises the issue of air quality inside the motorhome, particularly in a new motorhome that may retain the smell of the building materials used to construct the coach.
The use of formaldehyde in building materials for RVs and other products has been of interest recently. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has an informative and reassuring Web site about the subject that can be found at www.rvia.org/factsaboutformaldehyde. The Web site notes that although no federally mandated standard currently exists for RVs, RVIA has adopted the formaldehyde emission standards as required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for manufactured housing. In addition, starting January 1, 2009, RV makers that are members of RVIA will be required to build all units with wood products that comply with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) standard’s emission limits.
Air quality concerns can arise from many other compounds, not just inside RVs but indoors and outdoors every day. Homes, boats, cars, and commercial buildings are also sources of vapors that can be irritants to people. Only you can decide how much ventilation you need in a new motorhome or after installing new materials, especially carpeting, in an older motorhome.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), people who are getting new carpeting should ask the installer about possible hazards and also check labels of carpet and padding. Ask the retailer to unroll and air out the carpeting before installation and, if adhesives will be used, request low-emission adhesives. The CPSC also recommends allowing for good ventilation (fans, open overheads, and windows) and leaving for several hours after the installation. Call the CPSC’s hotline at (800) 638-2772 or visit www.cpsc.gov.
Visit www.allergyconsumerreview.com for all types of allergy information. You also can find an explanation of the difference between air cleaners and air purifiers, and advice about what type and size unit is right for you.
The Leisure Seeker
Think of The Leisure Seeker ($24.95, William Morrow), a new novel by Michael Zadoorian, as a sort of “Bucket List” for RVers. When it’s turned into a movie (plans are already under way) it will be On Golden Pond on wheels. The story follows an elderly couple, each with serious health issues, as they take their last RV trip. It’s a travelogue and a heartwarming human story that has special meaning to all older married couples who love travel. Please don’t reveal the ending. The official publication date is January 27, 2009, and it can be ordered at any bookstore.
Signing his e-mail only as Jules, a four-year full-timer who said he has “medical challenges” explained how he copes with the many different medical practitioners he sees along the way. He wrote: “I now carry two pages folded in my hip pocket listing all medical events (hospital stays, serious medical problems, etc.) with dates, doctor names, and phone numbers. The second page lists all current medications, dosage, and drug allergies.” Don’t forget to list vitamins and other nonprescription pharmaceuticals, he advised. At the top of each page insert your name and your current address and phone contact information, especially cell numbers.
Annie, a former full-timer, takes Jules’s idea one step further. “I write out everything, then make photocopies,” she noted. “Every time I check my husband into a doctor’s office, lab, clinic, or hospital, I give them one of these sheets instead of having to write out everything on the “new patient” form. I have copies in the car, in my purse, and in his medical file and, when it’s time to update, I just make 10 or 12 new copies.”
If you have this information on computer, you also can copy it to a flash drive. Some of these data storage drives are small and decorative enough to wear as a dog tag around the neck.
Full-Timer’s Forum Question Of The Month: How is the current economy affecting your full-timing life, and what are you doing about it? You can reply anonymously, if you like.
All readers are invited to contribute a question or comment to the Full-Timer’s Forum by mailing it to Family Motor Coaching, or sending it via e-mail to [email protected] (put “FMCA” in the subject line). Note that it may take two to four months before your comment appears.