Changing our domicile to Florida – Part One

Since June of 2013, when we became “full-time” RV’ers, we have been legal residents of South Dakota, which has a reputation as a very RV friendly state.  No state income taxes, low auto/RV insurance rates, and affordable health insurance were the main factors in our decision to join the “Great Faces, Great Places” state.  But for those of us who do not have employer sponsored health insurance, or are too young for Medicare, that is changing in 2015.  If we remained SD residents, we would not be able to have in-network nationwide coverage (except for emergencies).  For a more detailed assessment of the changes, you can read this article HERE.  The article is from the excellent healthcare website, dedicated to RV’ers, RVerHI.com.  South Dakota remains an excellent choice for those on Medicare, or for those who do not need to purchase their own health insurance.

The other two main RV friendly states are Texas and Florida.  We had no real preference, and decided to look into the costs for both.  I have decided to put this post in 2 sections, this first part will just cover mailing services and insurance companies  The second part will cover our actual process of changing to Florida.

PICKING A ZIP CODE/MAILING SERVICE

Currently, we use MyDakotaAddress.com as our mailing service in South Dakota.  We have been extremely pleased with the excellent service that Terri Lund and her staff provide.  If you are going to change residency to South Dakota, we would highly recommend them.

Texas has the very popular mail service provided by Escapee’s, of which we are members.  Escapee’s is now offering mail service in Florida.  We started looking into health insurance rates in Texas, based upon the zip code for the Escapee’s organization.  Rates for the two of us, on the healthcare exchange, were $273/month for the bronze plan with BCBS of Texas, offering an excellent nationwide plan.  (we had been paying $198.00/month in SD for a silver plan through Avera.  That plan was going to increase to $269.00/month, without nationwide coverage).

Once we started looking into Florida zip codes, we quickly realized Florida would be a better deal for us, so we eliminated Texas.  Another concern for us is that Texas also requires a vehicle inspection when renewing your tags.  Currently, you can request a waiver if you are not in the state at the time of renewal.  But as we have seen with SD, things can change.

Florida has four main mailing services that we are aware of:  Escapee’s, American Home Base, MyRVmail, and St. Brendan’s Isle.  We had no preference, and started checking health insurance rates based on the four different zip codes/counties.  Our best option was to become residents of Green Cove Springs, in Clay County, Florida, and use St. Brendan’s Isle as our mailing service.  We will be paying $11.99/month plus postage for their mailing service.  They were the most expensive of the four in terms of monthly costs, but that zip code provided us with the cheapest health insurance rates.  We have a bronze policy with Assurant for $198.00/month for the two of us, with a $6,000.00 deductible.  Preventive healthcare is covered at 100%, no deductibles, as required under the Affordable Care Act.  Since we are both healthy, we decided this was the best option for us.  If we had chronic conditions, then we would have gone with a silver policy, which has a higher monthly premium, but lower deductibles.  The policy has an option for a health savings account, which we were able to fully fund last year.

Again, this is just what works for us.  If you are considering changing your residency, take the time to check out all the zip codes/counties/states to decide what works best for your situation.  Another thing that we considered in our decision, is that our current doctors in Wisconsin are covered in-network by our Florida plan.  So we can keep our same doctors/clinics/hospitals.

I spent several hours going through all the websites of the mailing services, comparing monthly costs and fees, and then getting health insurance quotes on the exchange using all the different zip codes.  Not the best way to spend a day off, but the more time you spend doing your homework, the better prepared you will be to make such an important decision on where to “live”.

Auto/RV Insurance

South Dakota has very reasonable auto and RV insurance rates, so we were prepared to pay more for coverage in Florida.  It is important that you get proper insurance coverage, if you plan on living full-time in your RV.  Howard Payne of RV-Dreams.com has written several articles on their website regarding RV insurance coverage (click HERE)

We contacted American Adventure Insurance, Miller Insurance Agency, and Epic Insurance Company for quotes.  Given the wide variation in pricing that we received, it certainly pays to shop around.  Just make sure the quotes you receive contain the same information, so you are truly comparing apples to apples.

In South Dakota, we had coverage through Blue Sky Insurance, and we paid $639/year for our truck insurance, and $813.00/year for a full-timers policy on our 5th wheel. (total $1452).   In Florida, the best rates we received came from Epic Insurance, with coverage provided by Progressive.  Truck insurance $1064  and 5th wheel insurance $796 (total $1860).  We are paying $408/year more for the same coverage we had in South Dakota.   A bit of an “ouch”, but we have piece of mind knowing we have better health insurance coverage.

In my next post, I will go over the steps needed to complete changing our domicile.

Quote for the day:  “The more that you read, the more things that you know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss