Sunday, June 28, 2015

Motorhome Insurance Issues


Wesley Chapel, Florida (high hot and sticky, low almost as hot and equally sticky)


It’s too hot to do anything fun so we’ve been binge watching old TV series. We just finished Homeland and are going to start The Americans next. 

We had hoped to leave for Blairsville on July 8th, but Al has an emergency dental issue so it looks like we’ll be delayed another week.  It’s too bad because a cold front has moved in  up there, and the high tomorrow is supposed to be 78 with a low of 52.  Perfect!


Ok.  On to the insurance issues.

We have our cars insured with USAA and would prefer to have the motorhome insured with them as well since I know from personal experience how great they are when you have a claim.

Unfortunately, USAA doesn't offer insurance for RV’s or full-timers, so we went with National Interstate when we bought the coach.

The first two years we had no rate increases, but last year it went up about $200.  I called and was told it was due to a rate increase.  I didn’t go any further and just let it go.

This year when we got our renewal it was going up another $200. This time I decided I had better do some research and see if I could do any better.

Since I used to be an Insurance Adjuster, price is not the most important thing to me. I would rather have a company that has a great record in handling claims, than an insurance company that is cheap, but after two rate increases in two years, I decided enough is enough.

I called  Gilbert Insurance Agency who was the agency that handled our insurance for our old motorhome.  When we bought the coach from Lazy Days, I got a quote from their insurance department (yes, Lazy Days has their own insurance department) and saved quite a bit of money so we went with the Lazy Days Insurance Agency.

When we first bought our coach, we had “Agreed Value” on the policy.  This means that whatever value you agree on  at the time, is the value you get should you have a total loss.   The problem with that is that once your coach is so many years old (eight I think), they will no longer continue to insure it for the agreed value and it reverts back to ACV or actual cash value.

I noticed the additional premium for the agreed value coverage had dropped off last year, so I assumed all was well.

As it turns out, they had dropped the additional premium but still had the “rating basis” showing the higher amount that the coach was valued at when we bought it.

Like any vehicle, they drop in value each year and after 4 years it’s significantly less than when we bought it.  In the event of a total loss,we would only get the ACV (actual cash value) on the coach.

If you don’t have a new, or newer coach and have the Agreed Value coverage, you should check the first page of your Declaration Page to see if you have anything stating “rating basis” with a dollar amount.  Just because it says one amount, it does not mean you would get that amount if you had a total loss.  You would get ACV.

Since they dropped the coverage and the extra premium but neglected to change the rating basis, so we were actually still paying several hundred dollar more each year.

Once they changed the rating basis, our premium dropped $522 annually!

I got a few other quotes, one of which was from Progressive and they were higher than National Interstate even with the lower ACV value.

After a little research the agent at Lazy Days found coverage for us with Blue Sky for $765 less than what the renewal with National Interstate was going to be.  She insured me it was an A+ company.    I decided to increase our liability and UM limits and still saved a significant amount of money.

The only thing I don’t like about Blue Sky is that the maximum you can get for personal contents coverage is $15,000.   I would prefer that amount to be higher, but truthfully with the limited coverage you would get for contents coverage, you probably won’t need it anyway, unless you have a catastrophic loss like a fire. 

When you own a home and have your contents insured, the coverage is for covered losses anywhere in the world.  When you have contents coverage for a motorhome, the coverage is for the contents inside or attached to the motorhome, or in some cases within a few feet from the motorhome.

If you have expensive bikes and have them on the back of your car and they are stolen. No coverage from the RV policy and no coverage from the auto policy.  If you have an accident in your car which is your fault, no coverage on the auto policy because the bikes are not a part of the vehicle. The bicycle rack MIGHT be covered.

If it’s someone else’s fault, their property damage liability insurance would cover the bikes, provided they have high enough limits.   Just a heads up because I think many people are misinformed on how their contents in the motorhome are covered under their insurance.  As full-timers, we have a LOT of stuff inside our rigs.

If you still have a home somewhere, then your contents coverage would come from your homeowners insurance, and you should be fine, providing you have high enough limits.

If you have a home (like us) that you rent out, then you have what is called a “fire policy” on the home.  Your personal property is not covered, except for a small amount you have for appliances and the like inside the rental house.  The renters property is not covered either and if they are smart, they should have a renters policy, which is very inexpensive.

So, I would recommend you review your Rv policy and make you adequately insure yourselves.  I’ve seen too many cases where people had some sort of catastrophic loss and no insurance, or not enough insurance.   I’ll never forget the guy I spoke to once who’s house was flooded half way up the walls.  He neglected to buy flood insurance because “he wasn’t in a flood zone.”  The only thing he had left was the one car that had comprehensive coverage.  The other car had no comp coverage so wasn’t insured for the flood.  I felt very sorry for him.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Few Motorhome Repairs


Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 92, low 72)

We have been hanging out, visiting Mom, and working around the coach on things we have been neglecting.

It’s hot every day from morning until evening so we haven’t been inclined to do anything outdoors.  If it’s not storming, we manage to sit outside on the patio in the evenings for a few hours, but usually we need to run a fan due to the heat and humidity. 

The otters have been entertaining us and last week we saw a mother deer with two new born fawns.  They chased each other around for a while, but I didn’t have my camera with me so I didn’t get any pictures. 

This morning the otters were again chasing around on the bank.  I think they were getting ready to mate. 


The larger one was digging in the dirt and acting kind of strange. 



We never did see any mating, and soon they got back into the water and frolicked some more.



Some people walked up with their dog and the otters were checking them out. 



We have been working on small repairs on the motorhome.  Small things have a way of adding up, and they never end up being easy, do they?

We have been lucky until recently and never had a string break on a day\night shade.  Our luck ran out and a string broke on our small bedroom shade.  I guess I’ll finally have to learn how to restring these things. 

As I posted earlier, we had another problem with our Thetford Aria toilet.   We thought the foot pedal broke again after just replacing that same mechanism not two months ago.  It’s extremely frustrating.

On top of that our favorite, and only mobile Rv tech moved to North Carolina, so we were forced to find someone else.

With some recommendations from campground neighbors, we chose The Toy Doctor.  It’s a man and his son in law working together. They both seemed to be good and the older man had a lot of experience working on airplanes, boats and RV’s. 

Mobile RV Service Dade City   Zephyrhills  FL   Florida     Toy Doctor

Using a mobile Rv tech, you never know who you’re getting.  Is it someone who just went through 2 weeks of Rv maintenance school and thinks he is a qualified Rv tech. We were happy with their work and will use them again.

They removed the toilet and discovered a new problem.  The cable that operates the flushing mechanism broke.  That was about the only part we didn’t have on hand.  We thought we had  any and all parts we may need, after our last fiasco in the Keys, but apparently there are still a few additional parts that we didn’t have.

Fortunately, they had a replacement cable but it was a tad longer than our old one, but they made it work.  We had them replace the blade mechanism also while they were there, so for all intents and purposes, we have a brand new toilet.  (hopefully)

One problem we discovered last time was that the main mechanism was not installed correctly from the factory.  They corrected that issue, so hopefully we won’t be having this problem again.  The foot pedal seems to be a lot smoother now, so hopefully we’re done with toilet repairs for a long time.


On the way home from the Keys last month, we noticed the blower on our dash a/c was only working on high.  We figured it was only a matter of time until high speed quit working, so we decided we’d better try and fix it.  Apparently, this is quite a common problem.

Al removed the blower switch which was located behind the controls on the front dash.  It was a Ford part so he took it to the Ford dealer, who told him it could only be two things.  It was either the fan switch or the resistor. 

We were happy to have found the exact part we needed, and it was relatively inexpensive.  Unfortunately, it turned out not to be the fan that was causing the problem.  We really didn’t expect it to be that easy.  :)

Al was able to locate and remove the resistor which is in the outside front generator compartment near the firewall on the passenger side.  Ford had no comparable part and recommended we go to NAPA.  They had a similar part, except the little connector plugs were a little smaller than the one we had.  He felt they would grab on when we plugged it in and would work.  The part was about $25 and not returnable, but we took a chance and bought it. 

It worked!  Yay……we again have a three speed blower.  In the process of getting this done, we got some feedback from the Monaco owners group and they gave us some places to go find the part, should it ever go out again. 

Merikay and Craig posted an interesting blog about their problems with a dirty radiator and engine overheating.   You can read about it HERE.  If you have never cleaned your radiator, you might want to read their story.  I think we’ll have it done by a professional at Cummins when we get our oil changed.  A lot of people do it themselves with a special Simple Green cleaner, but I think given the importance of this part, we’ll go the professional route.  We’re hoping since our engine has easy rear access it won’t cost as much as theirs!



Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Otter Mating Season?


Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 92, low 72)


We’re trying to decide when we can leave this miserable hot weather in Florida and head back to the cooler mountains of north  Georgia.  We don’t want to travel during the 4th of July week-end, so maybe afterwards.   Since it’s 21 degrees warmer here than it is in our other “home” in Blairsville, we are certainly anxious!


While we were in the Keys, we were lucky enough to personally witness some Loggerhead Sea Turtles mating.  There were two males mating with one poor female who was almost drowned in the process.  It was a violent act and disturbing at times.

In case you missed the blog post, you can see more pictures and read about it HERE




A few days later, we were back out in the boat and came across dolphin mating.   Just like the turtles, there were more than two individuals involved.

We weren’t able to get quite as close as we did with the turtles, but it was another spectacular sight.

You can see more pictures or read about it HERE


Dolphin Mating near Venture Out channel, swimming on his back


The otters that live, fish, and play in the pond behind us were out and about early this morning.  Before today, we have only seen two of them this year.  Last year there were four and perhaps they were the offspring.

This morning our friend Heidi said she saw four of them, but then one ran two off, by “barking” and chasing them into the woods.

Have you ever heard an otter bark?   I hadn’t either.  Later when he was by himself, I heard a chirping type noise that sounded more like a bird than an otter.  When he was after the other otter, I heard a definite barking sound.

Unfortunately, we got outside too late to see all four, but we did see two in the water splashing around with one chasing the other.   I feel certain it was another mating we were seeing.  Fortunately, this time there were only two involved and not the “gang bang” we saw with the dolphin and turtles.  :)



My photos weren’t great because they were moving so fast.

There was a lot of chasing, both in and out of the water.


In this next picture I see something that is either a foot or another otter? 


Here is a cropped photo.  I think it’s just a foot, but if it was the female my theory of what they were doing would be proved correct.


It was fun watching them and listening to them bark.






It’s too hot to sit outside except in the mornings and evenings, but we’re out every day after 5ish with our heavy duty fan, our books, and a cocktail or two.

I am reading the book Wild,  From lost to found on the Pacific Coast Trail”  

It’s a true story about a young woman who had some tragedy in her life which led to drug addiction and eventually to hike the PCT in attempt to get her life back on track.

A few days ago we rented the movie from a Redbox and enjoyed it so much that we decided to read the book. I”m enjoying the book just as much as the movie, and can highly recommend it.  I got it on Amazon e-books for only $6.99.    The author is Cheryl Strayed.


the end


Friday, June 05, 2015

An Answer to an Age Old Question


Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 92, low 76)


It’s still hot and humid and we’re still dreaming of heading to Blairsville to the temps that are consistently 15-18 degrees cooler.


We haven’t done much exciting, but the otters behind the motorhome have been quite entertaining.


The age old question is:

Does a bear  $hi% in the woods?


If there was another age old question regarding otters, I  never knew it existed until I was watching them, camera in hand and something interesting happened.

We’ve seen both otters come out on the bank every so often for a few minutes but I haven’t had my camera with me until today.

Today, I was watching them play in the water and apparently they were successful catching their breakfast.

The picture is a bit out of focus, but I think he has a fish.

otter with fish


Otter with fish


They have a pretty good set of teeth on them, don’t they?


As I watched, a Little Blue Heron and a juvenile Ibis were wandering around.



Little Blue Heron


I was patiently waiting for the otters to show themselves more and finally one approached the bank and started to walk out of the water.


He got out and appeared to be sniffing something.



He must have found the spot he was looking for because soon he was in the squatting position and going about his business.


I apologize if this is too much information for some of you, but I thought it was kind of interesting when I realized they apparently choose the same area for their “dumping grounds”.

How nice is it that they go to the woodsy side of the water and not to the RV side?

I’ve seen them in that same spot several times and they appeared to be frolicking around.

Apparently not.   Notice all those reddish brown spots?



Once he finished his business, he went back to the water in search of more food.


Anyway, the answer to the age old question on whether otters $hi# in the water…is  NO. They do not.  :)

They come out of the water, and use the same spot day after day.   So now you know.


This is our view from the back of the motorhome.  You can see it’s just a small drainage area but we’ve sure seen a lot of wild life there.


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Oh No, Not Again

Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 85, low 68)

The summer rainy season has started and we're getting our afternoon showers, which often bring strong storms with a lot of thunder and lightning.  We are very anxious to get back up to the mountains.  It's stifling hot and humid here.

When we go to the Keys, we have no mobile RV repair person that we know and trust, so we always try to do repair or replace anything we think may go wrong, before we go to the Keys.

If you remember from my previous blog posts, our preventative maintenance didn't work well this year, when our our almost new RV toilet broke while we were in the Keys.   Of course we didn't have spare parts (we do now) and had a bit of a dilemma trying to repair it ourselves.

Our Thetford Aria Classic toilet is porcelain including the bowl and the base, but unfortunately, the foot pedal mechanism is plastic and poorly designed.

Well, guess what?   Not two months after we repaired the toilet, the foot mechanism broke again!   Grrrrrrrr.  That toilet was only a year old when it first broke.

We called Tim Stratton our favorite local mobile Rv guy, has relocated to North Carolina, so now we have to find another repair guy.   Grrrrr

We found another local mobile guy and have an appointment for the repair.  He's a bit young, so I hope he has enough experience to be able to handle all the potential things that can go wrong in an RV.   The bolts on the closet flange on our RV are lined up at an angle. They don't move, because the closet flange is all one piece and all a part of the holding tank.  When we tried to install another toilet, the bolts didn't line up correctly and we were unable to install it.  Just as an FYI, apparently this is quite common and there is a part you can install to make it work.   We just found that out and I don't know what it's called.

We have to decide whether to replace or repair the toilet.  He said all Rv toilets are made pretty much the same way and they all use cheap plastic parts.   We think our Aria toilet wasn't put together properly from the factory and one part isn't centered like it should be.   We were afraid to take it all apart and try to center it correctly when we were in the Keys because if we messed up, we would have been without a toilet.   Maybe our new Rv guy can do something with it because we feel that is the cause of the foot pedal breaking.   We will have to see how it turns out.  Sorry for so much toilet info, but I like to document things because for sure we won't remember in a year or two.  :)

I went to the doctor earlier this week because I've felt some pressure (if that's the correct way to describe it)  in my chest.  It felt more like a lung issue than a heart issue and since I used to be a smoker (30+ years ago) and I did a few Google searches of my symptoms,  I felt it might be a good idea to get it checked out.  They did a breathing test which I passed with flying colors, an EKG, just as a precaution  and a chest x-ray and everything appeared fine.  I felt pretty good afterwards after passing those tests.  I decided to wait and see if I start to get better before I followed up with the doctor.  We both had a pretty good respiratory bug a few months ago, so maybe it's still there a little.  I wondered if I had pneumonia. I guess the tests ruled that out.

A few days later, we met a neighbor who just lost her husband a few weeks ago.  They had just sold their house in Tampa, and were planning on spending the summer in Maine.  He felt ill, and went to the doctor.  They did a chest x-ray among other things and said he was fine.  A few days later he ended up in the ER where they did an MRI and discovered he had lung cancer and his lungs were completely eaten up with cancer.  Eighteen days later he was dead.  That just goes to prove how short and unfair life can be.  I felt  so sorry for this poor woman and her husband.  

Of course, when she told me the x-ray of his chest didn't show his lung cancer, my good results from my medical tests don't make me feel as secure as they did before I heard about him.

The breathing issues I was having seem to be better, but if they don't clear up, I will go back to the doctor.  I'm just wondering if some of the respiratory bug I had had started to surface again. I've been taking my echinacea and will definitely keep an eye on things, and although I am not  big on seeing a doctor, I will follow up if I need to.

Al is getting his annual physical today.   He also had an appointment with the surgeon as a follow up on his rotator cuff surgery.  His surgeon is the doctor for the Tampa Bay Lightning (hockey team) and they will be playing in the Stanley Cup finals starting today. He got a call from the doctors office canceling his appointment and all others this week.  I guess the hockey team has a higher priority than Al.  :)

I heard that Live Writer has partially fixed their program but the pictures still won't load.  Since my last experience posting via Blogger worked out so well, I decided to try again.

I am posting some pictures from last summer in the mountains, just to test blogger again.

BTW, does anyone know where in Blogger can you tell how many words you are posting/writing?
The word count showed up in Live Writer, but I can't find it in Blogger.

I am posting these in the large size.  I usually use medium because if I remembered right, the large were too large for my blog pages.  It looks okay, we'll see, I guess.

I think I just may stick with doing my blog posts in Blogger.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Pondering Blogging Without Live Writer, and Wildlife Pics

Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 90, low 70)

We’ve been taking care of business since we got back from the Keys.  We miss the Keys, but right now we’re dreaming of the north Georgia mountains.  They have been having wonderfully cool weather, compared to the 90’s and stifling humidity that we’re dealing with here in the Tampa area.

We haven't done anything fun or blog worthy since we got back, but we have had some nice visitors in our back yard.

Al found this little gopher tortoise walking down the street in the campground on the hot asphalt. Gopher tortoises dig holes in the sand/dirt and make their homes there.  They do not live in the water and they don't live in parking lots.

We worried about him walking on the hot pavement.   That is not the usual tortoise habitat and since they are cold blooded, we worried that he could get overheated, not to mention get run over.

We debated where to put him because they usually are heading somewhere and we didn't want to disrupt his pattern.  We put him down in our friends site and he headed right over to some plants and crawled under them.  We think he was happy to be out of the baking sun.

He spent the night in the same place, and our friend saw him early the next morning walking back down the street.   I had considered taking him to the State Park or possibly calling a wildlife sanctuary to see what they thought.  They are a protected species, so we would have had to make sure we didn't break any laws.  I just didn't think a busy campground  was a good place for him.

A campground with paved roads is not exactly tortoise habitat.  It may have been at one time, but now it's people habitat and there are huge zero turn mowers running around all the time, as well as cars and rv's.  

Be safe little tortoise.  I hope you found a better place to live.   Notice the front feet?  You can see how adapted he is for digging burrows.

We've never seen one quite this small.

We have been seeing the otters again.  Last year there were four of them, and we think two were offspring.

This year, we only see two, so maybe some babies will be coming.

They were very cooperative and posed nicely for me.

They sure kept their eyes on me.

There has been a lot of talk in Blog land since the changes with Blogger have caused us to not be able to use Live Writer to write and post our blogs.  Sure, you can post directly from Blogger and it's do-able, but pictures take too long to load, and it's not anywhere as nice a program as Live Writer.

But since the Google gods are going to do what they want to do and since we may or may not be able to use Live Writer, I guess I will have to deal with posting blogs via Blogger.  This will be my first one in years, so I guess we'll see how it turns out.

It's been said that blogging is no longer in fashion and many people have migrated over to other social media options like Twitter, Facebook, and Google +.   I guess Google is encouraging us to quit blogging and use Google +.

I have explored Google + some but I don't find it suits my needs as well as blogging.  I started blogging to keep a picture diary of our RVing life and the places we go and the things we've done.

Before blogger, I actually typed journals on my computer and inserted pictures into those journals.  It worked just fine until I discovered Blogger and a better way to do the same thing.  Once I started blogging, it wasn't long before I got my first follower.  I found other bloggers via blogging and have made many new blogging friends.  I've learned a lot from other Bloggers and I for one will miss it if it goes away.

After thinking about what Rick said about Blogger's "time to shine is over",  I considered other options because I do see some value in Facebook and maybe if I explored Google + a little more, I could make it work for me.  I quickly realized that there are no other options, at least that I know of right now, that will give me the things that Blogger does.

I use Blogger to document our life.  I like the fact that others read my blog and comment.  I like the fact that I have other blogger friends, but even if no one reads my blog, I will continue to post it for our own use.   I like the fact that I can go back to previous times.  I like looking at my pictures and remembering fun times.  I like being able to refer back to things if I can't remember something.  I like going back and seeing what the weather was like at a certain time of year.  I like being able to refer back to when we did a repair and who we used.  I have a separate blog for our RV lots in Georgia and the Keys.  I use it to help me rent them out.  Facebook steers people there and Blogger gives them more information and pictures.

So Google, you can do whatever you wish with Blogger, but I'm going to continue to journal our life, with or without you.   Maybe I need to back-up my blog though.   :)

I just saved and did a preview of this blog post.  It seems to have turned out just fine, so other than it taking much too long to post pictures, maybe it won't be so bad.  They have made some progress because it's easier to resize pictures now and you don't have re-size each photo.   The paragraphs are staying separated when before they all seemed to run together.   Maybe it won't be so bad after all.