To ensure that providers’ financial affairs were up to snuff, we looked at independent evaluations from insurance rating and credit rating agencies A.M. Best, S&P Global, Moody’s, and J.D. Power. While each agency has its own rating scale, we required companies to have A or “above average” ratings from all four — solid indications that companies are in great financial health. Acquiring ratings from all four agencies also indicates that companies care enough about their business’ reputation to apply for these voluntary review processes. For an industry that’s centered around the principle of being there when you need help most, we found this focus on transparency to be the mark of a good provider. Smaller companies like Good Sam or National Interstate may provide seemingly better discounts, but they tend to only submit themselves for review to one or two agencies.
For our top picks, we preferred online claim reporting capabilities (including mobile app options) for customer convenience, but we also wanted companies to offer easy access to real human support. Whether you want to have another person on the line throughout the whole process or prefer to keep things digital, a good insurance company offers you plenty of options for claims.
It's important to be vigilant in looking for red flags when shopping for health insurance online. Even companies with legitimate-looking websites can be fraudulent. For instance, a Florida-based private health insurance company was shut down in fall 2018 for selling worthless plans to consumers and collecting more than $100 million in profits, according to the Federal Trade Commission. People paid as much as $500 per month for what was just a medical discount program, not insurance. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud says con artists are exploiting general confusion over healthcare reform, so here are some of its tips to avoid getting ripped off.
If you decide to opt out instead of acquiring compliant health insurance, you do have a few options. These options probably won't qualify to relieve you of having to pay the shared responsibility payment, but they can still lower your health care costs. Many insurance companies offer short-term insurance plans that might help you between coverage periods or after losing insurance. Catastrophic insurance usually has a high deductible, but can help if you need expensive treatment. Another option is Direct Primary Care (DPC) or "concierge medicine." These are not standard insurance models but involve a direct payment to the provider as an annual fee or retainer for services. This type of arrangement is not common, but it's an option for some. Boutique offices are becoming increasingly popular as well. These medical practices do not bother with insurance and simply make cash-price arrangements with patients. Many offer quite competitive rates for routine services. However, keep in mind that this alternative option does not satisfy the requirement to have minimal compliant health insurance and that you may need to pay the fine unless you are somehow otherwise exempt.
Additional living expenses, or loss-of-use coverage is typically a fixed amount – 20% of your dwelling coverage. However, if you live in an area prone to wildfires or hurricanes, it's worth checking with your insurer to see if they offer higher coverage limits in the event a catastrophe forces you from your home for an extended period. Additional living expenses can add up, so it may be worth the added peace of mind to increase this coverage component.
Admittedly, we originally approached this topic with the traditional opinion that RVs were mainly of interest to retirees, the baby boomers who enjoy spending their post-work life experiencing the great outdoors. While this segment of the population has long been the backbone of the RV industry, the new trend of working remotely while traveling is attracting much younger consumers to the RV lifestyle.