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Insurance, Domicile, and Mail Forwarding

a Workers On Wheels reader asks....
(How Do I Get RV Insurance When I Don't Have an RV?)

RV Insurance, Domicile, and Mail Forwarding

RV Insurance, Domicile, and Mail Forwarding

I plan to make South Dakota my state of residence and domicile using an RV mail forwarding service. I don't have an RV, which SD doesn't seem to care about, but I am having trouble locating an insurance company that will work with me.

RV insurance companies say my vehicle, little flatbed trailer, and tent camping arrangement can't be insured, because it isn't an RV. Auto insurers say the mail forwarding address is not an acceptable physical address.

Do you have any tips that might help me?

Coleen, the RVing editor replies:

You've heard that saying about mixing apples and oranges, right? Well, you have fruit salad! Apples, oranges, bananas, and grapes, too.

Seriously, you are mixing up several different issues. Lets look at them one by one.

~ Domicile. Your domicile is not determined by your mail forwarding service. Your domicile is determined by your intent and the actions you take to demonstrate that intent. Your mailing address may or may not be one factor. Other factors are where you spend time, where you keep your belongings, where you refer to as home, where you bank, where you belong to organizations, where you belong to a church, etc. Even such things as where you have a library card. If you have a house or rent an apartment, or lease a long-term RV site could be factors. Although you might be traveling to many states as a full-time RVer, what state do you intend to be your home state?

~ Vehicle Insurance. Since you don't have a recreational vehicle, don't go to an insurance company that only insures RVs. I understand you may feel like your tent is an RV, and you may live in it, but that doesn't make it a vehicle.

~ Mail Forwarding Service. A mail forwarding service is just that: an entity that provides an address for your mail delivery, and then subsequently sends your mail on to you. It is usually possible to use your mail service address as your permanent, legal address.

~ Physical Address. When you are in your domicile state, where do you sleep? What is that physical street address? When you aren't on the road traveling, where do you garage your vehicle and trailer? Do you have all of your belongings with you, or do you have some of them stored somewhere? When you go to your domicile state to get your drivers license and register to vote, where do you stay? When you go to your home state to tend to other legal, family, or social matters, where do you stay? For many full-time RVers, that is an RV park or campground. You will find you need a physical address for all sorts of things, not just insurance.

As for tips.... Go to the state you intend to make your domicile and state of residence. Find a place to live for at least a few nights, possibly a campground. Not the Walmart parking lot, but a legitimate place to reside. Find a place where you can unhook your trailer and leave it while you use your vehicle to run erranads and tend to business. Make a list of the things you are going to do to establish domicile, and go about doing them. When you go to apply for things (such as your DL and bank account) know both your mailing address and your physical address. If they are both new to you, you don't have to have them memorized, but do have them written out and handy so that you can easily fill out forms that ask for them. Answer questions honestly, but simply. Don't answer questions with long stories, lengthy explanations, stories of your adventures, or excessive details of your plans, as those things will confuse people and make things more difficult. If you plan to use a SD mail forwarder, I highly recommend the UPS Store on West Main Street in Rapid City.

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