Lightning puts hole in RV’s roof. Big damage. Insurance company balks!

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By Billy Walkowiak
COLLISION SAFETY CONSULTANTS
A 2015 Heartland Silverado camper was struck by lightning resulting in a hole in the roof causing water damage since July without the owner’s knowledge. He discovered the damage last month. Progressive said, “We will pay to fix the roof, but the subsequent damage is not covered.”

After speaking to me I told the camper owner to invoke the appraisal clause. Now folks, there are a lot of adjusters and appraisers who will mislead victims or are simply uneducated.

The insurance adjuster wrote:
I am writing in response to our conversation yesterday regarding your travel trailer and the excluded damages that occurred from water seeping into the unit. You indicated you would like to invoke the appraisal clause. This clause is typically reserved when a customer and insurer cannot agree on the actual cash value of a vehicle, not when there is a coverage decision dispute. Our estimate included consideration for the sudden damage that occurred from the lightning strike (roof repair and electrical repairs). Our coverage doesn’t apply to the water damage to your camper that has occurred since the original date of loss, July 3, 2019.”

HE IS 100% wrong. My customer suggested he contact his supervisor or go back and read his own policy. Within 24 hours they hired an independent appraiser to speak to me. I explained my position and had an estimate prepared by a camper repair company. The customer went from a $12,521.56 repair estimate not covering mold, electrical and water damage, to getting his camper declared a total loss and receiving $30,000 to go buy a new camper.

NEVER TRUST ANYONE WHO OWES YOU MONEY. The adjuster lowballed the repair cost, told him he couldn’t use the appraisal clause, and that the camper would never total. So was the adjuster dishonest or just incompetent?

Billy Walkowiak is the founder and CEO of Collision Safety Consultants, 6116 W Wilkinson Blvd in Belmont, North Carolina. He can be reached at Billy.collisionsafety (at) gmail.com, (704) 747-9337 or on Facebook.

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James Rrynolds
7 months ago

It is the insured’s responsibility after a claim resulting from an insured peril to protect the property from further damage by whatever means necessary. Insured should have done temporary repairs immediately after the event to protect the rv.

Karen
7 months ago

Isn’t this just a repeat of a facebook rant I saw last week?

Tim
7 months ago

I used to have Progressive on my tow vehicle until another vehicle hit me. My own fault, but Progressive only would repair my truck with used parts, including electrical parts. I raised **** with the adjuster but they wouldn’t budge. I ended up forking out money out of my pocket to get new factory parts and promptly cancelled Progressive. No wonder their policy was cheaper than anybody else.

Tim
7 months ago
Reply to  Tim

Let me add: Accident was not my fault. What was my own fault was not fully reading the fine print.

Kristy
7 months ago
Reply to  Tim

Sadly, a lot of insurance carriers are only approving aftermarket parts nowadays. For example, Farmers sent out a notice (last month) to all bodyshops saying, without an OEM endorsement on the policy, after market parts will be used when the vehicle has 1 mile or more on the odometer! Just be prepared. Sometimes you can find a bodyshop that will actually work in your favor and work the system in order to get you those OEM parts 😉

H Goff
7 months ago

i though this was a newsletter about RVs – not a rant about one person’s one-sided recount of dealing with an insurance claim.

Miles Boyd
7 months ago
Reply to  H Goff

It is one article in a newsletter about RV’s.

Brian
7 months ago

Wifes an insurance supervisor she tells me stories of how they are instructed to low ball the claim. Call the insurance Commissioner in the state the company resides in. They always “reconsidered” and play fare, they hate it when the adjuster has to justify the denial in writing to the Insurance Commissioner. Like some one else said, Never believe an Insurance company that owes you big bucks, ever.

Bobby
7 months ago

I had a Progressive insured women trying to outrun some some guys harassing her at a quick market stop. She drives her car 450 feet down a bike path and goes through my new $4,000 cedar fence and stopped at the front wheel of my daughters vehicle. We helped the person with a phone, let her leave her vehicle on my property overnight and picked up car parts. To which Progressive paid less than ⅓ to fix the fence. I had to fix it myself. Ever try to dig up snapped posts encased in concrete? Progressive may help their insured, but they have no problem ***ting on those who’s property is damaged. I should have taken them to claims court. Lesson learned.

RANDY L Johnson
7 months ago

As an Adjuster for over 40 years, My question is why they did not run this through their legal department before denying a policy provision. Very dangerous from the Insurance companies position. Also, Right of appraisals is for damage. The proper part would be the Arbitration clause found in most policies. A good adjuster will always look for coverage, If none found, then they are strong on denial. If not Pay the claim 100%

Billy Bob Thorton
7 months ago

Unless the boiler plate verbage in the insurance contract precludes him from legal action ( a.k.a. arbitration clause) SUE THE BASTARDS. Nothing gets an insurance compaies attention more than litigation that will set a president, if one does not already exist, which i would find hard to believe it doesnt.

Goldie
7 months ago

I’ve had very few insurance claims over the years, thankfully, but my experience in all has been just the opposite of these folks. Both with Progressive and other companies my claims have been handled promptly, appropriately and settled to meet or exceed my expectations. The adjusters assigned each time were friendly and helpful, and in at least one case, advised me of a (costly for them) benefit that I didn’t even realize was available. I have no idea why my experiences have been different from others, maybe just luck of the draw, but two of our claims were significant so I don’t think it has to do with dollar value. Filing a claim doesn’t have to become an adversarial experience.

Billy Bob Thorton
7 months ago
Reply to  Goldie

Luck of the draw,circumstances where they didn’t see a need to short your claim, whatever. In any event good for you.

How many of you recently received that $100+ check from the class action lawsuit won against State Farm for their forcing use of inferior ” like kind parts” on vehicle repairs. Count me as one. I fought them back when they tried it with me, but just were arrogant in their position telling me too bad.

Seriously, there are three entities always trying to be top on the who is disliked the most list, they are; Banks, lawyers and insurance companies.

Joan Richardson
7 months ago

I have been fortunate to have The Hartford (AARP). I have never had any claims and now 2. One last year and one now. I was fearful I would get some resistance with 2 claims in 2 yrs. No problem. I have been impressed so far with this company and their appraisers. Both times I have had RV at the RV service center. I don’t know if that makes a difference because the manager talks to the appraiser as my advocate.

Billy Bob Thorton
7 months ago

Let it be known, you are now on their internal data base referred t as ” frequency of claim”. They share this data base with all member insurance companies, which is to be included when setting your rate. If you pop above the parameter of their algorithm, especially when their financials start to show certain trends, you will be put on the chopping block. The only unknown is the algorithm itself, and how much weight it gives to length of time a policy holder, and number of claims made, paid out on, etc. That’s very guarded information, that your agent, your only connection to said insurance company, will do his or hers best dumb act, if your ever dropped.

jillie
7 months ago

Thats really weird. Because when we insured our RV with progressive they asked us what would you take if the camper is damaged. I told them I believe I can get a replacement for around 15. So they put on there. I really think there is more to it then meets the eye. But this is IMO not theirs. All I can say is I have never had a problem. I guess they like me better? Good luck.

Billy Bob Thorton
7 months ago
Reply to  jillie

Lucky for you your not a certified RV apraiser in the eyes of the courts, otherwise if you suffered a total loss, they could hang you for that valuation, if a total loss ocured.

But, since your just a regular citizen, that can’t be qualified as an expert in insurance appraisal, your safe.

Don’t be fooled, they have multiple valuation guides to determine values, it’s how they price the policy!

Alvin
7 months ago

Answer to question – likely both – definitely incompetent, and if the general public knew what it took in terms of expertise/education to become an insurance company appraiser, and to a lesser extent an adjustor (he or she is just an appraiser good at making up excuses on the fly promoted to a nice air conditioned office) you would understand better why this s**t happens. There’s lots of really good folks who pay their premiums every year who get shafted thusly, and unnecessarily.

Cut Bills reply out and nail it to the garage wall – good stuff.

Ken Schaeffer
7 months ago

Why isn’t ALLSTAYS entry identified as a paid advertisement or something comparable?
Smacks of deception.
Feels like the typical sellout RV Travel objects to and states it reflects.

Dave
7 months ago
Reply to  Ken Schaeffer

It should also be noted that unless you use Apple products, don’t bother with there product.

Tommy Molnar
7 months ago

Always keep in mind, insurance companies are in business to MAKE money, not lose it. So, whether it’s car insurance, home owner’s insurance, life insurance, RV insurance, whatever insurance, their position will always be to give you the least amount of ‘benefit’ they can get away with. This has been my experience with this stuff. You have to be firm and not give up.

David Bean
7 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

As an independent insurance adjuster I would say you are wrong. The policy is what we adjust the damage to, you have not read their policy. Most have a clause to report the damage asap. We were always told to find all the covered damage and pay. My advice is to read your policy, if you don’t understand it get the agent to explain it. You may need to add coverage, instead of buying the least coverage.

Irv
7 months ago

I can see the insurance companies point. The owner was negligent in not finding the damage for several months. If it was in storage, you’d think the storage company would have noticed the damage and alerted him.

I check mine at least every two weeks in storage. Mostly for water damage and rodents.

Traveler
7 months ago
Reply to  Irv

Why would the storage company notice interior damage?

rich
7 months ago
Reply to  Irv

just how are the storage lot people supposed to notice a hole in the camper’s roof?

Billy Bob Thorton
7 months ago
Reply to  rich

Helicopter?

Billy Bob Thorton
7 months ago
Reply to  Irv

Enough already with the whoa is me poor insurance company line. Sue them and set a precedent. The term is ” what would a reasonable person” do in this situation. Answer, just what he did. Result insurance company paid up. Observation; put the policy holder through hell for no reason. Boy, what a shock. Hope you don’t get an education, where the outcome isn’t to your satisfaction.

Al H
7 months ago
Reply to  Irv

I have to agree with Irv. Paying for insurance coverage for your rv doesn’t replace your responsibility to keep an eye on it and get problems taken care-of in a timely fashion. You can’t just put things on autopilot, walk away for months, then expect someone else to pickup the tab for whatever happens. Ain’t happening, and the fact that anyone thinks it should is part of what is screwed-up in our society. To quote the Eagles, “But the big, bad world doesn’t owe you a thing! Get over it!”

Kurt
7 months ago

I wonder if the adjuster gets an “end-of-year bonus” if the insurance company saves money with low ball offers on claims accepted by the customer ?

Billy Bob Thorton
7 months ago
Reply to  Kurt

Officially NO. They would never be that dumb. In reality, what do you think! I dare anybody in the industry to chime in and tell us how the wink, wink works on this topic.

Bill P
7 months ago

While I mistrust the insurance companies, the appraisers are often times hit or miss.

I’ve had 2 claims with Progressive, one they dismissed out of hand (and it was a longshot, but I figured to take a chance anyway) and the other the appraiser was very good and thorough. He opened the conversation by apologizing for my experience with their Roadside Assistance agent and their incompetence. He also offered to recommend the company reimburse me for the cost of a tire (it was a Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t find a G-rated tire and had to settle for an E just so I could get off the side of the interstate – I had no use for that tire once I got to the shop the next day) and a night in the campground.

Billy Bob Thorton
7 months ago
Reply to  Bill P

He never used the word ” incompetence ” . Rule number one in the insurance business, never say or put in writing, anything that can be used against you, if you can appeal the claim.

I actually caught an adjuster, in my house, saying ” let me show you hows its done” to the junior adjuster. I immediately stepped into the room they were talking, and told him ” get out of my house” . The look on his face was priceless. At that moment i knew i was now going to get a fair shake. Oh, and guess how that claim was settled. Reason the “senior” guy was there, inordinate amount of claims had overwhelmed the local staff, due to a huge storm, so they pulled in adjusters from outside the geographic area to help out. Makes you just love insurance companies now, doesn’t it.

Jeff
7 months ago

Insurance companies always look to save a buck and could care less about the policy holder! Funny how when your premium is due, whether that be monthly, ever 6 months or whatever, the insurance company SNATCHES that money up right away. But, when the time comes for you to get any assistance with a claim, they will drag their feet, sometimes indefinitely!

Living in Louisiana, insurance rates are the second highest in the nation, we were the highest, but now Michigan takes the #1 spot. LOL!

Alvin
7 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

Jeff, if you want to experience “high insurance rates” I suggest you look into rates in my province of Alberta Canada. I don’t know what you pay, but I, with a perfect record and the best scores in all boxes pay a fortune to insure an RV I use max 6 months of the year and store properly on my property, where I have access to it 24/7.

I take extreme care to ensure I do not have to deal with an insurance company in any way. They like that, serving as cash registers taking in – giving nothing.

Billy Bob Thorton
7 months ago
Reply to  Alvin

Not to pile on but you guys should leave Oh Canada, and use your petroleum money to offset the insurance gouging.