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Navigating RV roof replacement through insurance

One of our readers, Ty, recently asked: “We have roof damage due to hail. Insurance has agreed to replace it, but I think it is a lowball settlement with labor cost being quoted at $125 per hour. I called major companies and their going rate is $160 – $180 per hour.

Questions:

  • What are the current rates?
  • What is involved in a roof replacement?
  • Is it really replacing or just total epoxy covering?
  • I see mobile roof repairs. Are they reliable and good? Or do I need to take it in? I am living in the unit full-time, so taking it in takes planning. Thanks for your time.”

Ty has a Grand Design Reflection, 30′ fifth wheel.

Dear Ty,
I am so sorry to hear about the hail damage to your RV! I hope the following information will be helpful as you navigate through the repair process.

Current rates

Labor rates really do depend on where you are located. I’m in California, and the RV repair facilities in my area charge anywhere between $175 – $225 per hour. Additionally, not all RV roof replacements are the same. The number of attachments on the roof (A/Cs, vents, skylights, moldings, etc.), all play a role in the final cost of a roof replacement.

The cost of the roof replacement also depends on how extensive the damage is. Some RV roof replacements can be done without having to replace the wood sheeting beneath the roof membrane, while others will require new sheeting.

My best advice is to not get hung up on the initial numbers your insurance company provides. Contact your trusted and certified RV repair shop and schedule an appointment. They will work with your insurance company and negotiate the true cost on your behalf.

While there are some insurance adjusters who have actually worked in the RV industry, it’s not typical. The initial number you were provided was most likely pulled from the insurance company’s flow chart, and this number is intentionally low to prevent the insurance company from overpaying.

It is a common practice for repair facilities to supplement your insurance company. This supplement captures the difference in labor costs, freight fees and anything additional that the adjuster didn’t consider during their original estimation.

Roof replacement

A roof replacement is just that, a replacement of the RV roof.

  • All items on the roof are removed (A/Cs, vents, TV antenna, satellite, skylights, etc.).
  • The roof membrane is removed.
  • The wood sheeting underneath the membrane is then inspected to see if it can be reused or needs to be replaced or overlayed.
  • A new roof membrane is installed.
  • All attachments are reinstalled and sealed up.

A process of RV roof replacement

Roof replacement or epoxy covering?

My repair facility does not perform epoxy coverings, so my response on this might be biased. But in your scenario, I would recommend a full roof replacement. This recommendation is solely based on the theory that someday in the future, either something on your RV roof will break and/or you will want to upgrade something. When that time arrives, you can easily have the item removed and replaced by only disturbing the sealant in that area. You won’t want to disturb that epoxy coating as it will be compromised.

Mobile RV technicians

Some reputable mobile RV technicians exist, but in my experience, they’re hard to come by. For the most part, they are RV technicians that couldn’t handle production or quality standards at a dealership. Mobile technicians in my area have the reputation for not carrying required insurance, collecting or paying sales tax, and everything in between that is required and expected when running a reputable company. Because of this, they can exist one day and be gone the next.

While there are times mobile technicians are the only option because your jacks or slide outs are stuck in the out position, I would not recommend getting something (like a roof replacement) done by a mobile technician. You and your insurance company will want a repair of this magnitude completed by a business that can and will stand behind its warranty.

Full-time RV living and repairs

I would estimate that about 40 percent of my customers live in their units full-time. RV repair is not like Jiffy-Lube. Unless your repair is something small and we have all required parts and supplies on hand, it’s rare to have RV repairs completed from start to finish the same day.

My best recommendation to you is to find an independent repair shop that does not have the “luxury” of a large, vast lot. A repair facility with limited space sees its lot as expensive real estate. They won’t want to hold your unit hostage.

For something like a roof replacement, make two appointments with the shop of your choice.

  1. Make one appointment for them to take pictures and measurements for the insurance estimate. This allows them time to negotiate everything with your insurance company and then to order all items in advance.
  2. Make an appointment for the roof replacement.

Some insurance plans may cover all or a portion of hotel accommodations while your unit is being worked on. Lastly, communicate clearly with your repair facility about your living situation, so they can plan appropriately on their end, as well.

More from Dustin

Read more of Dustin’s articles here.

Dustin owns and operates California RV Specialists, an independent RV repair shop located in Lodi, CA. He thrives on sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm of RV repair and maintenance with his team, customers, and virtual friends.

Be sure to check out his YouTube channel where he shares what’s going on in the shop and the product offerings in the store. Dustin is also very active on Facebook. Join his group, RV Repairs and Tips – What’s in the shop!

Dustin proudly operates the business alongside his wife, Ashley; but the true pair that run the show are their Boston Terriers, Arvie and Hitch.

##RVT1087

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Neal Davis
14 days ago

Thanks, Dustin! Our roof is fine, but your extensive answer has educated me, perhaps so much that I’ll remember some of this if we ever need our roof repaired or replaced. Thank you!

Thomas D
15 days ago

I should have been a Rv tech
Never in my life did I make $100 an hour so they can charge $175/200 an hour
My son in law and I changed the roof on my old class c
$140 for the roofing material and maybe another $100 for sealant new vent cover etc
Done in 5 hours start to finish
I see too many hours charged to a job that is spent talking seeing other customers on my dime and chasing parts that could be done by a high school kid. I feel fortunate that I can do the work because I certainly couldn’t afford 18,000 dollars

Drew
15 days ago

Dustin.

Another extremely helpful and informative article! Your comments of mobile rv guys were enlightening also. I would however like to point out that Blondie’s RV in Lake Havasu has a terrific reputation. One of their guys gave me some repair tips that saved me from having to call someone to fix it. I later tipped him 20 bucks for the advice.

Jane
15 days ago

In May 2020, our 11 month old motorhome had a tree branch fall on it. There were many holes in it, but the decision to replace the entire roof was because there was damage on a radius edge that was visible from the ground and being the rig was so new. 19K later, Progressive Insurance was a dream to work with.

Dennis
15 days ago
Reply to  Jane

Glad to hear that Jane. I’ve had Progressive Michigan insurance for 25 years without a single claim…..but I boondock in the National Forest and I am only one big windstorm from a likewise predicament.

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