Wednesday, January 19, 2022


We got into an accident. Here’s what we learned that may help you

By Gail Marsh
Two days. Just two days until we’d be heading back north after several months in sunny, warm Florida. Two days. I was already packing up some things that we’d take out of our fifth wheel when we got home. My husband was making a final run: diesel fuel for the truck and travel snacks for me. Then it happened. Hubby hit a parking lot post. Hard. The truck front fender crumpled. One headlight shattered. The right front panel was wrenched loose by the impact. And just like that, our two days turned into potentially two weeks or more. Thankfully, Hubby wasn’t hurt – well, except for the minor ding to his pride from the accident.

Now what? Our situation was complicated. We had to have the truck fixed to get our rig back home. Our reservation at the RV park was ending within two days. On this trip we were traveling with two other families who also had just two days remaining at camp. We wondered how the claim might increase our future insurance premiums. We were hoping against our fear that the insurance company would total the truck due to its age. With all these things tumbling through our minds, we phoned our insurance company.

Let me just say that automation is great. Really. Well, OK, unless you need to talk to a real person. We followed the phone auto prompts and waited on hold. Several times. Finally, we gave up and called the road emergency number – even though we didn’t think it was a true emergency. After all, the truck was drivable.

Here’s what happened and how we dealt with it

  • Because of COVID, the insurance company did not send an agent to check out the damage. We took and sent pictures instead.
  • The insurance company turned our claim over to their “total loss” department. We took additional pictures of our 2005 F-350 diesel dually truck. Our pictures showed the pristine interior (little to no wear on carpet, seats and dash). We also photographed the exterior (aside from the accident damage, there were no dings, dents, or rust). In addition, we took a picture of the odometer, which showed 121,000 miles (still lots of engine life left for a diesel).
  • Reconsidering their original decision, our insurance rep told us they’d arrange a tow truck to take our truck to a repair shop located 85 miles away. We instead requested and secured a local auto body shop just 5 miles from the RV campground. The adjuster approved our choice.
  • At first, the insurance company balked at paying to replace some components the auto body shop recommended. We sent additional pictures offering better detail.
  • Before signing off on a settlement, we asked a supervisor to review the claim. All the recommended repairs were approved.

Breathing a sigh of relief…

All in all, things turned out okay. The camp graciously extended our stay (we were lucky they had space for us!). The auto body shop completely fixed the truck in record time. We were able to return home just a week later than planned.

What we learned from our accident

  • In dealing with insurance, it’s important to be completely honest and forthright.
  • Include your full name and claim number on all correspondence with your insurance company.
  • Be prompt in replying to emails and phone texts sent from the insurance company. Return their phone calls as soon as possible.
  • Remember that phone calls may be recorded. Be honest in your appraisal of damage. Don’t speculate or exaggerate.
  • Document everything. We primarily used email and text messaging to have a written record of every communication with our adjuster.
  • Be polite. We were firm in our communication without being hostile or rude.
  • Do not sign off on a settlement until you are satisfied.

Be safe out there!

Have you ever had an accident while traveling? What additional advice would you give? Please leave a comment.


Full-time RVing: Do you have the right insurance?

Auto collision tips from AAA



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Neal Davis
13 days ago

We did not have an accident, but did have two occasions last April to have our 43′ motorhome towed due to environmental add-ons to the engine. The first tow truck damaged our front cap, but denied responsibility. So my advice if your rig must be towed is to take as many pictures of your rig before it gets “on the hook” as you can. Only clear “before” pictures matched against the “after” pictures give you evidence of the towing company’s damage to your rig.

9 months ago

Four years ago we had a nasty roll over accident (due to a blow out) that totaled our big Class A. Two big lessons. Replacement coverage is worth every penny you pay for it. We ended up with a replacement coach four years newer with no out of pocket costs. And check your contents coverage. The default coverage is for a what seems to be a good amount (in our case it was $10,000) because you always figure you won’t lose everything. Well, trust me, you can lose it all – or at least as close to all to not matter. We were woefully underinsured for contents. It’s not an expensive coverage. Increase yours to an amount that would reasonably replace what you normally carry in your coach if everything was destroyed – because it can be. We’re not complaining, we were pleased with our settlement. But our current coach has significantly higher contents coverage.

Tommy Molnar
9 months ago

I’m shocked at how quickly insurance companies want to”total out” a vehicle. Until a couple years ago we were still driving our 97 F-350 crew cab (and I loved it!). My wife was no where near as enamored with it as I was. She was quick to remind me that if we were ever in an accident we would get almost nothing for it regardless of how much upgrading I had done. So, I grudgingly went along with getting a new to us pickup (which she found on the Carmax site). Now we might get more if an accident were to happen. Sigh. I stilll dream about “Moby the white behemoth” that is now a construction truck.  😥 

Wayne Caldwell
9 months ago

Three years ago we were headed from the Albuquerque area to Bryce Canyon, Utah. We were in our ’15 Ram 2500 4wd MegaCab with our ’01 CrossRoads in tow, a combined weight of about 18,000 lbs. We had stopped in Chinle and then Lake Powell, Arizona for a couple of days. We left Lake Powell and had gone maybe 30 miles into Utah when I saw two deer at the right shoulder. One ran away to our right, but the other shot out onto the road directly in front of us. 18,000 lbs at 60 mph, that deer didn’t know it was dead. Thankfully, because of the height of the truck, the deer didn’t come up onto the hood, but slid off to the opposite shoulder. Also, because of the height, it didn’t deploy the air bags or damage the diesel intercooler. Nothing catastrophic and we were able to continue our vacation and get back home safely. We had $4,500 damage and the truck was in the shop for about two weeks.