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.