So you crashed your trailer... and now you need a value! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-23-2009, 08:27 PM   #1
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One of our members was recently the unfortunate victim of an accident where his trailer was totaled after a roll-over on the highway. Fortunately neither he nor his tow vehicle were hurt. He was shaken, but OK. His insurance company wanted to settle for NADA book value on his trailer, about $3,200. NADA is pretty close on cars... but trailers?

We all know that our fiberglass trailers are worth waaaay more than NADA book value, right? Well, how do you prove it?

You look up comparables. Craigslist, here, eBay and other sites with current market value listings that are of similar age and condition.

After submitting a number of similar trailers, the insurance company offered a little over $8,000. Quite a difference from their initial offer.

Several years ago, I found a '53 Airstream Flying Cloud that I was going to do a little rehab work on and turn it. I had done just about everything I'd planned to do to it, but having the 12v pigtail re-wired. I had the pigtail, and decided to take it to a friend of mine who has an auto-electric shop to actually do the transplant. He does gorgeous electrical work, and I knew he'd do a top-flight job. And he did. And then he promptly pulled the trailer into his shop door, damaging five of the thirteen curved top panels.

I had a repair estimate done of $5,700 at our "local" Airstream dealer.

His insurance adjuster called me and I faxed him the repair estimate. I told him that the trailer was worth $8,500 in the condition it was in. I got the usual, "the trailer is totaled, we'll send you $2,000" for it. So I went about finding comparables, and the first I found was a frame-off restored '53 Flying Cloud for a mere $37,000. The adjuster took notice. After sending him a dozen "comps" of junkers that were selling in the $8k to $15k range, they wrote me the check for the $5,700. He told me all he had to do was explain to his boss how a fifty year old travel trailer could be worth that much.

So... the moral to these stories is that if you are willing to do your homework, and you know where to look, you don't need to be taken for a ride when your trailer is damaged. You just need to prove the fair market value of the trailer, and your insurance company will usually work with you.

Roger
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Old 02-23-2009, 09:28 PM   #2
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Timely topic Roger and one we hope everyone reads and never needs! I'd also encourage members to hang on to every receipt for mods, and maintenance parts purchased etc. And take pictures! Especially the kind where you've just washed and waxed your little gem and it's sparkling in the sun.
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:42 AM   #3
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In Ontario, our insurance broker says they want an appraisal before insuring. If not it gets insured at "book" value (diddly squat). Used to be the same for my '68 Chevelle. They would ask for a new appraisal every few years and adjust my rates accordingly. When told it would take a few years to fully restore our trailer, we were told to keep the receipts and photo's as we progressed. Depending on the situation we might be covered under the auto, the home or self insured till we got the right policy based on an appraisal.

Odd, that you would bring up this topic. I was just thinking the other night that Greg A. is probably in the best position to provide real values on our trailers because he has been searching for them so diligently. Hopefully he has been harvesting the data. I wonder if his opinion means anything?
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:11 AM   #4
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Odd, that you would bring up this topic. I was just thinking the other night that Greg A. is probably in the best position to provide real values on our trailers because he has been searching for them so diligently. Hopefully he has been harvesting the data. I wonder if his opinion means anything?
Donna D and I just had a discussion about this the other night and I'm providing as much detail in the listings that I turn up now since she mentioned that it would be very helpful for insurance evaluations on trailers. Thanks Donna for watching out for all of us.....

As far as my opinion meaning anything, it would probably depend on which day you ask "mi esposa" that question.....

Good topic Roger.....
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:48 AM   #5
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I don't dare touch the opinion then.

The numbers if available should speak for themselves.
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Old 02-24-2009, 02:01 AM   #6
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Roy, keep in mind that the receipts and photos will only establish how much you spent on it, not what it is worth in the market place (Could be much higher or lower) and is only a starting place that the agent hopes will be the stopping place.

Compare the situation to your owner-built home burning to the ground -- Would you settle for the cost of materials? Or would you be looking at real estate comps for your neighborhood?
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Old 02-24-2009, 09:38 AM   #7
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OK! You've provided me with some thought/questions.
We have also done a fair amount of work on our trailer over the last few years. Should I now get it re-appraised for the insurer?
Who would do the best job of appraising it for me? Keeping in mind that the insurer will do it to book value and a local RV dealer doesn't understand anything that isn't a "sticky". These fiberglass trailers have moved into a class by themselves and the only people who fully understand their worth are here on this, and other similar, FG forums. Pricing to sell is based on what you think that the buyer will give you for it.
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Old 02-24-2009, 06:37 PM   #8
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The purpose of getting an appraisal done is two fold. For you: you establish the fair market value (also called ACV or actual cash value) of the trailer, and for the insurance company: they charge a premium based on the appraised value. For example, if you just say I have a 1973 Boler and shop for the lowest rates they will assume you are insuring a run of the mill $1500 trailer. If you have it appraised at $8000 because its in great shape, you may pay more annually but you will know that in the event of a total loss you will be paid $8000 not $1500.

What you have to make sure you have is an "agreed value" policy - in Ontario that means a 19a endorsement - not all insurance companies offer this, so you may have to shop around. If you don't go this route you will have to scramble to establish the value after the fact which is harder, by providing comparable examples, but again the insurance company will pay this grudgingly and perhaps not as much as an agreed value policy as they have not collected a fair premium up to this point.

Yes, I am an adjuster for a big, bad insurance company, lol.
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Old 02-24-2009, 07:04 PM   #9
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Sounds like you are into insurance Phil4500.

The trouble is this is a small market segment. Others have brought up valid points. I'm wondering if it would not be beneficial for us to find some independant appraisers across the continent that would be willing to learn about our trailers. Could we entice them to come out to group meets and do multiple appraisals on site?

We are fortunate in having companies that still produce similar trailers today so we have current market value of the newer trailers. Those of us with older trailers, no longer in production are in limbo. Since I have to pay for an appraisal periodically, I would prefer it to be as accurate as possible. What can we do to help facilitate that?

Given the numbers of members here, we should have some that have connections that can help set things up. Paul Neumeister for example has a body shop, that deals with appraisers all the time. Reace makes his trailers. Do we have any RV dealers amongst us? Or somebody in the family or someone that knows someone.

Suggestions?

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Old 02-24-2009, 07:34 PM   #10
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Donna D and I just had a discussion about this the other night and I'm providing as much detail in the listings that I turn up now since she mentioned that it would be very helpful for insurance evaluations on trailers. Thanks Donna for watching out for all of us.....
THANK YOU Greg . I know you've worked hard to find referrals for people looking to buy and that extra step you're willing to take to get the details in the topic may help someone in the future. You're a peach
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Old 02-24-2009, 07:53 PM   #11
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Personally, I am not a believer in insurance for stuf that I can afford to replace -- My Scamp just isn't worth the trouble -- Liability yes, but that's covered by my tow vehicle and/or homeowner's policies depending on circumstances.
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Old 02-24-2009, 08:17 PM   #12
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OK! I still ask the question,
"WHO do I get to appraise my fiberglass trailer that's competent enough to know about them".
An auto appraiser knows about cars and even there some specialize . Example ... antique and custom
I don't want mine to be catagorized with stickys that lose most of their value in about five or six years when they start to leak.

BTW, Who make up "Book Value"?
After re-doing the interior AND repainting the exterior AND replacing AND upgrading the axle AND..... I now think that this one is worth MORE than I paid for it fifteen years ago.

The closest major manufacturer of fiberglass trailers for us, is three provinces away or about five to six days of towing to even get them to look at it IF they even have time, or WOULD do it. A local RV dealer, [the closest is 30 miles away] might only give me the trade-in value as they see fit, considering a mark-up for themselves. AND then they base it against a "sticky"

Paul MAY be the closest thing, around here, to an Estimator as he does a lot of buisness selling parts, rebuilding and repairing them, and therefore has a good idea of market value, BUT that doesn't mean that he is, or wants to be a liscenced appraiser.

Rant, Rant!


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Old 02-24-2009, 08:29 PM   #13
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I can't help with any knowledge on appraisal companies. But, I've had two classic cars that were wrecked. I know the headaches and heartaches that come with dealing with insurance companies. That's why I said to keep receipts and take LOTS of pictures. If I hadn't done exactly that, I would have been SOL on at least one of those vehicles.

I also plan on keeping an eye on the For Sale forum and Referrals. I'm going to print out any trailer that it listed that's similar to my own. Because unlike Pete, I do carry insurance... but want to make any insurance claim as painless as possible. I'd rather think ahead than DANG, why didn't I .....

My 2-1/2 cents for whatever that's worth!
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Old 02-24-2009, 09:42 PM   #14
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Yes, I am an adjuster for a big, bad insurance company, lol, so I know of what I speak.
Phil, where do we find or create someone capable of appraising these things? Got any contacts in the field? Are there associations of appraisers? Are there ... ????

I'm with James, we need to find something.

Realistically, I don't imagine the rates to insure a $8G trailer will twice that of a $4G one. I know my wreck cost me about $600 when I got it, so I self insured. Since then, I've put $2-3 G into it in parts plus 3 years of PT labour. It is getting to the point where I would consider insuring. 2 more years and I will definately want it insured. Many of these old beasts are worth much more than they cost new so they have appreciated rather than depreciated in value.

What would you suggest?
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