Hail damage to older trailer

Real claims experience

A client recently asked if I would post an article about what really happens when you claim on an older trailer. I thought that was a good idea, so here it is.

The client, we'll call him Bob, had insured two older trailers for a value of $4,000 apiece. This seemed a reasonable amount. Now a 30 year-old trailer doesn't have a lot of value but there were many nice add-ons that had been built-in. The trailers were used for the occasional hunting trip and really did not have a lot of wear and tear. The second trailer was a bit newer and also had been very well-maintained with extras built-in.

In August there were some severe hail storms in the area and Bob's trailers both took a lot of damage to the skins. There was also damage to the vents and the insurers took the stand of a total loss to both units.

When the insurer stated that the trailers were to be written off Bob thought he would receive close to the insured amount of $8,000. This is not how it works. When the appraiser went looking for values on older units like Bob's there were few to be found. The ones that were close were worth considerably less then Bob's insured value.

Bob did not save receipts when he replaced the tires with top-of-the-line Goodyear. He did not keep receipts for when he did his upgrades over five years ago. He should have kept some form of record because in this case a man's word is not good enough. No one doubts Bob's honesty but there has to be some sort of paper trail.

The appraiser did give some consideration on the new tires. Bob tried to find some units to prove the higher value but could not locate any on the internet nor in other media. Bob could not waste any further time, he wanted to settle his claim.

The insurance answer
After checking for units that were similar in age and size the appraiser presented his values to the adjuster. Bob had decided that he would salvage the trailers. This means he keeps the trailers and accepts 90% of the value determined. Bob accepts a payout of just under $5,400.

These trailers will drop to the salvage value if he wishes to keep them insured. As well, until it has been shown that he has repaired all the hail damage, there will be a SEF 13H endorsement. This excludes payouts for hail damage.

What can you do to prevent this from happening to you? Some steps you might consider include:

  • Keep receipts for parts, add-ons and upgrades to your trailer
  • Have an appraisal done prior to insuring your unit
  • A picture is worth a thousand words, take a few pictures inside and out
  • If you see a valuation on a similar unit, record it.
  • Or be prepared to spend a lot of time doing research to prove value.