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Filed under: Preparation & Readiness, RVing & the Legal System

Is your RV insurance adequate???

October 31, 2011 by · 7 Comments 


As we have been dealing with the frame failure of our Gulf Stream 5th wheel, we have found the learning curve to be quite steep!  It has been nearly 2 months since we realized that the ‘up-stairs’ part on our frame was cracked in all 4 corners, and that our rv was not structurally sound. crack in 5th frame corner 

Fast forward those 2 months, and our RV is finally getting fixed (over the course of the next month).  No thanks to the shoddy workmanship and lack of customer service on the part of Gulf Stream.  Even tho the first welder who looked at it said that the frame was inadequate for the weight of the trailer built upon the frame, and the repair shop who is fixing it for us now attributes the failure to ‘shoddy workmanship’ and a lack of fasteners attaching the sidewalls to the frame, Gulf Stream has yet to communicate with us about the failure despite our numerous contacts with them.  (on a side note, the repair shop has said that they will be cutting out that entire front part of the frame and building a new, heavier-duty frame to replace it)

 While we are struggling with the irresponsibility of Gulf Stream, we are thankful for the insurance we do have.  Now, we have never had to deal with an insurance issue on our rv before, so this has been a bit of (a lot of) a learning experience.  It has made us consider and even deal with issues that we had not previously thought of.  Nothing in this article is to be considered advice, but is just put out there to hopefully help others consider their own insurance - making sure that their coverage is adequate for their possible needs should there be an issue with their own rv…

Our insurance carrier is Farmers.  We do not have ‘fulltimers’ insurance, nor specialty insurance.  What we do have is collision or full-coverage on our 5th wheel as an addition onto our tow vehicle.  Our insurance is covering the failure as they consider it to be from bad roads and thus it is covered under our collision coverage.  I will be the first to say that the price is right – it’s about $5/mo to add the rv on to our truck.  We also have some sort of other coverage on our rv (comprehensive?), through Farmers that will cover replacement cost of our rv should there be a fire while we are not hooked to the truck – this was an additional small fee.  And we used to consider this adequate.  

That was before we were homeless for 2, going on 3, months.  We really had never considered what would happen to us should our rv be out of commission and we had to find another place to live for an extended amount of time.   We had not considered the trouble to continually move between friends and family, and funding 2 or 3 hotel rooms for 3 months would be the financial end to our travels this winter (besides being the end of my sanity).  This is not really a concern for those who maintain a home in addition to their rv, but for fulltimers, it really must be considered.  We never dreamed that we would be out of our rv (home) for 3 months!  And while we are unique in that we have a large family and fulltime (and no-one wants to rent to a fam with 10 kids), this could possibly effect others also.

When this whole fiasco is over (I really can’t deal with more stuff right now!!!), we will be re-visiting our insurance coverage.  Besides being not really thrilled with the service from our auto coverage (took 7 weeks to get the repair OKed),  we now feel like we are probably under covered. 

While I’m sure there are more, here a few things to consider, especially if you fulltime, are:

*Coverage for out of RV repairs:  will your insurance cover your housing bills (hotel, rental) should you be required to leave your rv due to repair or totaling? 

*Liability:  (like homeowners) what if a visitor were to slip on your rv steps (lets be honest, they aren’t much like ‘real’ steps).  When we were in Corpus Christi, we experienced and ice storm, and Vaughn slipped down the front door steps.  He had a very nasty bruise for MONTHS!  Had this been someone not in our family, even if we had not invited the visitor, we could have possibly been liable for any Dr. exams or injury claims. 

*And everyone should consider collision coverage on their rv – could you afford to replace your rig should you be in an accident where you are deemed liable or the other driver is underinsured? 

 Now that we have had to deal with not being adequately covered for the issues that we are having, it has really made me consider our coverage.  And our carrier.  Now, in Farmer’s defense, we did complain about the time frame of our repairs, and they have (with a little pressure) agreed to haul our RV down to Phoenix for us, which is an additional 900 miles over bringing it back here to MT – which means that we can actually leave MT before the RV is finished, but that means yet another move (this weekend will be #3 in 2 months).  But, because of the timeline at this point, we are not sure that we are going to make it to AZ before spring; we really want to spend Christmas with our son who will be at boot camp further east.  Since we will now (Hopefully!!!) be able to get our RV back by Dec. 1, we will need (want) to head his way right away (we have, but don’t like to, travel fast).  Yet we also do not want to be ‘moving’ back into our RV here – Dec. in MT is not the best moving weather.

We are so thankful that our vehicle coverage is stepping up where Gulf Stream is failing, but we also now realize that it would have been cost effective (and stress relieving) to have had full-timers RV insurance.  And while I don’t know all the details (but am certainly going to work on finding them out), I do know that fulltimer insurance is said to cover the expenses of being out of your rolling home, and I’m hoping that, since it is coverage specifically designed for RV living, it would also work to have you back in the driver’s seat as soon as possible (instead of treating us like it doesn’t matter because surely our rv sits all winter like most, right?).  

How would your insurance measure up should something happen to your rolling home?  Would it cover out of house expenses?  Would they do their best to get you back on the road as soon as possible?  Would you be covered should someone get hurt in your ‘home’?    Right now would be a good time to read the declaration pages of your rv coverage, and consider the worst-case scenarios!

Just some food for thought – it’s not fun to realize that you have the wrong insurance just at the time that you need the right coverage…   :(


7 Responses to “Is your RV insurance adequate???”
  1. butterbean carpenter says:

    Howdy Dana,
    Thank you, for all of the thought you put into this article.. I for one hadn’t thought about full-time insurance.. Even though we are at an age that full time ‘parking’ may be in our future; should we have to sell-out and live in the ‘portable’ home.. I’ve had Farmer’s Insurance before and was satisfied with them.

    When y’all do get back on the road and headed in a southerly direction we would love to have you stop by and spend some time on the ranch… We’re in the ‘heart’ of Texas, near Abilene-San Angelo-
    Brownwood triangle, and have lots of room to park… Or for more amenities there is a C.O.E. park
    across the hiway from us… Here’s wishing y’all a fast hook-up & get-away on the Smooth roads, with
    clear blue skies & balmy breezes!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Sweetp says:

    FYI- Hopefully your new repairs will last a lifetime but If you are looking at another 5er in the future, it is my understanding that one company makes ALL 5er frames. Not so sure Gulf Stream is the culprit here… Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that they couldn’t have “stepped up” more than they have but why should they when you are blasting them at every turn. I’d be a little resistant to helping after that too. You bring up good topics in your articles like modifications, insurance etc but why bring up the same “frame failure” in EVERY article? Good Luck but get over it!!

  3. Professor95 says:

    Sweetp – I see your point and agree you can “catch more flys with honey that vinegar.” But, in Dana’s situation GS and Lippert have simply ignored her, which is what is the main point of her articles. If GS or Lippert had responded it would most likely be a different story. It is hard to “get over it” when you are looking at your home and potentially a $70,000 loss.

    I also have experienced frame and suspension failure my RV. Fortunately, my manufacturer, which is Forest River Cedar Creek, stepped up to the plate and did the RIGHT thing (and more) to correct a problem that was Lippert’s fault (Lippert builds the frames and suspension in China). Just being a responsible and responsive company goes a long, long way. I WILL buy another Cedar Creek based on their customer service and will NEVER consider a Gulf Stream based on what they did to Dana’s Family. I think more RV’ers should speak up about irresponsible manufacturers that simply ignore their customers after the sale in hopes of shirking responsibility for their intentionally caused defects. I am curious – would you buy a Gulf Stream knowing how Dana has been treated?.

    Dana – Don’t forget coverage for uninsured motorist. If someone with NO insurance damages your RV you are out-of-luck without this added coverage.


  4. dana t. says:

    Sweetp –
    I certainly understand what you are saying, and we did try to ‘catch more flies with honey’, but when a company completely ignores any attempt to talk with you for over a month (before I started ‘bashing them’), it tends to make one be a little jaded towards that company with their lack of customer communication. :( Both companies refused to acknowledge pleas for advice on how to fix the damage so that a local company could do the repairs. Also knowing that we are now ‘stuck’ with a Gulf Stream product, with it’s extensive repairs, it is unlikely that we will be able to either trade it in or sell it for anywhere close to what it is (or should be) worth, is a little hard to swallow. I guess that I bring up the same ‘frame failure’ in every article because that is my life right now. Because of it we are not on the road writing about great destinations, but stuck in the frozen northwest, moving several times, missing a very special trip that cannot be taken later… I guess it would be like your sticks & bricks having flood or fire damage and you having to unexpectedly be out if it for 3 months. Hard to get over it when you are in the midst of the trials it creates. :(

    Hopefully my harping about our experience brings awareness to the rv community about the possibility of frame failure…the importance of considering, before the sale, a company’s (any companies) customer service reputation after the sale…the importance of having the right insurance coverage…having a back-up plan in case you have to leave your rolling home for any amount of time…

    Butterbean – thanks for the invite – TX is one of our fav places – we might just take you (and your minis if I remember right) up on the offer!!! ;)

    Randy – thanks for bringing up the point of uninsured motorists – I think that is covered under our full-coverage, but now you’re making me think that I’d better double check on that!!! :)

  5. longdog2 says:

    I think that the way Gulf Stream has acted is reprehensible and don’t blame you a bit for blasting them repeatedly. Same with Lippert. There should be some way that the dept of transportation would go after them as your frame failure could easily have endangered others on the highway had you not caught it in time. I hope you take them to court. On the other time, I can’t believe that Farmers is providing you the support they are considering the minimal insurance you have. Even someone that does not fulltime should have far better coverage than that. You also need coverage on the contents of your “home”.

  6. dana t. says:

    Longdog –
    the coverage that we have on our 5er is not enough. But, the comprehensive is more than just fire – it covers fire and natural disasters, and we do have contents coverage – probably not enough, but would cover the electronics that we carry as well as clothing, bedding…

    We will be reviewing our coverage, and finding coverage that is more appropriate for our lifestyle :)

  7. Sweetp says:

    I wouldn’t buy a Gulf Stream because I like what I’ve got which is a Rockwood travel trailer. My husband loved the idea of a 5er but I just don’t get it regardless of the logo on the side of it, but that’s me.
    OK so I’ve got a question. I really haven’t thought about it until Dana talked about the insurance and Randy brought up the topic of the uninsured. Does RV insurance has an option for a “rental” while the insured unit is in the shop? Is that standard? Is that an option? Does that exist? With auto insurance you have the option to add that. Does RV insurance have that option to add? Maybe Rv’ers should start a movement to “create” that option!
    I know you want “your” unit fixed but is renting a unit so you don’t miss your son, an option? I know it is a shot in the dark but would Farmers OR GC give you a loaner or help with a rental?
    I hear what you all are saying about the need to get the word out about Gulf Stream and I agree! I guess I’m wondering if there may be better option to to “get the word out” for lack of knowing what else to call it, about the poor service from GS?
    Better Business Bureau? Someplace where NEW people could learn about the Gulf Stream fiasco rather than the same people who get the Woodalls email? People who aren’t subscribed to the Woodall’s blog won;’t know about it so I guess my frustration about hearing about it over and over again is because you do have good topics and I click on the topic not knowing who the writer is and there it is again.
    What about a youtube video? My husband watches all kinds of RV videos on youtube to learn things. Maybe do a “RV frame failure fiasco” video where you talk about the issues you’ve had, show the pictures, explain the problems. Shucks post it on FAcebook and it might even go viral with the help of all our RV friends. Either GS will step up and do something or their sales will go down the RV toilet!
    Maybe I’m getting a frustrated as you because it does seems to be the issue that doesn’t go away for ANY of us. Maybe I read more articles on the blog page than I realize. Maybe Woodalls has more readers than I think they do.
    I have no idea how many subscribers this blog has but I KNOW there are lots of RVers that don’t get the blog so there are lots that won’t know about it unless it is communicated in other ways. Just a thought!

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