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Old 10-05-2013, 09:22 AM   #1
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2012 22' FB Sport
Columbus , Indiana
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Angry Problems with repair and insurance

My family and I took a trip out west in July for 18 days in our 2012 22 ft. Sport. Everything was great until we were on our way back. We were an hour outside of St. Louis when I was going by a semi on the interstate. The Airstream started to fishtail. We were going uphill around a curve (I know I shouldn't have been doing this), so I couldn't get it straightened out. The fishtailing got so bad that the wheels on the Airstream were coming off the ground. Luckily, we did not roll it and we were able to get it straightened out. We pulled off the interstate and, after we started breathing again, we looked inside. Of course, stuff was everywhere and we cleaned it up. We continued onto where we were camping and we noticed the door had shifted. It was rubbing the upper left corner and leaving some marks. Other than that, we thought it was okay.

We took it home the next day and everything, other than the door, seemed fine. Being gone so long, my wife and I both had a lot of work to catch up on. We waited a few weeks and took the Airstream to a dealer near us (not an Airstream dealer). We were shocked when they called us and said they think it might be totaled. They thought the frame was bent, but since they don't usually work on Airstreams, they did not feel qualified to say it was definitely totaled.

I immediately called my insurance agent and we made a claim on August 20th. It sat at the dealer near us for a couple of weeks, then the insurance towed it to Dave Arbogast RV because that was the closest Airstream dealer. When my wife called Arbogast, she was told that they cannot tell if the frame is bent, so they wanted to get the exact measurements from Airstream in Jackson Center. Then they told us that they were not able to get the measurements and said the Airstream would have to go to Jackson Center for them to look at it. The person my wife talked to also said that he didn't think the damage to the door was caused by the accident because he could see a lot of scrapes from where the door was rubbing. He basically said we are liars and that the door had been rubbing before the accident. My wife explained to him that the door had been opened and closed a lot since the accident. We had another night of camping, we had to unload the camper and we had to clean it out before it was towed. There is no doubt that the accident caused the door damage.

Yesterday, the insurance company calls me and says they have an estimate for the repair. She told me the repair will be $607 and she began to list off what they were going to fix. The wheel well had some damage and there were some rivets that needed repair. I asked her about the door and she said that was not included because our accident did not cause the damage. The door was absolutely fine before our accident, then it was rubbing after the accident. She said she is just basing it on what the "experts" are telling her. She said that if we want someone else to look at it, we can do that, but it will be at our expense.

So I guess that Arbogast was somehow able to tell that the frame is not damaged now? I find that hard to believe. We have called and talked to a manager and we are waiting for a call back. Even if we are able to convince them that the accident caused the damage to the door, I am still worried that the frame is bent and we will be driving around putting our lives at risk.

Any ideas? Anybody dealt with Arbogast for service before? We are thinking about taking it to Jackson Center (it is only 35 miles from Arbogast) to have them look at it. Sorry for the long post, but we are so mad right now.

Shari & Greg
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Old 10-05-2013, 09:30 AM   #2
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I think being that close to Jackson Center I would definitely consider having them take a look at your trailer. I watched a video on YouTube showing how out of aligned doors are corrected at JC. They use a 2X4 and a large hammer. Looks a bit brutal but does the job.

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Old 10-05-2013, 10:06 AM   #3
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The best resolution would be to get it fixed at Jackson Center and have the insurance pay for it. They do good work there. And they know Airstreams better than most dealers I have had frame work (replaced rusted A frame) done at JC and would trust them for checking the frame and axle alignment. If the trailer is under warranty maybe they will align the door on the warranty. I think JC would be the best choice even if you end up paying for it yourself. At least it should make you worry less. Sounds like the insurance company is going to be a problem.

I do not know how I would expect an insurance company to react to an incident like this. Is the claim under the auto insurance since you were towing or is it under trailer insurance for damage?

Unless you were going really, really fast I would not put this down to a driver caused problem. You need to find out what the hitching problem is that caused the incident to start with. It is almost impossible to avoid being side by side with semi's a lot of the time when driving.
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Old 10-05-2013, 10:50 AM   #4
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I think you should name the insurance company, so the rest of us can make good choices when we insure our Airstreams. Insurance companies are always happy to take our premiums, but some are very difficult to collect from. They need to be named and held accountable. We can do this with our wallets, and not choose the bad ones.
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Old 10-05-2013, 11:12 AM   #5
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Columbus , Indiana
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The claim was under the trailer insurance and we have a $500 deductible. Our insurance company is State Farm.

We heard back from the manager and they are still claiming the door was not damaged in the accident. State Farm is insisting that they sign something in writing saying the frame is not bent, so now they are not so sure.

I think we are going to take it to Jackson Center either way. I don't trust Arbogast.
Shari & Greg
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Old 10-05-2013, 11:36 AM   #6
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shari and greg,
if the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction you might consider consulting an attorney experienced in these matters.

If there is a chance the frame is twisted, the trailer won't tow correctly, will be dangerous, and will have very little value. we pay insurance for these types of events - bring it to jackson center and get a reliable idea of what's going on with your trailer.
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Old 10-05-2013, 01:25 PM   #7
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Take a look at your states insurance commission to know your rights when it comes to the appraisal of the damage. Many states allow you to get independent appraisals which you pay for (often for x% of the claim value). The alternative would be to find 2-3 RV repair shops to provide the alternate cost estimate. I would start by making AS in JC one of them, asyour likely to get the truest idea of what really needs to be repaired. Then you can put together your own picture of how the damage occurred.

Insurance companys will usually cave when you demostrate that you are far better organized than they are. Fortunately the the shift ones desire to keep costs low also extends to into the quality of the people they hire.

Good luck.
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Old 10-06-2013, 05:11 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by ventport View Post
I think you should name the insurance company, so the rest of us can make good choices when we insure our Airstreams. Insurance companies are always happy to take our premiums, but some are very difficult to collect from. They need to be named and held accountable. We can do this with our wallets, and not choose the bad ones.
It doesn't really matter, just about all of the major insurance carriers have horror stories about being dealt with. I have had good and poor service from several of them over the years depending on the situation.

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Old 10-06-2013, 06:17 AM   #9
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Arbogast is a fairly new dealer, and their technicians may not be as experienced as some of the other dealers. Since you are so close to the factory, I would take it to them for a looking-over.
Now, your door may not be damaged, it may have become misaligned do to the pounding of the trailer bouncing off its wheels. This could be from a hinge not being as tight as it might be, and the repeated impacts jarred it out of position.
Adjusting the door is not difficult, but gaining access to the hinges to adjust them could be, "fun", since the mounting bolts are behind the interior aluminum panels next to the door frame inside the trailer.

BTW, and only to satisfy my curiosity, what kind of sway control are you using?
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Old 10-06-2013, 07:36 AM   #10
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Go to the MOTHERSHIP next. Do not pass "go camping" .

In fact if possible have it taken there by flatbed transport on a low bed trailer because it is unsafe to do otherwise
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Old 10-06-2013, 08:26 AM   #11
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Re the post by Overlander63, I also was wondering what type hitch you had.
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Old 10-08-2013, 06:57 AM   #12
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Columbus , Indiana
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We have a Fastway E2 hitch with sway control.

State Farm called yesterday and I could not be more angry. They sent one of their estimators from Ohio to take a look at it. They continue to say that our accident did not cause the damage to the door. The lady I talked to yesterday actually said that the door shifted because we were hanging on the door. Unbelievable. She continues to say "I have to go with what my expert is telling me."

Their so called "expert" also can tell that the tires on the Airstream never left the ground during our accident. I will never forget the sound of the tires from that day. It sounded like an airplane was landing every time the tires came back and hit the road.

The person they sent to look at it doesn't "think" the frame is bent, but they can't say for sure. They say we can have Airstream take it apart at our expense to see if the frame is bent. If it is, they will reimburse us the cost to take it apart. Basically, State Farm is not sure if the frame is bent and they are willing to risk my family's lives and anyone else who happens to be around us when we are driving down the road. I said that to her and that is when she told me that we could have it taken apart at our expense.

Does anyone know if it actually has to be taken apart in order to see if the frame is bent? I am going to call the Mothership today and I hope they can give me some answers. We should have had them look at it in the first place. Obviously something looks wrong or we would not have called the insurance in the first place. We just thought the door shifted when we initially took it in. I don't think Arbogast has even talked to the person who initially thought the frame might be bent. Don't you think it might be helpful to ask them why they think it is bent?

State Farm apparently thinks we are liars and/or we don't know what we are talking about.

Thanks for all of the responses. We will let you know how it turns out.
Shari & Greg
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Old 10-08-2013, 09:18 AM   #13
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Arborgast is only 30 miles from JC If I were you I would take it to JC I'm sure it would make the trip safely if you towed it yourself .
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Old 10-08-2013, 09:49 AM   #14
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Dear Shari & Greg - The belly pan has to come off to tell if the frame is bent or broken. That isn't a huge job. Once you take out the screws, gravity does the rest. Oh - there will be a mess of insulation, but you'll also find any leaks or other problems too. One thing about Jackson Center - you CAN get right into the service bays and have the techs SHOW you what they're checking (do it, they CAN miss stuff.)

I'd personally run a laser level down the frame rails looking for bends, AND I'd visually inspect the frame rails from front to back, especially between the axles and rear end. You could also have popped an outrigger or two - a lot less severe than a bent or broken frame, but will cause body damage over time. They can be tested by "grab and wiggle". Another thing to consider is that the axles might have been bent or damaged depending on how hard you bounced. Of course a shock absorber could have blown too (oil all over it is the symptom). These are only a year old, so they shouldn't need to be replaced if undamaged.


You should be able to tow it safely IF you keep your speed LOW - 35 to 45 mph. Stay off the interstates, it's all pretty flat ground between you and the mothership.

OH - and one last thing - the frame on the A/S is flexible - it could be bent BACK into shape if it is a bit wanky. The body helps stiffen the frame. The critical thing to check is that the connections between the body and the floor are intact!

Good luck and happy trails, Paula

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