Back in July of last year, I posted about a collision my family’s renovated 1964
Airstream had been in. In St Paul, MN, at 9 o’clock at night, a drunk driver hit the rear left quarter of ‘Jack’ while he was parked.
The trailer was connected to the tow vehicle and thankfully no one was inside. The entirety of the vehicles were launched forward 35 feet, the compression of the hot water tank rang out like a gun shot, the bed, closet and kitchen galley were launched from their anchors.
My family witnessed the hit, helped the driver (unhurt) from the smokey (airbags) car, and began the next journey of our life with Jack. Tens of hours of phone calls with insurance, tow companies, rental car agencies, and renovators of classic Airstreams later, we just got Jack back last week.
His journey included a tow from MN to Helena, Ohio. Yes the wrong way, as we live in Washington. Thankfully, although the BMW went into the aluminum, the frame went into the BMW. He towed true from the start, and turned out his frame was perfectly square! Months went by before we got insurance payment for the repairs.
Our family? The truck was totalled from the beginning, as the entirety of the energy transferred from the amazing frame directly into the ball. With a compressed axle, and bent frame, you could see a large hump in the bed itself. Truckee was towed away the next day. We were lucky enough to have been parked at friends who happened to have a garage bay free. We unloaded everything, not really sure how we were going to get home.
1800 miles away from home during the height of Covid, and our self contained world had just been rocked. Thule box, bikes, everything salvageable from Jack (we did not know if we’d see him again), camping gear, and so much more.
With both vehicles towed away, and a rental car in hand, we began the ever important few weeks with grand parents in MN.
Emotional stories aside, here is what I learned along the way, that may be of interest to you. In my original post, many in this group said that the trailer would have to be totalled. Don’t ever give up, if you love your Airstream as much as we do.
• Both parties had State Farm. I never let them touch my policy, although they tried. As no one was hurt, it seemed after many conversations that the amount they were willing to pay, from his policy, could not go above around 100k. I had to prove value for repairs though. You can look up ‘Total Loss Thresholds’ for your state. I believe they assign the state of registration, so although the accident occurred in MN, law from WA was used. Both were about 70%, so it didn’t really matter.
• Have receipts and pictures; you’ll travel far. I was so tired by the time we were attempting to get final authorization for repairs, that I just hoped that they would find true value themselves. It didn’t even occur to me that I could submit a pro eval myself. Although I had receipts totaling over 50k in parts and labor, not counting the original value and my own substantial sweat equity, they only found comparisons for around 35k. Sadly that was the amount for the quoted repairs. After weeks of fighting them on this, I went to Mr. Polk, with the pictures I could scrounge up, and list of receipts. With his professional evaluation submitted to State Farm, they magically accepted the new amount immediately, and AUTHORIZED REPAIRS.
How’d we get home? After two weeks with the grand parents. We switched out the rental car for an Enterprise RAM 2500 Cummins Diesel, to haul a 5x8 U-Haul trailer.
The truck height in comparison to the trailer made the angle laughable and almost dangerous. Nothing else is allowed to tow! We also had two young children, with (new) car seats, to get home safely. We then worked our way west. Instead of national parks and a self-contained Airstream in tow, we were relegated to hotels.
Hint. Don’t pack a 5x8 trailer without hooking it up to the truck, or keeping the tongue raised. Thankfully I was able to dead lift whatever the weight amount was to get it on the ball from the ground. Only had to do that three times during our travels home over the next week.
That all said, I am now made whole on the trailer.
A new truck? Well that was a whole other story with the supply issues. As we traveled through or near 8 states, not one dealership had a truck for us. In the end we were able to source an identical truck, 2021 though, 30 miles from our home in Bellingham. Only $25k out on a truck we didn’t need though. Oh well. It all turned out ok. We’ve already spent a week in Whistler with April snow, frozen water hose and all. Life is good.