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Old 11-02-2014, 03:47 PM   #1
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Totaled Sportsmobile?


I thought the forum might be a good place to seek some advice from anybody that has had experience dealing with an insurance company on Sportsmobile repairs or total losses.

I have a 2007 Mercedes Sprinter that I had Sportsmobile West build out in 2008. I have added several more items since - business decals, upgraded rims, inverter, roof racks, ladder, etc. The van -was- pristine with only 40K miles on the diesel engine. Needless to say, my family loves this vehicle.

Last Tuesday, while sitting in traffic on a mountain road (hwy 17 N in Los Gatos, CA) a very large dump truck lost its brakes on the downhill and plowed into me from behind with no notice. This in turn pushed me into 3 other cars which I turned sideways and pushed over to the guard rail before ending up in the left lane and coasting to the shoulder.

Miraculously, nobody was seriously injured, but I cannot say the same for the Sportsmobile. The back, passenger side, and front end are all seriously damaged.

I'm waiting on the dump truck's insurance co, but the adjuster who went out said he thought it was totaled - when I asked at what value, he said $30K and I laughed. I told him to look up Sportsmobile and see what it cost to purchase or build one of these vehicles. My fear is that:

1. they fix it, and then I have a vehicle that has ongoing issues, and/or serious diminished value, since anybody looking up the VIN with see the history

2. they total it, and even if I got a check for what I paid in 2008, prices have gone up and I can't replace it without adding significant money

Given that this was a one-of-a-kind custom vehicle, does anybody have experience with putting a fair value on a 6 year-old Sportsmobile? Any advice is appreciated.

Thanks, Vic

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Old 11-02-2014, 04:32 PM   #2
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Re: Totaled Sportsmobile?

Vic - thanks for sharing your one hell of a story. gives me the shivers just reading it. crap.
Sorry to hear about your accident, that sucks big time but glad you didn't get injured, which is most important. not getting injured sure seemed like a miracle.

I'm sure others with more insurance experience will offer you sound advice on how to deal with this.
Seems like you have three parties to deal with - your insurance company, the dumptruck derby's insurance company and the company itself. I would think your insurance company handles the claim on your behalf. They might offer the best advice. Curious, was the dumptruck driver cited for the accident or was the truck found to be lacking proper inspection or load handling.
Good luck getting this resolved. hoping for the best!

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Old 11-02-2014, 04:39 PM   #3
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Re: Totaled Sportsmobile?

Thanks for the reply, windguy

I am going to get some advice from my insurance co tomorrow. I don't know whether the dump truck driver was cited, or whether they failed an inspection - these questions -have- been on my mind but as you can imagine, the accident scene was pretty chaotic.

I figured I would add up what I have in to the vehicle, and also price a replacement from SM West. Not my fault this happened, so I would be happiest if they replaced the vehicle with no cost to me. If they don't want to do that, I figured I can get an attorney and start asking some of the questions you raised.

I think they're getting a deal, because if I wasn't in my Sprinter, I would have been in my Mini and probably was worse off, if not dead. The initial impact was HUGE and the subsequent 3 were much smaller, so I also have to think that I buffered the other 3 cars from a much worse impact. To not have a wrongful death or injury suit on their hands should be worth replacing my vehicle, IMO.

Also, I will post some pics when I get home.

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Old 11-02-2014, 04:56 PM   #4
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Re: Totaled Sportsmobile?

Just don't sign ANYTHING, at least not yet.

There's the value of the rig, plus contents if damaged. Personally I'd also see an MD and maybe a chiropractor even if you don't think there's anything wrong with you. Sometimes accident induced medical conditions take a while to manifest themselves, so far better to be safe than sorry and sign way ALL your rights to file claims for a quick settlement.


[EDIT: call SMB and get a copy of the van build sheet, the original cost, and the cost to replicate the build, and 'comps' of used, similar vehicles if they have them]
SMB-less as of 02/04/2012. Our savings account is richer, but our adventures are poorer.
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Old 11-02-2014, 05:27 PM   #5
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Re: Totaled Sportsmobile?

Sorry to hear it. I'm very curious how this turns out. Please keep us posted, as I'm sure it's something everyone here has thought about.

Currently vanless. Weird.
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Old 11-02-2014, 05:35 PM   #6
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Re: Totaled Sportsmobile?

Lawyer up!
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Old 11-02-2014, 05:44 PM   #7
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Totaled Sportsmobile?

Get all your paperwork and receipts in order, all the way from your initial build from SMB to anything added after. Photos, even as it sits now, will help, take pics of all the systems, heater, water tank, stove, wheels/tires, house battery....I need to get things a little bit better documented myself. Good luck and sorry to hear of your loss, but at least you're here to tell it! Chris Thwaites is in the insurance biz, or at least was, I think, maybe ping him.
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Old 11-02-2014, 06:57 PM   #8
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Re: Totaled Sportsmobile?

I know this isn't going to be super helpful, but perhaps at this point even a so-so post will be useful on the whole.

Around ten years ago I had an older (14 years old at the time) car that I loved and that was in really pristine shape. In addition to that, I had kept it up as if it were a new car, and added goodies such as anti-sway bars, better shocks, etc. I was driving on I-15 about an hour east of Las Vegas, at night, and without any warning heard breaking glass, a roaring sound, and noticed I was going over 100 mph (I had been going 55). It took me a while even to figure out what had happened (as I shakily got over to the side of the road).

Upshot was that apparently there are folks think it's fun to get wasted and then drive down the freeway as fast as they can with no headlights on. That's why I never saw anything coming. They simply drove straight into the back of my car going something like 130 mph. The roaring sound was because my transmission had been driven forward by the impact and I was now in second gear (going over 90 mph!).

I drove away without a scratch on me, but the car took it hard: All engine mounts broken, trans mounts broken, center support bearing broken, fan shroud broken, battery tray broken, my seat back broken, glove box broken (lid flew into back seat), and frame bent (behind rear wheel though). My car! My poor car!

Insurance company totalled it and gave it a value of $1500. Now I knew it would be totalled due to the bent frame, and wasn't exactly fighting that, but the value was way too low. There is no way I could have replaced it with a similar car for that amount. I got some advice from a brand-specific car forum, and as a result I talked to the insurance company and said I thought it was too low a value, and my reasons. I told them I could document it and they said to drop off what I had, no promises, but they would look at it.

I got a loose leaf notebook and some of those clear pocket pages, and put all my maintenance and improvement receipts in in chronological order. The first page was a typed summary of the life of the car, plus what I had done (so the receipts were just proof, but they could see it all at a glance on the first page). I printed a photo of the car I had taken at a scenic overlook and inserted that into the clear cover of the notebook. Then I dropped it off at the insurance company HQ in town (not my agent).

Without any more fuss they changed the offer to $3600. I accepted that, bought the car back for $85, spent around $500 making it functional again, and drove it for another 100,000 miles. Not that I "got away with anything," because it was a bit crumpled, all the doors didn't work quite right, and I would gladly have returned the money in exchange for turning back the clock and having it never happen and still having my pristine car. Anyway, the main thing is that I spent a couple of hours making a nice documentation package and they immediately adjusted the value to one I thought was fair. Not that I wouldn't rather have had my original car and no settlement, but that wasn't possible.

I'm so sorry to hear what happened. Glad you are okay, but I'd be shattered at losing my wonderful rig. I hope you get a fair settlement and maybe your next SMB can at least have some "if I did it again" improvements to reduce the sting.
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Old 11-02-2014, 08:02 PM   #9
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Re: Totaled Sportsmobile?

It would seem that the easiest thing to do would be to find comparable vehicle sales (used) and compile them as proof of valuation. Sportsmobile has current and previously sold SMBs on their website. That's a good place to start.
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Old 11-09-2014, 09:06 PM   #10
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Re: Totaled Sportsmobile?

Thanks to all that replied; some good advice.

My SM is totaled - the frame is bent in the passenger rear side and it seems that is enough. I'm negotiating price now, and I did get organized and put together a good history of what I had put in to the vehicle, comps, etc. so we'll see where this lands.

But even if I get a decent check, it doesn't seem good enough. I want MY SM back - I've never felt so upset about losing a vehicle. So many great memories and the van was customized for our family - the only way I can replace that is to build another, and given that both Sprinter and SM costs have gone up over the past 6 years, I'm not sure I want to fork over a bunch more money that what I already had in to my current SM.

They are offering to sell me the salvaged vehicle, similar to what Viva posted, and it's tempting [although at $12K + whatever it's going to cost to get it un-bent and running, it could get expensive for a salvaged vehicle. BUT the interior is perfect. What do people think? Is it worth bringing a salvaged SM back to life? The frame damage looks minor to me - just a bit crumpled at the corner; it doesn't look like it affects anything functionally, and I'm told that it can be reinforced to be safe...

I'll try adding some photos to my gallery.

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