What Happens When a Renter Damages Your RV?
GoLifers know our RVs are the source of amazing adventures, of family memories that will last a lifetime. They're also moving vehicles. And moving vehicles hit things, and get hit by things.
We've had loads of bugs hit the windshield, and sadly, at least a bird or two. But no fender-benders to speak of in more than two years of touring the country. Turns out, our Travato Roxanne's first major trip to the body shop wasn't of our making. We occasionally rent the RV out using Outdoorsy, and one of those rentals went slightly awry a couple of months ago.
The renter brought Roxanne back late at night after a weekend trip with his son. As we were going over his experience with the RV, he mentioned he'd hit a large rock at a campground and caused some body damage. He wanted to make sure I knew about it, and would follow Outdoorsy's protocol for getting it fixed.
Roxanne's first scars
Minor damage. Definitely driveable, not even noticeable from a distance. But irksome. Luckily for us, there's an amazing family-owned body shop just a few minutes from our house. Two generations of owners know our RV from replacing a door handle and other minor work. They were ready with a knowing smile and an estimate in pretty short order.
Scrapes were pretty light, yes. But they actually covered three different areas and would require removing the trim and the sliding door to fix. And there was one more hurdle: at 9-1/2 feet tall, the Travato wouldn't fit in the paint booth. The solution would be to paint in the main body shop on a Saturday, when all of the other vehicles would be out.
The body shop needed about a week and $1,700 to do the work. Trouble was, we had another rental and a holiday coming up. So, we needed to wait a few weeks, and to send out a less-than-perfect RV on that second rental.
The insurance claim process
Meanwhile, the process of extracting my $1,700 was tedious at best. Outdoorsy touts its insurance package - up to $1 million, with no cost to the owner of the RV - as a tremendous advantage in the marketplace. But our claim came at a time when Outdoorsy was swapping its insurance vendor. There was no clear guide as to what exactly would happen and when. This meant multiple phone calls and emails. Eventually, I managed to text in photos of the damage and all four sides of the van to the new vendor, and finally got a check in the mail. But the check was for the amount of the claim, minus $750.
Outdoorsy holds a $750 security deposit for all of our rentals, and I figured out that I needed to claim the renter's deposit to make up the difference. But I also imposed a cleaning fee, so Outdoorsy's staff had to manually change the amount after another email. And lastly, the company charges 2.5% for credit card processing on claimed security deposits - something I hadn't been told prior to this. So, I was out about $30 on an insurance claim that was supposed to cost me nothing. Until I complained and got a credit.
The next renter was sympathetic about the damage, and we got Roxanne in for the repair shortly after she came back. The body shop did an outstanding job. There's no way to tell anything was amiss in the first place, and they even washed it for me.
So, in the end, I got a newly-restored passenger side of my RV and a free car wash for a few hours of frustration. Could have been a lot worse. There was no way to predict human error from a driving record or a quick chat with a potential renter, so we've been thinking a lot about the whole rental experience and whether it's worth it.
We only have one rental left on the calendar for the year so far, so the jury is still out on that. But, we learned a lot from this experience. If you are planning to rent out your RV, make sure you know what an insurance claim will entail if damage does occur and be prepared to be without your rig for longer than you may expect.