Insurance: How Do I Get Adequate Coverage for My Westy?

The following write-up is an article that addresses the common concern of adequate coverage for campers that are worth many thousands more than most insurance firms are aware of.

We get this question all the time, along with lots of phone calls from folks who have had a loss and are getting screwed by their insurance company. Here is what I know about insurance and my experience.

There are some companies that will insure for "agreed value" or "stated value," and require an appraisal to back up the value. They require the appraisal to protect themselves from fraud. That is, from a person taking out a mega-million dollar insurance policy on a junker, torching it, and collecting insurance. The appraisal requirement makes these policies difficult to obtain, and when obtained tends to make them quite expensive. My insurance company, Liberty Mutual, does not offer stated value policies.

I own a 1961 Porsche 356 Cabriolet for which I keep a current appraisal in the case of a loss. With the Porsche, it was quite easy to get an appraiser to come up with an accurate value because these are well known vehicles and there are plenty of publications showing comparable vehicles from which to judge value. I have made my insurance company aware of the value of the vehicle, and have furnished them with a copy of the appraisal. The funny thing is that they just insure it as a regular car and charge me a pittance—as long as I agree to use it very little (not as a commuter vehicle, for instance). I have other modern cars that are worth much less, but cost much more to insure—probably because they are used much more, which means that the insurance company's exposure to possible loss is much greater.

Having an appraisal never hurts, but a good relationship with your insurance company is the most important component. I have been with Liberty Mutual for about 25 years. When my little '82 VW Rabbit Pickup was smashed ($5K worth of damage), and they originally were going to give me $800 for it. I was able to demonstrate, without an appraisal but instead using detailed documentation of what I had spent on it, that it was worth way more than that. Even still, all I got was $2500. Oh well, what are you going to do...?

In the case of your VW pop-top, you can use whatever documentation you have on what you have spent on it. You could also arm yourself with a GoWesty also offers an "Opinion of Value" report. While not technically an appraisal (GoWesty is not a licensed appraiser), this document shows details about your particular vehicle, examples of others like it that we have sold, and—most importantly—what GoWesty feels it is worth. How could any honest insurance company argue if you're so well-prepared? But that is the key: an honest insurance company.

So, the bottom line is to have a good relationship with your insurance company. Make every effort to notify them that your vehicle is worth more than they might think, and pay your bill on time. A GoWesty Opinion of Value Report (OVR) wouldn't hurt... But then again, you could just roll the dice and get that done at the time of a loss and hope for the best. If you are interested in a GoWesty Opinion of Value Report, please click the product link below.