Thursday, August 14, 2014

Insurance Company wants to total out my van.

I sideswiped a concrete post in a parking lot and bent 3 of the four hinges on my side doors.  The pillars the hinges were welded to were slightly bent inward, less than 1".  For this, the insurance company is totaling out my van.  I got this message from them late afternoon (8/14):

"Ms. Swankie, I spoke with Kirmac as well as our staff Property Damage Specialist and they have advised me that due to the amount of damage sustained from this loss, that your vehicle is a total loss. This is the reason we have not received the final estimate from Kirmac because the shop needs to complete a thorough inspection to determine the full extent of the damage and potential costs of parts and labor. Once we receive the finalized total loss estimate, a representative from our total loss department will be in contact with you about the next steps. Regards,  __________.

Then, this morning (8/15) I get this message from Insurance Co. - "Your vehicle has been inspected, and the appraiser is determining whether it is repairable. We'll share the appraisal results soon."

It's like the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.  I want to scream.

Dang it!   I should have stayed in California.

Luckily I was near friends who for some strange reason like me enough to help me get through this, but my heart is broken over my un-SwankieWheels.

The post is almost a foot away from the curb, not in line with the previous post the camera is sitting on top of and a real hazard.  I am not the first person to leave marks on this post.  By the way, the coating on the post was not cut through????  And the plastic totally my van pulling away from a dead stop at a very slow speed?????    Stay far far away from concrete post, covered in plastic, that are in parking lots or in gas stations.  They DO NOT yield.


  1. my dear friend I am so sorry! What is the next step are you covered with enough insurance to purchase a new van? if they total it out will they allow you to buy it back? I know my son did that with his truck when they totaled it. I will pray that you get very good answers my friend!

  2. Most likely if it's totaled, you can buy the van from the insurance co for pennies on the dollar, maybe $1500 - 2000, and still keep the check for full van replacement. A body shop can at least make repairs so the doors are functional, if you can live with the small dents and scrapes.

    I like insurance damage on my vehicles, had something blow off a truck trailer I was passing on the highway and it smashed my windshield and part of my pass door. Got the windshield replaced for $200, and got a check for $1600 on top of that. Not fixing the little dings in my door. Just transportation, right?


    Bigfoot in TX

    1. Bigfoot, you are right, I could live with the dings. When I dropped the van off at the shop, I could close and lock the side doors. They have now sprung them open so far, I can no longer close them. And even when I could close them there was a large gap and doors would not seal. Not good for Vandwellers. Now shop has the rear bumper off and the front door off and some other parts they had no business taking off, so if I buy it back, I can't drive it off the lot. I don't care about the dings, but the doors are badly bent and need to be replaced. The hinges are also badly bent and most likely need to be replaced. Someone else suggested just putting a solid panel on the side, but I need to be able to have and use side doors. This is very overwhelming to me.

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  4. The shop had to take the ft door off to see the damage to the hing pillar. They took the rear bumper off because they were going to paint the side panel. Doors for that van are all over the country used and are most likely painted white.Ft door should cost around 250.00 while the ft side door should be around 175.00. the rear bumper is a bolt on piece that would go back on very easily.

  5. The insurance company ended up totaling out my van and I bought it back and had it repaired to my satisfaction, about $7,000 cheaper than what they said it would cost. I'm not happy about having damaged my van, but am grateful to have it back and be back out in the wild living out of it. Guess I will never understand insurance companies. It's just not logical.


Who is Swankie?

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Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
Visit me on In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles in Spring 2017. In training now for the hike.