RV hail damage is a concern, especially in parts of the country like Texas where hailstones are large and there can be several hailstorms over the space of a few months.
Hail can cause major or minor damage to an RV, camper, or trailer. The things to look for after a hailstorm has passed will vary depending partly on the exterior materials.
RV Hail Damage
RV hail damage regularly leads to insurance claims (manufacturer warranties exclude hail damage cover).
A good number of RV insurers cover roof damage because it’s fairly common and often difficult to avoid for RV owners. However, that’s not always the case.
Filing a Claim vs. Not Filing One
When not claiming for damage caused by one hailstorm but then receiving additional hail damage to the RV in a subsequent storm, that creates confusion for insurers.
The insurance claim assessor won’t easily be able to ascertain what damage occurred from which storm, and if damage from the first storm weeks or months prior that perhaps went unrepaired… led to water ingress and other damage in the follow-up one.
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Speak to Your RV Insurance Company
If in doubt, it’s always a good idea to discuss the hail damage with your RV insurance company.
They can at least keep a record of the conversation, as should you. Take digital photos that are in high-resolution to enable zooming into them, and record video too. This way, at least you can confirm what damage occurred when because the photos and video are data stamped.
Multiple Insurance Claims on the Same Camper, Trailer, or RV
Once a claim is made for hail damage to your camper, trailer, or RV, this usually precludes making a subsequent claim for new damage from hail in another storm.
It is not always the case that the RV insurer will refuse to cover the cost of repairing the hail damage but it’s quite likely. Therefore, before making a claim, discuss this with your insurer to clarify first.
Hail Damage on Camper
When parking your camper overnight, sheltering from a storm inside it, hear the impactful pop.. pop.. pop.. of hail hitting the roof, front, and sides of your camper, you cannot do anything to prevent it.
Come the morning, it’s time to see if you’ve got a hail damage camper on your hands, or not.
Repairing hail damage on a camper depends on the building materials and what is broken. For instance, one of the RV skylights could be damaged from hail. An AC unit could be impacted, or at a minimum, the protruding metal fins require bending back into position or that part replaced. Paintless dent repair might be a possibility to remove dents from metal without needing to respray it.
Also, the RV roof could easily be damaged too and let water inside the camper. It may need drying out using a dehumidifier.
Hail Damage on Fiberglass Camper
A fiberglass camper is a particular concern with hail damage.
While fiberglass is a toughened building material for a camper, peppering it with a hard flying object like hail is going to leave a mark. A series of rock-hard icy hail landing on it is going to cause considerable hail damage to the fiberglass camper.
Even if it had a cover over it, that won’t have likely protected it due to the irregular shape of hail, the velocity, and its hardness too.
There are ways to repair RV fiberglass. An RV fiberglass roof repair is possible to take out the dents using epoxy, or an RV filler. It’s an involved process, but minor damage can be repaired that way.
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Fixing up damage to the side walls can sometimes use a similar technique to roof repairs too.
Hail Damage to Aluminum Trailer
An aluminum trailer is no less at risk in a hailstorm.
Hail damage to an aluminum trailer is going to possibly require replacing aluminum siding with new sheets after they’ve been thoroughly peppered in a hailstorm that went sideways on.
RV aluminum roof damage is more substantial as an issue. It will be necessary to inspect the roof, especially the roof fixtures such as AC units, roof vents, aerials, and other points of potential water intrusion.
Look for damage to the metal roofing materials, and also the fixtures too. Again, it’s possible to use bonding agents and to reseal the metal roof for the future. If you’re unsure what to do, perhaps a specialist is needed that’s experienced with hail damage to aluminum.
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Travel Trailer Hail Damage
Most travel trailers are quite valuable and hold residual value too.
Even with travel trailer hail damage, once fixed up, they should retain most of their value. However, when not fixing the damage caused, then their value could decline by 20-25% quite easily.
A similar repair process can be conducted using bonding agents and other repair materials depending on the damage.
Most travel trailers can be repaired as new when done right.
RV Hail Damage Repair Near Me
With some storm damage, it is too large of a job for one person. If you lack the skills or tools to perform the repairs, then you may need to look for an RV hail damage repair near me.
A search in Google should pull up the nearest RV workshops that look right for completing repairs after a hailstorm. If they’re any good, then right after a storm, you’ll discover that they’re booked up solid for a week, or more. So, you may need to be patient and keep the RV under a cover, to protect from water penetration, until it can fit you in.
It’s also a good idea to ask if they perform paintless dent repair work too if your RV has metal panels.
Also, be sure to verify whether the RV workshop has worked with the same materials before – fiberglass, aluminum, etc. This is because some of the repair techniques are necessarily different. Being skilled on one type doesn’t always translate to other types too. Choosing well will help to get a better final finish after the repair work.
How to Protect RV from Hail Damage
Most RV owners who travel through or live in a state that experiences regular hailstorms wish to protect their RV from hail.
The reality is that the best way to do so is to put the RV or camper in storage or a garage lock-up. The second-best approach is to park it under cover even if it’ll still be outside. Using the protection of a building to limit the exposure may protect one side but leave the remainder exposed.
Using an RV cover can protect from water damage on the roof because the water pools on the cover and not the roof. If the RV roof is damaged in the storm, that could stop the water from reaching the damaged section. However, an RV cover will not prevent hailstones from creating impact markings.
Also, while putting a series of thick blankets under an RV cover might help to soften the impact of hailstones on a roof, it won’t stop it entirely. It cannot be easily done on the sides of the camper or trailer either. Furthermore, the more violent the storm., the likelier that the blankets will be dislodged along with the cover too.
Should I Buy a Hail Damaged RV?
Buying a camper with hail damage is debatable.
Certainly, there are many hail damaged campers for sale after storms. RV dealerships may offer 30% off the usual sticker price in exchange for taking a dented camper off their hands.
RV Insurance Worries Even with a Comprehensive Policy
With prior hail damage, no insurance claim can be made on your policy because the damage was done before your period of ownership. Furthermore, if the camper should go through additional hail damage in another storm in the future, making a successful insurance claim is going to be very difficult indeed.
Discerning what happened when proving that the previous damage had no material effect on the new damage (or any water intrusion resulting from it) may be an uphill battle.
Fiberglass Damage is Particularly Troubling
When there’s hail damage on a fiberglass camper, that’s even more troubling.
Fiberglass is strong and the structure could be fine, but it will be difficult to repair it to a like-new condition unless considerable work is put into it.
Unseen or Unknown Damage
Buying a camper with pre-existing hail damage either as new or used presents many additional risks.
Are the roof or side walls only cosmetically damaged, or are they damaged below the surface that you cannot see? Are there bubbles on the roofing membrane suggesting water intrusion beneath the protective roofing layer? Also, visible dimples on the interior walls are highly suggestive of a moisture problem that could lead to mold and mildew later.
Were the AC units impacted and will become problematic performers in the future? Are the AC fins dented? This is a good sign that hail hit the AC units on the roof.
The windscreen could have been hit, held up, but is structurally weakened. In which case, a few months later, it could begin to crack when sustaining another light impact.
Dealing with the potential issues that could continue to crop up as the result of purchasing a hail-damaged camper might not be worth it for a 30% discount on the purchase price. You just don’t know what’s lurking beneath or will go wrong later.
Also, making a successful insurance claim is more complicated because the insurer will have to weigh up whether the previous damage was a contributing factor and refuse the claim (where they would have approved it for a camper without any previous hail damage).
Hail damage has the potential to cause enough problems with a camper, trailer, or RV that it needs significant repairs. When the damage goes beyond merely the cosmetic to where water got inside, then that likely happened during the storm. At that point, you’re dealing not just with repairing the damaged materials, but also roof or internal moisture issues too. There’s a risk of mold or mildew growth in the future if these are not resolved promptly and any access point repaired before more rain comes.
Purchasing a hail damaged trailer, camper, or RV is one way to reduce the initial outlay. However, it needs to be thoroughly inspected to look for any damage to roofing, siding, doors, the windscreen, and windows, along with any roof fixtures too. Additionally, there’s a risk of damage beneath the surface that you cannot see or totally ruled out.
Also, do consider the implications of RV insurance for hail damage. Usually, only one claim can be made for it. Damage through subsequent storms becomes difficult to substantiate and clarify what happened and when. When buying a hail damaged camper, a future claim could get muddled with how past hail damage may have affected the ability of the RV to withstand a storm. Claims can be refused because clarification wasn’t possible.