How Much is it to Buy Back a Totaled RV From Insurance?


If you have ever totaled an RV you know the headache it can be when dealing with insurance. But some people aren’t even aware of the option to buy back their RV after it has been deemed totaled by the insurance company.

How much is it to buy back a totaled RV from insurance? Typically, when an RV is totaled, the insurance company will turn it over to a salvage yard where it is auctioned for parts. Some companies will sell the RV back to you instead, so you can have the RV fixed, but the total cost will depend on the condition of the vehicle, repairs, and additional salvage costs.

When navigating the process of buying back your RV there are some key things to be aware of.

To be sure you receive the proper amount for the RV, you’ll want to do your research ahead of time and make sure you understand the laws in your state, as well as the rules laid out by your insurance company for buybacks.

How is the Amount for the Buyback Determined?

The amount you have to buy the vehicle back for will be determined by a few different factors. Right off the bat, you are going to have a better chance of it being sold back to you if the car is over 10 years old.

Insurance companies know that those parts can be a bit trickier to unload at an auction than newer parts will be.

Some of the factors that go into the cost are:

  • Condition of the RV

Specifically, the condition of many of its major operating parts. If many of the most expensive elements of the RV are non-functional, the cost will be significantly lower.

But if things like the transmission and engine are still in working condition, you may be looking at a higher price.

The buyback amount is also known as the “salvage value”. This is essentially the amount that the insurance company would expect to get from a salvage yard so that they can put it up for auction.

  • Original Value of the RV

Like with cars or any other type of vehicle insurance, the original value of the RV may play into the insurance equation if it is totaled. If you purchase the RV directly from a dealer, they may offer you “GAP insurance”.

This insurance is the additional peace of mind if your RV is totaled, but the value of the vehicle is lower than what you still may owe on it.

For more information on GAP insurance, you can check out the Insurance Information Institute.

When insurers decide if a car needs to be totaled or not, they will look at the value of the car vs the cost of repairs. Once that decision is made, the gap insurance may end up being beneficial for you, but these are in rare circumstances.

Knowing the original value of your RV, how much it may have depreciated, and the current value of the RV will help you navigate the maze that is, dealing with insurance companies.

  • Parts, Maintenance, and Repairs vs Value

You always want to see an itemized breakdown of services, parts, and labor fees or any other additional charges. These are the numbers that the insurance company will use to determine if it is worth having the RV fixed vs having it totaled.

If the costs of repairs outweigh the value of the RV, it will most likely be totaled. So, when you ask the question “How much is it to buy back a totaled RV from my insurance company”, the variables go far beyond just the type of RV you have or the current condition it is in.

They will also be looking at different ways to finagle the final numbers. A good insurance company will exhaust all options and make sure they are getting the best deal for you on parts and labor.

The Process of Buying Back the RV

As you go through the process you will see that underneath all the insurance jargon and confusing terms for parts and services you may have never heard of, you will see that it’s not as confusing or scary as you think.

The main things to understand about the value of your buyback will be in the details of the repair itself and the value of your RV. Understanding safety regulations is also a big piece of the totaling process.

Even if the RV could be resurrected and be driven again, the question is, “Can it be driven safely?”

If they decide that there are too many safety concerns because the damage was too great to make proper repairs, then the vehicle will need to be totaled.

Make sure you know everything about your RV when you take it in to be appraised. Every feature adds up to a different dollar amount for the final tally. Here are some important things to know about your RV for insurance purposes.

  • Model, year, and trim
  • Any additional features or aftermarket parts you had installed, and their value
  • Current mileage

Once the insurer appraises the damage and value of the RV, they will have a garage give an estimate on the repair costs. After the final numbers are presented for the repairs and the value, the insurer will be able to make an educated decision on if it can be fixed safely or if it needs to be totaled.

If it needs to be totaled, they will alert you and explain your options. If a buyback is on the table, they will calculate the salvage value of the RV.

All insurance companies have their format for this. But their main goal in this exercise is to get the most accurate estimate of what they would make on the RV at auction in a salvage yard.

They will typically look at past auctions of similar salvaged vehicles as well as disposing costs that may be associated with it. This could mean towing services or any other transportation costs associated with getting it to salvage.

They will then need to subtract those costs and your deductible from the actual cash value of the vehicle, or ACV. That number will be the amount given to you in a buyback of your RV.

Restrictions for Insurance Buybacks

Keep in mind that insurance buybacks for RVs are subject to local laws and regulations. It can also depend on the insurer and if they offer this option. So, always do your homework when researching companies, and be sure to know your state’s laws.

What to Know After Buying Back a Totaled RV

If you decide to keep the totaled vehicle and have it repaired, you will want to make sure you have a trustworthy garage ready to take on the task at the budget that makes sense, based on the money you received back from the RV.

You will also want to consider the fact that the title of the RV will now include a “total” record. This means that if you choose to sell the RV in the future, it will show up in the history of the vehicle to potential buyers.

Buying Back Your Totaled RV From Insurance

An RV is a huge investment, so it makes sense for RV owners to want to try and keep their beloved vehicles however possible. If you discover from your insurance company that you have the option, and the numbers make sense for you, it’s a great way to hold onto it even after extreme damage.

The costs will always depend on the value of the vehicle, the cost of repairs and labor, and your deductible as well as any other additional fees that the insurance company has to consider for the salvage.

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Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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