By Dave B.
It is best to do your homework
In the last two posts I went over my choice on a new off road vehicle that would take me on excursions into the wilderness in practicality, style, and overall comfort. I had finally decided on the Sportsmobile Company located 90 miles away, so it was time to sit down and look over SMBís plans and brochures. I had to make an estimate on how much I was going to spend and what I could afford. I also had to look into the financing and get an idea how much insurance would cost me. There is no sense having a vehicle like this if you canít afford to put it on the road. It would be foolish to pay 100K for a vehicle that sits most of the year. Renting a vehicle would be cheaper in the long run, not to mention the maintenance alone. SMB requires you to buy or put down a deposit on the van itself when you order it. If you plan to buy a vehicle MAKE A PHONE CALL TO SMB AND DISCUSS THE PROCEDURE. What I did was to put down a minimum deposit and paid for the van when it came in. I had the 32K (the price of the van) in an account ready for SMB when they requested it. Then I prepared several loan rates on the total conversion (what the loan would cost me in the end) that fit my budget. ANOTHER PRIORITY THATíS REQUIRED; YOU NEED TO HAVE THE VEHICLE INSURED BEFORE YOU CAN DRIVE IT AWAY. I called several insurance companies and found a wide spread among the companies. My driving record was squeaky clean, and even though I drive Class A vehicles, prices varied. I soon found this was a confusing issue. Apparently there is some reluctance to insure van conversions as RVís. One big selling point for me was that insurance was supposed to be cheaper on a RV than a standard vehicle. But prices changed from agent to agent even within the same company. Going on line to the SMB user groups did help a little, but many times I found what others advised me on was something I could not get. My personal agent (State Farm) gave me a quote that rattled my bones. They said it was impossible to compete with companies that deal with RVís only. OK, I went on line and started looking and soon found quite a few willing to take me on. I got quotes, phone numbers, and addresses. I did not like dealing with companies I have never heard of, especially if they were out of state. Did they even exist? If I totaled the vehicle could I depend on them to deliver? And what if I broke down in the back country, would they come get me? Well I never did find an insurance company that will pick you up in the back country. If there is one out there, I would like to know. The premiums varied widely with each company. The worst brick wall I encountered was, to many insurance companies, a toilet and black water tank were require to classify a van as an RV. I planned to have the standard amenities, shore power hookup, refrigerator, sink, hot water, shower, sleeping quarters, microwave (stove), D/C-A/C power inverter, and a gray water holding tank. I figured that a Porta Potti would cover the head portion, but there were qualms about this. Was this because it could be removed? If you think about it, most any of these items could be removed if you put your mind to it. This toilet thing varied from agent to agent, and even company to company, so excuse me, it pissed me off! I called around and put the crapper question to all of the carriers that sparked my interest. Geico, Progressive, and Foremost gave me some higher quotes but would not give me a definite answer on the head issue. State Farm and AAA said no way; it had to have a permanently mounted marine toilet. This is strange because several SMB owners have stated that some of these companies cover them with no problems and they have porta pottieís. Maybe I got an agent or agent assistant that did not know what he or she was talking about. REMEMBER, JUST BECAUSE THE AGENT SAYS YOU ARE COVERED, AFTER AN ACCIDENT, THINGS MIGHT CHANGE! This is no time to try to get a cheaper rate by misleading or being misled by anyone. Good Sam was the best to deal with but on the high side also. Then I found a company called Explorer RV. Great quote over the phone as well as a written estimate sent to me by mail. I called them several times during the vans construction, keeping in touch and updating them on changes in design while it was being built. OK letís jump to the delivery date. Two days before my delivery date, I called to reserve a rental car and phoned Explorer to inform them I would be on my way to pick up the van. Everything was looked good until the day I was to leave. Crap, rental car problems. After a long and upsetting argument with Enterprise, I was finally off to Fresno my head pounding with frustration and excitement. Then low and behold, when I called Explorer from SMB to give them the VIN # and my money, the premium jumped way up in price. On top of that the agent also said they (Explorer) would not comply with the full replacement value clause that I insisted on. I was in a pinch and ready to chew some butt. I asked for the agent who I had been in touch with for the last 4 months and was told she no longer worked there. This is unacceptable and Explorer RV didnít even care. So moral of the story, HAVE SOME BACKUP PLANS! Most people donít go through this but I did. Thank God I had those backups. I pulled out my file I took along and found the Good Sam (GMAC) quote through Camping World. All I could hope for was driving away with a good company covering me. I didnít have time to do the necessary research, so there was a big jump of faith thing going on here. Kind of scary considering I just got burned. Camping World/Good Sam had my information on hand and within 30 minutes I was rockin and Rollin, well almost Rollin. SMB had a little problem with my front lockers, one of those issues I talked about in the previous posting. Heber, Randy and Leo did a little OT to get me on the road, but later I would have to return to finally fix the bug, but I am getting off the subject here. It got fixed.
As far as the financing, I went through my Credit Union without any problems. The only problem was using the van as a tax write off. Rather that go through the van vs. RV thing again, (the Feds also seem to have an issue with the crapper on what constitutes an RV) I just did a second against some property I own, and this was done well in advance of the pickup date.
The day started off with a headache because of a rental car company, a short drive that took forever, an upset stomach due to a lousy insurance company, mixed feeling being overwhelmed during the walk around, and a feeling of doom because I thought I wouldnít be driving my new toy home. With a lot of self conscience cussing and a verbal prayer it was over. I was on the road. I made it home exhausted.
Do your homework!
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