It happens to almost everyone sooner or later. Vandals break into your vehicle and damage, destroy, or steal whatever they think is valuable. Recently my motor home was vandalized. Damages came to just over $2,300, with a $500 deductible that meant the insurance company reimbursed me $1,800 for the damage.
It’s your right to have your vehicle repaired anywhere you choose. Once the insurance company pays you off, you can go to any company you choose to have the work done. Of course, your going to be short when it comes to paying the bill because the deductible means $500 of the money will be coming out of your own pocket.
If you choose, you could just leave the vehicle in it’s damaged condition, though beyond loosing resale value, and being stuck with looking at the damage, there is yet another disadvantage. The insurance company will reduce the value of the vehicle in the event it is damaged again in another incident. They won’t pay for the same damage twice unless you had the damage repaired.
To avoid this situation, you might consider doing some of the repair work yourself. If you are of a skill level that some of the easier repairs are within your capabilities, you can quickly recoup the deductible required to return your vehicle to original condition. After all, often the most expensive part of a repair is the labor involved.
Even the parts required can often be purchased cheaper over the Internet than if the repair shop bought them through his distributor. Don’t forget repair shops add a hefty percentage to any parts they sell as part of their profit for the repair work.
As an example, in my case the dash mounted AM/FM/CD radio was removed from the dashboard with the vandals foot being the tool of choice. The bezel around the radio was badly cracked as it was ripped loose and of course the radio was taken.
Not only did the radio need to be replaced, this being a 10 year old motor home, the damaged dashboard pieces are no longer available. The estimated cost of making this repair (a small portion of the total damage) amounted to multiple hundreds of dollars with no guarantee the repair would cosmetically match the original installation.
I choose to undertake this repair myself, knowing I would likely be more satisfied with the outcome if I did the work.
The original radio was a Panasonic equipped with a remote control that I never had. I bought the RV used and as is the case with used RV’s remote controls get lost or stolen while they sit on the dealers lot. The radio itself was push button controlled with tiny little buttons. Trying to do simple tasks, like changing the volume, while driving was practically impossible. Because of the radio being extremely operator unfriendly, it was seldom used. For all practical purposes I could just fashion a blank panel and eliminate the radio all together.
Instead I did some research on the Internet and found a Pioneer model that looked to be easier to operate. Walmart carried the radio in their store for a price of about $90. Instead I ordered it on line, delivered to my house in a matter of days, for $75. See what I mean by mark up, even Walmart wants their cut.
By carefully disassembling the damaged dash panel, labeling heater controls, and identifying wires so I could get it back together, I repaired the original panel. Gorilla Glue, combined with a couple wood reinforcements on the back side, restored the panel to one piece with the only visible defect being a hairline seam from gluing the crack. From 5 feet away you can’t tell it was ever damaged.
I still had the original manual for the stolen radio making it a simple matter to cross match the wiring for connecting the new radio. Keep those manuals, they’re gold when it comes to figuring out the wiring.
The end result is I have a brand new AM/FM/CD radio that is easier to use than the original. It also came with a remote control so I now can turn down the volume while sitting at the kitchen table. Something I couldn’t do before. Also the original radio was wired to only operate when the motor was running. I changed this so we can enjoy the Saturday evening stories of Lake Wobegon Minnesota, as narrated by Garrison Keillor, while we play cribbage at the kitchen table and watch the loons out on the lake.
Making lemonade when the world gives you lemons means I have a better radio than before and was able to apply the savings toward the deductible for the other repairs. When it’s all said and done there will be no money out of my pocket to undo what young vandals choose to do.