What to Do If You're in an RV Accident

A breakdown of what to do during and after an RV accident

RV accident
••• An RV accident is something every RVer comes face-to-face with at some point on the road. Noel Hendrickson/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Accidents are a way of life on the road. Whether you’re traveling to work, going on vacation, or are riding in a passenger seat, at some point in life you’ll be involved in a car accident. The same is true when RVing. When RVing, there are few things scarier than being in an accident that you’ll experience on the road. Our guide will explain what to do during and after an RV accident to ensure you, your family, and your RV are ready for your next adventure.

Check on Yourself and Your Passenger

  • After your vehicle and/or RV come to a stop, check on yourself and your passengers. Make sure everyone is okay and can exit the vehicle or trailer.
  • If you can exit, do so; if not, call 911 and wait for help to arrive.
  • Do not attempt to move anyone who is injured from your vehicle or trailer unless they are in immediate danger, such as a fuel leak, a fire, or smoke.

Check on Anyone Else Involved in Accident

  • Once everyone is okay on your end, if you haven’t already called 911 or the police, do so. Even for a minor RV accident, call the police to assist as you to either get back on the road or be towed due to the size of RVs and trailers.
  • If other vehicles are involved, check on everyone else involved in the accident and render assistance if necessary/possible.

Move Your Vehicle and/or RV to Side of Road

  • If you can move your vehicle and/or RV to the side of the road, do so; if you’re not sure if it’s safe to do so, don’t. If your vehicle is towing a trailer, do not attempt to move the RV to the side of the road in any circumstance as you don’t know the condition of your hitch and could lose your trailer in the process.
  • Wait for the police or emergency vehicles to arrive on the side of the road or shoulder whenever possible. If you’re carrying propane, gasoline, or any other fuel outside your RV, make sure to put a fair amount of distance between you and the RV while waiting for help to arrive.
  • Turn on your safety lights or have warning triangles or flares in your vehicle, place them out to make others aware of the accident.

Make Sure to Exchange Information and Document Everything

You can exchange vehicle and insurance information with others involved before or after the police arrive on the scene. Make sure to write down as much information about the accident as possible and take pictures if it’s safe to do so. Take pictures of your RV, your vehicle, and other vehicles involved in the accident. Draw diagrams, use your insurance’s smartphone app and make note of even the smallest detail where possible to refer to later.

Call Your Insurance Agent Before You Leave the Scene

Make sure to call your insurance agent if possible before you leave the scene of the accident. They will be able to give you advice and information you may have forgotten due to being in an accident.

Follow the Insurance Claims Process from Your Agent

The insurance claims process for an RV accident will vary from when you file a claim for your car or other vehicles. Depending on the cause of the accident, the type of damage involved, and whether anybody was hurt or not will determine how your insurance agent handles the claims on both sides. Work with your insurance agent from start to finish to determine the right course of action on what to file, what you’ll pay out of pocket, and the steps you’ll need to follow for a successful insurance claim.

Take Your Vehicle and RV in for an Inspection

Make sure a reputable mechanic or service center inspects your vehicle and/or RV as soon as possible. Whether it’s towed there from the scene or you take it there the next day, the sooner you can verify the damage done inside and outside, the sooner you can provide that information to your insurance agent to get claims coverage started.

Pro Tip: Just because you can’t see or identify damage to your RV or towing vehicle yourself doesn’t mean it’s not there. Don’t delay taking your RV in for an inspection because you think nothing is wrong. If you delay, you may not be able to get insurance to cover the issues in your accident claim.

Have Your Hitch Inspected and/or Replaced

Depending on the type of accident and how your RV responded to it, you want to have your entire hitch system inspected and possibly replaced. Hitches aren’t meant to take the type of punishment an accident often brings, so it may bend, break, crack, or otherwise have its integrity weakened. A weakened hitch can lead to trailer sway or loss of a trailer on the road, so it’s imperative this is checked out and replaced if necessary before your next road trip.

Can You Avoid an RV Accident?

Avoiding an RV accident, like a car accident, isn’t foolproof. At some point, something you do, something beyond your control, or something somebody else does may cause an accident. If you’re RVing, this can be scarier than you imagine because you’re either driving an over-sized vehicle or you’re towing something attached to your primary vehicles. Sharpening your RV driving and towing skills, following the rules of the road, and being aware of your surroundings are excellent ways to do what you can to prevent an RV accident.

In the event you’re in an RV accident at some point during your travels, the number one tip I can give you is this: Take a deep breath, stay as calm as possible, and follow the above tips to ensure your safety, recover your RV, and get back on the road as soon as possible.