Diminished Value decreases a bit while Total Loss Values Soar!
Diminished Value Claim severity is dropping, while total loss settlement values are increasing! The effects of high demand on the automobile market.
As chip shortages and high demand for used vehicles continue, I’ve seen a couple of trends.
1. Minor to moderate accident histories on a vehicle are less damaging to the re-sale value than has been the case prior to approximately April 2021.
2. Most of the auto claim industry’s preferred vendors for market valuation reports haven’t caught up to the increased prices on used vehicle.
These two trends have dramatically affected the distribution of the percentage of cases we handle that are either total loss cases or diminished value cases. Specifically, a lot more people are seeking out our assistance for appraisal clause help because they believe they are getting a “low-ball” offer on their recently totaled vehicle. Spoiler. . . . they are normally right in their belief.
Although we are now doing more appraisal clause work than diminished value work, diminished value has not disappeared, nor has the increase in demand for used vehicles eliminated the potential for an economically viable pursuit for diminished value recovery.
What we’re seeing is that instead of the typical reduction (for a prior collision and repair history) of between 18% – 25% (depending on make/model/market), dealers and individuals are willing to bear a bit more risk and the deduction for a prior collision and repair history is not as severe in this current market of high demand.
Diminished value won’t be going away, but the severity of it is less right now due to Covid. On the other hand, total loss payouts are on the rise.
If you have questions or need more information regarding this subject, feel free to reach out to us and we’ll do our best to make sure you get the information or help you need. Both of our forms are below for a free consultation whether you have a DV claim or a Total Loss you want to talk about!
Is Your Diminished Value Expert really an Expert, or just a good Salesman?
Over the years, I’ve seen multiple people who claim to be a “Diminished Value Expert” pop up and disappear. In fact, at least two of these purported experts have posed as customers or someone just pretending to want to collaborate with me, wanting me to help them “get into” doing diminished value claims. These people didn’t want to help; they wanted to make money off of something they thought was easy, and they wanted me to help them. They saw dollar signs, and they thought I could (or would) help them.
Fortunately, you can’t put nearly a quarter of a century of claims, litigation, and appraisal knowledge in their head to make them experts, no matter how bad they want to steal money from victims. When they couldn’t actually obtain my experience and knowledge without spending 23 plus years in the industry, they set out to steal my knowledge and began secretly copying my business model (I mean, some people are so lazy right?).
I kid you not, one of them told me (mind you, the only experience they had was what my informational website told them) that they will just fake it ‘til they make it, in so many words. It’s sad for me to admit, but indeed, they sell and market better than me. I seek truth and justice, not money. If you don’t believe me, ask my family. As of yet, I’m not rich (DAMNIT!), but I sleep well because I don’t make money my top priority. Many of my friends and family will tell you I’ve made stupid financial decisions. I agree. I don’t make decisions based on how much money the decision will make me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like being called stupid, but you know. . . Forrest Gump said it best, “Stupid is, as. . . “. You know the rest. I think it is stupid to trade your character for money. I have faith that the time I spend pouring my heart into this will continue to soothe my soul and pay my bills.
It’s very sad (and maddening) that accident victims and even some attorneys and insurance companies are fooled by marketing ploys (or maybe they enjoy the easy money it generates without regard to morals or ethics). Don’t get me wrong, great marketing is just that; great. But great marketing can’t have lies in it. I mean, I’m all for helping if you can, but if you can’t and only want money, don’t lie about being an expert and create disinformation and doubt as to what real experts are, you know? Damnit these guys piss me off. Experts don’t have to “sell” you. They really are experts, not salesmen or marketing specialists. I know, I know, one has to market, but not deceivingly, right?
Why I’m Writing This Blog
The “experts” that prompted this article and those that stole my time away from actual victims have now been in business for nearly two years (as of the time of this writing), and it’s solely because they mislead their potential customers with hype. They offer money back guarantees which causes the appraiser to have a financial interest in the claim. That’s not allowed for a real appraiser. Opposite of a true expert, they have never been challenged in court nor have they been vetted as an expert by somebody that actually IS an expert under the law.
These guys are the epitome of “fake it ‘til you make it”, but the problem is they will never make it, not really. They have to live with their lie. One can only fake being an expert until they meet a real expert. If you have an “expert” report from somebody you expect might be a scam artist (trust your gut), please send it to me and I will audit it for compliance with the actual appraisal standards that legally apply and help you get a refund from the crook. And, if it’s a real appraisal, then wow! I’ll probably seek that appraiser out as business partner!
If a report says it is compliant with the USPAP (UNIFORM STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL APPRAISAL PRACTICE), send it to me for verification, please! I will audit it for compliance and provide you with a report detailing the shortcomings to help you try to get your money back from the scam artist that fooled you (don’t be ashamed; attorneys, insurance companies and even Judges fall for fake experts all of the time).
The USPAP is the authority on appraisal standards in the U.S. I found this out in 1998 while researching a diminished value report from a fake expert. I exposed that very few “auto appraisers” actually used any appraisal standard, much less the formal standard approved by Congress in 1989.
Over 23 years of experience with auto claims best practices, appraisal and claims auditing, and genuinely applying real, legal, appraisal standards have astoundingly resulted in me finding VERY FEW expert appraisals that would pass a cross examination by me or any of the attorneys I work with, much less meet the actual legal standards for expert appraisals.
Need An Example?
Here’s a point in case; there is this “expert” who has been on the news, and fooled attorneys and judges into believing he is a real expert appraiser. It took a while, but eventually, he had to deal with me in an actual court case and ended up being deposed by a very diligent attorney. The attorney exposed that this expert certified himself and made up a “certification” program for “appraisers”. In fact, he admitted that he and a friend (neither of which had any experience with formal appraisal standards or litigation involving appraisals) certified themselves in a garage (and he was proud of that!). He could not intelligently answer questions about the formal appraising standards that are approved by Congress that he purported to use (his appraisal contained certifications that he abided by the rules LOL).
He even admitted that he wrote appraisals for himself and certified them that he had no interest in the property, UNDER OATH! He didn’t even know the section of the formal appraisal standards guide that applied to his purported expertise. No joke! This was in a formal deposition, and it was brutal (call me and ask for a copy of the depo, it’s public record). The claim settled after the deposition for very close to the amount that the real appraisal I produced reflected.
His program and certification are impossible to take as anything other than a joke if you have even cursory knowledge of the law regarding experts and the field of appraising value (not the same as damage “appraisers”; they are actually estimators of repair cost, not value). Truly. I have a copy of one of the “exams” he uses, and my young son could easily answer every question just based on the ridiculous answer selections. Because it is a multiple-choice test, all of the choices except the right answer are totally silly and clearly meant to ensure a passing grade. Here’s an actual example from the “test”:
#4. What instrument measures and registers the miles and tenths of miles the vehicle has been driven?
D. None of the above
No joke, that is a real question from the real test of the BOCAA (explained better a little below). Seriously, if you want a good laugh, just give me a call and I’ll share some of the other ridiculous test questions. Trust me, it would be hard to fail the BOCAA test. You can doooo it! if you want to be a fake expert appraiser, call jack of all trades, Roy Bent, and then hope I’m not on the opposing side at any trial, lol!
I want to stress that I have not altered anything or added or subtracted from the example question I presented. It is the exact question with the multiple-choice answers in the right order. Somebody that failed the BOCAA test (or even passed it, lol), would not be allowed to sweep my kitchen floor. I’m truly not sure that a smart Border Collie couldn’t pass it. It is seriously a ridiculous joke.
This “expert” makes money by marketing for diminished value on the internet and by “certifying” anybody that wants to pay him $500.00 as a full-fledged expert appraiser. His arrogance, sheer guile, and the way he revels in bullshitting and “getting over” on people is disgusting. I don’t market by hyping bull. Don’t get me wrong, I market, but I do it by providing truly relevant information, and actually knowing how to address the complicated issues that can arise in the course of a damage dispute (not to mention actually following real appraisal standards). I hope this article helps to prove that.
Back to this faker. . .
This guy is bold enough to try his luck in court, and he has unbelievably gotten away with it more than once (that train will come to the end of its tracks). He calls his association and certification the BOCAA (Bureau of Certified Auto Appraisers). Sadly, even some actual appraisers have been fooled into getting his certification. If you want to see how much of an expert the guy who is certifying these people really is, I again offer to provide you with the full transcript of the deposition that he got dragged into. It is a ridiculous, yet astounding, display of ignorance and willful deceit. His expertise is talking BS, and he’s proud of it. That’s it, point blank.
For insurance adjusters faced with a suspected fake appraisal, I’m a friend. Send the report to my office for a formal audit to expose the fraud. I’ve been a witness in court on both sides of the fence (for victims and for insurance companies).
Unfortunately, these frauds end up making some money by hyping up the idea of easy money to victims, and easy low settlements for carriers. Then they spew out the few lucky successes they’ve had, pay for good reviews, and hang their hat on the cases where they weren’t challenged. They use the few successes to lure new victims while forgetting about and ignoring the customers who have already been tricked into paying for their worthless report. They rely solely on their sales and marketing tactics to bring in new unsuspecting customers, but when the rubber meets the asphalt and the curtain is pulled back, they immediately cave-in and slink away as if nothing happened. One of them even had the nerve to ask me to take over cases that were “hard” when the carrier called them out! Sickening!
The best experts are the ones that don’t have to sell themselves. Ask around a LOT. Look for the truth. Don’t believe an internet salesperson that tells you they are an expert appraiser, not even if they claim to have a fancy certification or slick website. Ask them to do a conference call with you and me so you can evaluate their expertise and ask the right questions. I’ll bet they refuse. Look at their ACTUAL experience, education, and training (get a copy of their CV). Many of these fly-by-night experts even lie on their CV’s. These people will take your money and then tell you that you need an attorney and are on your own when the insurance company laughs at them. These scam artists will claim to have attorneys that use them and handle these cases, but mark my words, the attorneys that they claim to use are personal injury attorneys who do not actually handle the diminished value only cases. With an injury case, the attorney knows that if they tack on a fake/inflated DV claim, it can add some money to the bottom line because they can use the additional alleged DV damage to bolster the injury claim. Guess what? If you have an injury claim and an attorney, and if you qualify for DV, you’ll get some diminished value (but your injury settlement will be that much less). The insurance company sometimes throws a bit of diminished value money at these cases to get the injury settled without a suit. It’s pure economics, not because of a fake DV report. If you don’t have an injury, you’ll have a hard time finding an attorney to take on your DV claim.
If that’s the case for you and you only have a DV claim and no injury, then you’re not much of a threat to an insurance carrier. Insurance companies aren’t stupid. They know who the threats in the DV game are. They round table these claims and know which experts have good attorneys that will litigate just the property damage. There are very few real threats in the diminished value/auto appraisal arena.
What The “Experts” Will Tell You
Okay, so some people might be thinking that you can get any old report and just go to small claims court. You’d be right – and what other “experts” will tell you is that once you sue, the insurance company will “99%” of the time, settle. Don’t believe it! I’ve personally litigated 1000’s of small claims cases (as a claims recovery expert for insurance companies) and many of my customers try the pro-se small claims route. A large majority of the time, if you are pro-se (don’t have an attorney), the insurance company WILL show up and defend the claim, and they normally win. This is because they have practice arguing against these claims in court. No matter how smart I am or how much I try to teach you, you’ll either be up against an attorney or insurance company representative, and they’ll have more experience arguing these cases than you do and they know the rules of court better. The Judge probably knows them. Even with an impeccable appraisal from a real expert, it’s simply not possible to teach a person how to present the information persuasively, manage discovery, direct examine and cross examine witnesses, or understand voir dire or motions in limine, or on, and on, and on. I just can’t make a person an expert small claims litigator in the course of two or three months (which is the average time it takes for a stubborn claim to get from demand to settlement or suit).
As of the time of this article, it is still HIGHLY economical for an insurance company to just refuse to pay (or offer a super low amount) and then let you try your luck in court. So few people are successful without an attorney that it is cheaper for carriers to just go to court and try their luck than it is to pay every Joe that demands a diminished value settlement. Did you know that most insurance companies have an attorney on staff or retainer to deal with this? That means they don’t spend any attorney’s fees, they just have an attorney who is on a salary or under contract and who will happily take on the trial experience! These defense attorneys love handing people who have fake experts their asses. You can be sure attorneys that will sue (and can win) just for diminished value are few and far between, and they pick their experts carefully.
Don’t hire a salesman. Seek out a true expert.
Together we can rid the DV market of these dishonest imposters and reduce (maybe one day eliminate altogether) the rip-off’s. DV is meant to help good people when accidents happen, not leave them high and dry with a sour taste in their mouth.
If you’re one of these fake experts, you can bet the truth will catch up to you if you continue to play in my sandbox as a crook. As nice as I am, I’m no pushover. I will not tolerate a bully, a snob, or a crook. I’m gonna make sure fake experts have to continue to worry about me and the other legitimate experts, exposing them.
In the words of Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
I will not let evil triumph.
Call us at 214-227-2154 and see if you can’t tell that we are the real deal.
When a case like the one I am about to describe happens, it is hard for me to understand. If you’ve ever been in a dispute with an insurance company over the value of your automobile, then you know it can be a daunting task to get a fair settlement.
In a first party claim (where you’re making a claim against your own insurance company), if there’s a dispute, there’s normally a remedy written into the policy called “Appraisal”. Using this term is a bit tricky because, in most cases, the “Appraisal” remedy does not officially involve a written appraisal. Instead, when the dispute arises, either the insured or the insurance company can demand “Appraisal”, which is not the same as demanding “an” appraisal.
Appraisal as it is used in the policy means that each side picks an independent appraiser, and those two appraisers attempt to settle the dispute. If the appraisers can’t settle the dispute, they attempt to agree on an umpire (third appraiser) who will then try to resolve the dispute by seeing if they agree with either appraiser. Any two out of the three that agree to an award will bind the company and the insured to the award amount.
In the case that is the subject of this article, the insured owned a 1994 Nissan Avenir. Never heard of it? Yeah, me either, and I’m an auto appraiser, lol. Anyway, the vehicle is a right-hand drive utility wagon. It reminds me a bit of a Subaru Outback Wagon from the mid 1990’s. This particular vehicle was very clean and had very low miles (only 41,459 miles). The dealer where the owner bought it had it shipped over from Japan in 2019. In October of 2019, the vehicle was purchased for $6495.00. This was a pretty good price at the time. The vehicle is old enough that it does not have to meet the same stringent requirements in customs that newer vehicles do. So long as a shipping container can be obtained, then a dealer that is familiar with the Japanese market (where these right hand vehicles come from) can get one delivered for about $2500.00 (at least you could in October of 2019, before Covid 19 hit the world).
After the customer (who is an employee of the U.S. Postal Service) purchased the vehicle, she got to enjoy its reliability and practicality for a little less than a year before it was in a collision and deemed to be totaled by her insurance company (September of 2020). The insurance carrier, had their adjuster fill out the CCC valuation form to get a settlement value (you can read about CCC in some of my other articles), and once CCC did their thing and the owner fought for corrections, the offer for the vehicle was $4478.00.
Don’t forget, this offer was AFTER the owner had argued with the adjuster to get them to give her credit for options that the vehicle had which they had not originally inputted in the CCC portal. Unfortunately, even after arguing and reasoning and pointing out the reality that the offer was not fair, her carrier refused to negotiate and forced their customer to invoke the appraisal provision of her policy.
She did her research, hired me and named me as her appraiser, and we were able to get her carrier to name their appraiser. In typical fashion, the adjuster handling the claim was sorely unfamiliar with the appraisal clause process and how it’s officially navigated. I can’t image that carrier provided any training for appraisal clause cases. I have rarely dealt with any insurance company employee that was properly educated on the subject. Nevertheless, 10 days after the customer invoked the appraisal clause, the carrier named an appraiser with whom I was familiar.
At this point, since the other appraiser has been named, we’re supposed to discuss the loss amount and state our values. Instead, the other appraiser did something typical of an appraiser taking direction from an insurance company and delayed the claim by requesting information that is not part of the appraisal process, pretending all the while that it is required. The appraiser was clearly working for, and with, the insurance company to try and keep the claim expense down, without regard to the actual value of the property.
The company that the other appraiser works for is an appraisal company that seems to work exclusively for insurance companies. All the appraisers seem trained to be yes men for the insurance company clientele to which they cater. They do not seem to realize or care that they further victimize vehicle owners who have already been bullied by their carrier. I’ve been in business for myself over 12 years and working in auto claims for over 23, and my experience with this appraisal company and all of their appraisers (there’s about 4 of them that are all related), is that they are controlled by the insurance companies that hire them and are not truly independent.
Although the evidence points to them primarily working for the insurance company, I have been able to settle claims with them in the past, so I always try to give the appraisal company (even these snotty ones) the benefit of the doubt and discuss any case with them to see if we can settle it. Sometimes, because most carrier-oriented appraisal companies are not selecting comparable vehicles consistently, the initial number that the carrier’s appraiser comes up with is close enough to the real value that we can negotiate a little bit and settle the claim. Unfortunately, this appraisal company’s inconsistency is inconsistent and creates a realistic value scenario rarely and sporadically. In this case, the other appraiser placed a value on the Avenir of $3353.56. This is $1125.00 LOWER than the insurance company had already offered!
On top of that, the only comparable vehicle that the other appraiser located was still in Japan. Of course he did not account for any delivery costs to get it to the U.S.. After I saw his initial number, I emailed him saying that I couldn’t find any good comps in the U.S., but that my research indicated that the vehicle was valued at between $6500.00 and $7500.00. I did a lot of research and even called the dealer where vehicle was purchased. Because of Covid, the value of this vehicle increased from the time it was purchased until the accident. Covid caused a dramatic increase in shipping costs and, when the accident occurred (when the value must be measured), it was worth even more than she paid for it a year earlier. I tried multiple times to get the other appraiser to agree to a value of $6500.00. He refused to even discuss the value and without doing any additional research or even discussing what I found, he stated, “I don’t think I can come near that figure for just the value of the car alone based on what I found. I have attached my umpire list for your review.”
So. . . . 1) he found nothing comparable, 2) he did minimal research, 3) he refused to negotiate, and then 4) he sent me a list of umpires. I tried diligently to get him to agree to $6500.00. He wouldn’t discuss, insisting we cost both of our customers more money and go straight to an umpire. Although I can never trust an umpire to be fair, because of the strength of the research I had, I took a risk and agreed to an umpire.
Now for the perplexing part. . . .
We both provided our arguments to the umpire via email. I heard nothing for a couple of days. Then, all of the sudden, one day short of 90 days after the insured invoked the appraisal clause, the appraiser for the insurance company and the umpire signed an award for $7235.50 reflecting the ACV of the 1994 Nissan Avenir. Nobody discussed it with me at all.
Let me re-cap that for you again. . .
The customer’s carrier made a low offer on a total loss of $4478.00, so the customer invoked the appraisal clause to dispute the low offer. Then, the insurance company’s “independent” appraiser suggested a value of $3353.56 ($1125.00 LOWER than the original carrier offer). As the appraiser selected by the insured, I placed a value of between $6500 and $7500 on the vehicle and attempted to get the insurance company’s appraiser to agree to $6500.00, more than once. The insurance company’s appraiser refused to negotiate with me and made dilatory requests, unrelated to the formal appraisal process. His actions forced both the insurance company and the insured party to pay an additional fee to an umpire. All this just to immediately agree with the umpire to a value that was higher than I offered to agree to! I guess just the threat of having to talk to me was enough to get the appraiser in line. I mean, what was the point!?
If you want to know the names of the insurance company and appraisers and appraisal company referenced in this article, call my office. I’ll tell you straight up and you’ll know who to avoid! If you’re an insurance company playing games with your customers that invoke the appraisal clause, beware.
Whether you’re a vehicle owner, claims professional, or attorney, if you have questions about how the appraisal clause works or need help with anything regarding the property damage portion of an insurance claim, please call our office at 214-227-2154 and select option 1 to get a live person, and we’ll do our best to help you, or refer you to somebody that can! Information is always free at Petty Details, LLC!
Nothing in this article is to be construed as legal advice. Although the vast majority of policies contain a clause like the one described in this article, there can be differences in the process and rights based on the specific language of each policy.
What is the difference between an adjuster, an estimator and an appraiser?
This is a commonly confusing topic that Justin constantly has to clarify for people inside and outside of the insurance industry.
You would think it would be fairly simple to distinguish the difference but the insurance industry blurs the lines on this topic and fails to train their employees on the very important difference between these three positions.
Justin is setting the record straight today in an article he previously published on LinkedIn that we thought was worthy of posting here again on our site.
What can you expect from the new Carfax Total Loss Evaluation they just announced?
If you’re an insurance company or a dealer, then you can expect business as usual.
If you are the owner of a vehicle that has been totaled, then my guess is that you can expect nothing good from this new tool that is aimed at insurance companies.
Don’t be fooled; CARFAX is not going to provide private individuals with fair valuation reports on their car’s value.
Their announcement says the product will help ADJUSTERS that are considering total-loss claims. Yay, more help for adjusters and none for the victims, oh boy!
There are already total loss valuation companies that partner with insurance carriers and they have been, and / or are involved in class action lawsuits about the secret way they attempt to value vehicles (think CCC, or Mitchell) which many times results in a value that is much lower than what market information actually reflects.
The simple fact is that CARFAX is attempting to join the group of insurance partners who usurp authority on auto appraising. Keep in mind that CARFAX is not a vehicle valuation expert, nor are they an authority on auto appraisal methodology. They simply glean information about a vehicle’s history, and now they claim to have “History-Based Value” information.
The more one knows about Carfax and the more experience one has with Carfax, the less that person will trust them to give accurate results. Mark my words, the lack of transparency in valuation methodology will become increasingly evident as we see this new “CarfaxForClaims.com” portal take effect for adjusters.
My opinion is that it is just another way for insurance companies to pretend to be fair by partnering with a company that markets itself as consumer friendly (when it really isn’t). Look behind the big curtain in the corner folks.
Do you need help with a total loss? Is your claim against your own insurance company?
If so, we can help review and see if your case is a good candidate for invoking the appraisal clause. Fill out the form below today to get a FREE consultation with our experts on your claim!
Have you had trouble getting your diminished value claim settled?
So did our client Kelly in San Mateo, CA so she hired us as her experts. She had a 2016 Audi Q3 2.0T Premium Plus with over $20K in damage after an accident that wasn’t her fault and, although it should have been totaled, the at-fault insurance carrier INSISTED it was repairable!
She submitted her $6100 DV claim and got the typical immediate denial.
Because California only requires $5K in property damage liability coverage, insurance companies COMMONLY attempt to use this denial / delay tactic…
Here’s how it works:
The responsible carrier will refuse to address the victim’s out-of-pocket damages (like Loss of Use and Diminished Value), arguing that the VICTIM’S insurance carrier needs to subrogate first.
If this happens, the victim almost never gets paid for Diminished Value. Since your own policy doesn’t cover diminished value, you MUST get it from the at-fault person’s carrier so the subrogation claim must wait until you recover your DV.
Otherwise, the subro claim could exhaust the limits of the at-fault party’s policy, leaving you empty-handed with no way to recover. The Made-Whole Doctrine exists to combat this inequity (search more about this topic on our blog).
Once she made everyone aware that she knew her rights, Kelly got the full Diminished Value settlement of $6100 and her insurance company was forced to wait on their subrogation claim.
Do you need a great expert appraiser to help with your diminished value auto claim?
You can get a FREE claim consultation today to talk about your claim with one of our experts!