This is a hard subject to explain to a lot of people.
Let me start by saying that you need to understand what is in this article before you blow your top at some insurance adjuster. There are ways around a reservation of rights defense, but you have to be stealthy and, above all, you have to remain calm.
If you have found this article, you are either an insurance adjuster doing some research or you are involved in a claim and being advised that your claim is not being paid at this time and that they are putting the claim on a “reservation of rights”.
I’m going to speak on Texas and specifically on auto insurance as Texas is my home State and auto insurance is where I have the most experience, although the reservation of rights or its equivalent exists in almost every State in the U.S. and can come about on claims that are not automobile claims.
Back in May, I saw a sad story about a filmmaker in South Africa that was killed by the head butt of a giraffe out in the bush while filming for a movie.
In my mind, I related that to how the giant insurance companies just throw around invalid denials to diminished value claims to shut down the claimant from figuring out how in the heck to fight, therefore making them give up.
Until they find us.
A while ago, I was provided with a pretty big list of arguments that attempted to show why diminished market value on automobiles is not real, or at least why it is never very much.
I am going to address each one, point by point so as to be very thorough.
Mind you, these arguments were made by a professional who evaluates the market of stigma losses on automobiles.
How Our Client’s $5000 Success Can Lead the Way to Your Success!
Having an uninsured motorist or under-insured motorist diminished value claim (UM/UIM claim) doesn’t usually qualify for the fun list, but if you’re faced with having to deal with this type of diminished value, it pays to educate yourself about these types of claims! It paid our client $5000 to be precise!
Let’s start this article out right with the great news! We just had a client go to court in Collin County, Texas and she got a big win thanks to our appraisal, expert help and our attorney who stepped in to get that case into court! More details about that case are a few paragraphs below so keep reading!
The Norm for Uninsured Diminished Value Claims – a BIG FAT DENIAL
Believe it or not, the vast majority of insurance adjusters do not get any training on how to handle an uninsured motorist diminished value claim. In fact, insurance companies routinely refuse to pay for uninsured motorist diminished value claims and make up all kinds of excuses why they don’t owe for them. It’s just a claims handling tactic meant to deter people that don’t have much wherewithal or persistence. With just a little bit of research, you can prove to yourself that your own insurance company owes you for any inherent diminished value you sustain due to an uninsured or under-insured motorist.
The best case to cite for a Texas uninsured motorist diminished value claim is the Noteboom vs. Farmers case that you can easily find with an internet search.
Now, don’t get all excited since you now know the truth.
You can rest assured that even with the exact right answer and perfect evidence, the insurance company will balk and typically refuse to pay anything near the real diminished value amount. When that happens, you have to know how to bring your claim to a close without messing up your ability to use the court system.
How Can You Fight for Diminished Value on your Uninsured Motorist Policy?
If you’ve done some Googling because of a total loss dispute with your insurance company, you probably came across information explaining your right to appraisal (also called the invoking the appraisal clause).
Unfortunately, because auto total loss disputes are usually less than $10,000.00, it is an area that hasn’t traditionally attracted attorneys (but there are a few attorneys that will fight for you).
In fact, because the amounts in dispute are typically under $10,000.00, most insurance companies don’t even train their claims staff about the appraisal clause. I know. I was an adjuster for over a decade and NOT EVEN ONCE was the appraisal clause mentioned. If you invoke the appraisal clause, you can bet that you will be dealing with a claims representative that has no clue what they are doing (if you’re an adjuster that thinks you know better, prove it). I educate adjusters and insurance carriers every week about this little known right that their insureds have.
What do you think? Do you have to sell your car in order to prove that it has lost value?
To the surprise of me and my client’s attorney, we recently had a Judge that said YES. Insurance adjusters are trained to say YES to the title question, too. But what do you think? The graphic with this article sorta sums up why the law does not agree with the Judge or the insurance adjusters, but I’ll go a little further to drive the point home.
No, Really…Do You Have To Sell Your Car To Prove Diminished Value?
Am I richer when the prices of my stocks go up?
Am I poorer when my stock values are down?
If average home prices around the home I own rise, am I richer?
If I trade my Lamborghini even for a Toyota Corolla, am I richer, or poorer?
If the doctor says I need a $10000.00 surgery to save my foot, am I richer if I don’t get the surgery?
If I lose my foot, and then use a prosthetic, is the cost of maintaining and replacing the prosthetic, along with the future medical costs I will incur part of the value of my claim, or does it only count when I actually go and pay for the care?
If everybody in your neighborhood paid $500 for a grill from the hardware store, and you found an identical one on Craigslist for $325.00 and still in the box, what is the market value of the grill?
If I have a Rolex valued at $22,000.00 by a well known Rolex appraiser, and I sell it for $18000.00, did I change the value of the Rolex?
If a sell price dictates market value, then there is no such thing as a “good deal”.
Insurance companies count on vehicle owners not knowing about the law, specifically the made whole doctrine. They use the lack of knowledge by the layman to prey on accident victims for profit. Right now, many of the accident victims that are reading this article are being further victimized by their own insurance company, and many times the adjusters that are doing the victimizing have been indoctrinated to believe they are doing the right thing and that they are within the law.
Let me be very clear here: Insurance companies routinely steal money from their own customers through improper and illegal subrogation activities.
Blogs are buzzing because in the recent Texas Supreme Court Case, J&D Towing LLC v. American Alternative Insurance Corporation 2016 WL 91201 (Tex. 2016), a major wrong that has been going on since before there were even cars was righted.
If you’ve had the displeasure of being in an accident where your vehicle was repairable, you’ve probably experienced a loss in the resale value of your vehicle, no matter how well it was repaired.
Additionally, in the vast majority of cases the insurance company that is responsible for settling the claim with you gives you an unfair and invalid diminished value claim denial. In my view, the denial of these valid claims is an act of fraud.
If it is fraud, then why doesn’t the insurance company get in trouble for it?
The primary reason is that there are very few attorneys and even fewer accident victims that really understand the denials. Because of that, it is difficult for the accident victim to defeat the illogical and unlawful reasons that insurance companies use to deny diminished value claims. I thought long and hard about what I could do to help accident victims get fair compensation for lost value, and outside of preparing an appraisal for them and directing them to an attorney that will take their case, the best I can do is to educate. So that is exactly what I will do right now!
I’ve already published one article that gives some responses to common denials, but in this post, I am going to pull out the stops and address every denial reason I can find, and provide all the proper reasons why the denials are invalid, improper, and in most cases, fraudulent.