You’ve got MOUNTAINS of questions!
We went on an expedition to get you answers!
We have tackled all of the tough insurance claims faqs and posted them here. You can find info on diminished value, total losses, public adjusters, injury claims, demand letters and more to make an informed decision when dealing with your insurance claim after an auto accident.
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Advice On Insurance Claims And Auto Accidents
This article is based on my 15 years of claims adjusting experience. I have developed a simple little formula that will help you decide if you need an attorney or not.
Keep in mind, this quiz is tailored for auto accidents only, and I make no warranties or guarantees that your result is a foolproof answer. Ultimately, the only person that can decide if you need an attorney is you. With that being said, simply answer the following 15 questions and then add up your answers.
All of these questions are yes or no questions. Whatever answer you have the most of is your answer to the title of this article.
- Is your automobile newer than a 2005 model?
- Is your vehicle one of the following – a Lexus, BMW, Mercedes or Audi?
- Are you younger than 35 years old?
- Did you take an ambulance to the emergency room from the scene of the accident?
- Were there any witnesses (other than your passengers, friends or family members) that saw the accident occur?
- Was the accident someone else’s fault?
- Were there more than two vehicles involved in the accident?
- Did you or any of your passengers bleed as a result of the accident?
- Have you had 2 or less auto accidents in your lifetime?
- Have you already filed a claim and spoken with an insurance adjuster?
- Did you lose any time from work as a result of the accident?
- Do you believe that staff adjusters at an insurance company are paid to settle claims for as low of an amount as possible?
- If you suffered $5000.00 in damages to your vehicle, didn’t take an ambulance, but did incur over $2000.00 at a chiropractor’s office, do you believe your total claim is worth at least $10000.00?
- Do you agree that it is true when a vehicle sustains damages to its frame that it should be totaled?
- Do you agree that even a low speed rear-end impact can cause a low back disc herniation?
I hope you wrote your answers down! If you didn’t, go back and write them down this time! (hehe) Now, just add up the yes’s and the no’s. Whichever answer has the highest number is the answer to the question “Do I need an Attorney?”.
Good luck with your claim!
Collision Repair After An Auto Accident
7 Things You Need To Know About Car Accident Repair Costs & Auto Body Repair Estimates
In nearly 15 years as an adjuster I have seen some doozies when it comes to collision repair.
As a short example, let me tell you this . . .
When I was an adjuster, I caught a body shop and a rental car company conspiring to defraud the insurance company.
What they did was this:
The rental company would file a claim for undercarriage damage, and we would inspect the vehicle, find the damages, write the estimate for the collision repair and pay the body shop for the repairs.
What I figured out is that instead of the damages happening like the rental company said (like a renter hit a curb, or hit some debris in the road), it was being caused by the body shop.
The shop would have their technician put the car on a lift and then he would get under it with a sledge hammer and damage the oil pan or some other component, then they would give the car back to the rental company and they would file the claim. We would pay the shop to replace the damaged component, but they would just go in and repair the component and pocket the money for the parts that we paid them. They sometimes made $400.00 or $500.00 on one scam by just faking invoices for parts that they had damaged to begin with. They would then repair the part or replace it with one they had lying around and pocket the insurance money.
Not all shops are crooks, but body shops, like any other business, are in business to make money. Most people are not experts on collision repair, and body shops know this. Taking your car to a body shop is sort of like going to the doctor or hiring an attorney. You kind of have to trust what the doctor or lawyer says because they are specially trained. It is the same for a body shop, you kind of have to trust what they tell you because they are specially trained.
If you’re cool with trusting a collision repair facility, then fine, go find another article to read. But if you are like me, you want to learn how to avoid having to trust a body shop (the concept could apply to doctors and lawyers, too).
Try to avoid using a shop if:
1. You were referred to the shop by an insurance company
- The shop has an agreement with the insurance company, and if you are able to get a copy of the agreement between the shop and the insurance company, you are impressive.
- The insurance company has a vested interest in making sure repairs are as cheap as possible.
- Questions that would normally be directed to the vehicle owner, like “should we fix this wiring while we’re at it?”, or “hey, did this happen in the accident?” will be directed to the insurance company and not the customer. The owner is left out of the loop.
2. The shop is dirty or unorganized
I know that sounds obvious, but a lot of people just overlook that aspect because they think repairing vehicle damages is a dirty job. It’s not, a good shop will be clean and organized. Dirty and unorganized implies to me that the shop is used to cutting corners to save money.
Dealing With The Shop
Okay, so the above two things are things to watch out for if you haven’t picked a shop.
What? You say your vehicle is already at a body repair shop that the insurance company referred you to?
Here are some things that you can do that will help you keep the shop honest:
1. Ask the shop manager to provide you with a copy of all the invoices for parts they had to purchase to fix your car, and then compare the parts list with the cost listed on the insurance company’s collision repair estimate.
2. Ask the shop for a written repair guarantee.
3. Ask the shop if they are a direct repair facility for more than one insurance company (just asking this will make them think twice about cutting a corner at your expense). If they are, ask them for the list.
4. Bluntly ask if they have used new Original Equipment Manufacturer Parts (OEM), used OEM parts, or aftermarket parts.
5. Ask the shop to explain “betterment” to you, just because you are curious. This is just to show them that you are reading up on the repair process.
If you picked a dirty and unorganized shop, well, that was silly :), but you could still use the 5 tips above to help keep them honest.
In conclusion, be curious. Force yourself into the loop. A customer who is actively asking questions and is curious about what is going on will help to keep the shop on their toes. If you still think the shop is not treating you right, get a professional involved to check out the repairs after they are complete and tell you if the repair is sufficient. A good shop should be able to repair your vehicle back to within the original factory specifications.
Car Accidents: 3rd Party Insurance Claims For Auto Accidents & Myths About Insurance Adjusters
If the at fault party has liability insurance, then when you file a claim with their insurance company you have a 3rd party claim.
I have read quite a few articles that give a lot of bad information about adjusters. The thing I have noticed most about those articles is that none of them were written by an insurance adjuster! I’d be willing to bet that if you have not been an insurance adjuster, then you believe they are almost as bad as used car salesmen or attorneys, hehe. It is a common view.
What Is The Norm?
I can’t speak for every single insurance claims office out there, but I can say that I have worked for 5 different non-standard companies as an adjuster, and I have worked on contract for many standard companies as a recovery specialist with a firm.
I have never been instructed to deny any valid claim, nor have I been advised to “low-ball” claimants. This might happen at some companies, but it is definitely not the norm.
Insurance adjusters (if they care about their license) will usually try very hard to fairly resolve claims. I will say that I have definitely dealt with some companies that have some “questionable” practices. I won’t name names, but some of these companies simply attempt to cut costs by hiring inexperienced adjusters and giving them a “rule-book”. It is the inexperience of the adjuster in interpreting the “rules” that causes the majority of the issues.
One common unwritten rule at these companies is “deny claims with conflicting statements”. An adjuster that doesn’t understand when they can and when they can’t deny a claim makes it very frustrating for a claimant to successfully negotiate a fair settlement. In my opinion, adjusting takes an inordinate amount of common sense, but the test to get a license (at least in Texas) doesn’t really test for common sense. An adjuster can know all the rules and still be a really crappy adjuster. Believe me, I have dealt with some adjusters that give a terrible name to the profession. I’m not trying to defend those adjusters. I have heard conversations between inexperienced adjusters and claimants, and it is appalling. I have overheard adjusters just confidently misinform claimants of their rights, or confidently base their coverage or liability decision on misinformation, or just poor investigation.
Just realize that is not the norm.
Common Sense and How To Use It To Resolve Your Insurance Claims Issues
With that previous rant off my chest, let me tell you a practice that falls into that category of having a “no common sense” adjuster and that is (in my opinion) unethical and inappropriate. The main scenario that causes a claimant to be “screwed” is when the damages are not very severe. For example, let’s say you were rear-ended, but since you are a good person, you are not claiming any injury even though you may be sore for a while and could possibly incur some therapy bills.
Now let’s also assume that coverage has been accepted. Since you are such a good person, you didn’t call the police so there’s no police report. Now it is up to the other person (let’s say they are an unlicensed 15 year old kid) to admit that the accident was their fault, or, in the alternative, it is up to the insurance adjuster to make a judgment call (based on common sense) on whose fault the accident was.
Seems simple, right?
You were rear-ended, you have damages to the rear of your vehicle and the other person has damages to the front of their vehicle. It should be clear, right? Well, let’s add a common twist that I saw all the time. The kid lies.
First of all, he/she wasn’t supposed to be driving the vehicle. Next, they had a few friends with them (that’s why they rear-ended you, they were distracted), and they weren’t supposed to be hanging with friends on a school night. So instead of just telling the truth and saying they rear-ended you, they try to avoid further “trouble” at home and they lie and say that you had pulled out into the intersection a little and then backed up into them. At least the accident wasn’t their fault (I have heard it before, really).
When the adjuster calls you and tells you this, you can’t believe it!
The adjuster has three options:
- Believe the kid
- Believe you
- Just pay for your damages
What do you think will happen?
I’ll tell you.
If the adjuster is inexperienced and has a supervisor or manager that is immoral, they will deny your claim based on conflicting statements. This is a perfectly valid denial that they can get away with. They can play dumb and try and act like they really can’t tell whose fault it is. It’s valid because there is not any evidence to support either side of the story. It is word against word. They will deny the claim saying that they can’t determine liability.
Now surely if you filed suit, they would pay the claim because, I mean, come on….what jury is going to believe a 15 year-old who says they got backed into at an intersection? Especially if they had three other 15 year-olds in the car with them? The problem is that your damages are only $1200.00, and it is going to cost you to file suit.
So what can you do?
If you are really sharp, you could use a small claims court to force the matter, but even the rules for small claims can be complicated, so most people end up just getting mad and bad mouthing the insurance company (rightfully so in my opinion).
The insurance company counts on this type of issue.
They play the numbers game.
Quite a few companies (even the big ones) take this approach. They have inexperienced adjusters who don’t think for themselves, and just ask the manager what to do. Once they have been told to handle it that way once, they just think that is how it works. Nobody ever seems to figure this out until they have been in the business a while. A manager is not going to explain it like I just did – they will just say “Well, deny the claim, you can’t tell whose fault it was!”. The adjuster is none the wiser. The manager knows they will pay if a suit is filed, but what the manager knows is that most people will give up and not fight because they don’t know how and the claim is not worth enough for an attorney to take the case.
In this case, the insurance company wins! They can deny these types of claims because they have inexperienced adjusters to thwart off common sense and they won’t make that judgment call to pay the claim.
Fight Or Be Taken Advantage Of
Here’s the cold hard fact: If you don’t fight, you will get taken advantage of. You can avoid this type of issue if you know what evidence to secure at the scene, but how many of us are claims specialists and think to get a written statement from the kid at the scene?
You as the claimant have to learn how to fight for yourself when the claim is a small amount (say under $7500.00). I tell you, I never did this to people when I was handling 3rd party insurance claims. I used my head and I paid the claim because common sense told me the accident was the fault of the 15 year-old. I have always thought for myself. The story of someone backing into somebody at an intersection doesn’t hold much water for me unless there is some really good evidence or a witness that can confirm the story.
If you find yourself in this situation, you have a choice to make.
You can either accept the denial, or you can fight until you are blue in the face for what is right! If more people utilized the small claims court system, some of these “questionable” practices would be less profitable and we would all see a little higher quality adjuster on the front lines so that those judgment calls could be made with some common sense. It is up to the adjuster to decide if you are serious about suing or not, and if they don’t believe you have what it takes to get your money, then you will get a denial. Period.
Don’t forget about filing a diminished value claim when making your 3rd party insurance claim – it is owed to you and companies like ours help consumers recover every day!
A Loss With Many Names
Most consumers know that this type of loss happens, but they just don’t know how to properly document the loss, and there are very few insurance companies that will offer to calculate it for the consumer because that would just mean more money out of the insurance company’s pocket.
When consumers search for help, they sometimes misspell the actual terms and come up with less than optimum help. It is not diminition of value….it has a “u” in it, hehe. I have seen such misspellings as demiciated value, depreciated value, diminishment of value, and depreciation of value. I had to put in all the possible variations so I could make sure you find us for the help you need – the spelling is tricky so make sure to spell it right and you will come across some better resources!
What Are The Factors That Must Exist For Diminished Value?
In almost every state in the US, it is possible to recover diminished value if certain circumstances exist. I will list out the most probable set of factors one must have in order to successfully recover diminished value but first, one must have a firm grasp on what diminished value is in order to properly document it for use in an actual claim.
1. Repair related diminished value
Repair related diminished value is the loss in value that a vehicle sustains due to improper or substandard work performed at a collision or repair facility.
Most repair shops will provide a written guarantee of their work, so this type of diminished value is becoming less and less available and repair techniques and available repair tools are becoming more and more advanced. Additionally, unless a consumer is forced into using a specific repair facility (which is illegal in most states), it is a very hard type of claim to pursue. If there are terrible repairs, then the problem is between the consumer and the body shop. It will likely require quite a bit of legwork and a professional to actually document the faulty repairs.
2. Estimate related diminished value
Estimate related diminished value is the loss in value that a vehicle sustains due to the manner a repair estimate is written.
This is not a super common type of diminished value, either, but it comes about when an appraiser or adjuster elects to write an estimate that includes things such as repairs when the part or component should have been replaced, or things like utilizing aftermarket parts that are not completely compatible with the subject vehicle. This kind of diminished value also requires special expertise in order to properly document.
3. Inherent diminished value
Inherent diminished value is the loss in value that a vehicle sustains simply because it has been in a wreck.
Ask most anybody whether or not they would like to pay $5000.00 for a 1998 Honda Accord with 100,000 miles on it that has never been wrecked, or if they would like to pay $5000.00 for an identical 1998 Honda Accord that was involved in a wreck and repaired. I would be willing to bet that most people would opt for the vehicle that was never wrecked. There is just a stigma associated with a vehicle being in a wreck, you know? Unfortunately, even this type of diminished value will probably require an expert to document.
So, you can see that the easiest and most common type is an inherent diminished value claim that is pursuable, so when can you successfully recover this type of loss?
Does Your Claim Qualify?
If the following factors apply to your claim, then it is probably worth it to hire a professional and have them write an official diminished value report:
- The accident was not your fault.
- The at fault party has insurance or you have uninsured motorist coverage.
- Your vehicle is newer than a 2002 model vehicle.
- The damage estimate was at least $2000.00.
- Your car was not deemed a total loss.
If you have all five factors above, then you need to ask your adjuster to address the diminished value and go from there. Most likely, the adjuster will require that you make a formal demand for the claim, so if that happens, just write a letter and ask the insurance company to pay you some amount of money for the diminished value. You could do some research, but if you are not a trained (and normally a license is required) adjuster the value you ask for won’t hold much water, so unless the company just offers up an acceptable amount, you need to find a specialist to write you a report.
The cost for a diminished value report can be up to $400.00, but you can find good specialists to write a report for far less that will hold muster in front of a judge or jury. Do your research and find somebody that will talk to you over the phone and give you some assistance in preparing cover letters or at the very least, somebody that will actually inspect your vehicle and not just provide you with a formula or have you fill out an online form. The specialist should be willing to testify in court on behalf of their report if needed.
That’s it and good luck!
There Is No Formula!
Do not be fooled into believing that a formula can accurately determine your vehicle’s diminished market value.
Diminished Value – It Takes Research….Lots Of It!
First of all, the reason formulas exist is to simplify the calculation of values. It is not simple to calculate diminished value in a reputable manner. It takes research, and a lot of it.
If an individual or company could prove that a formula would incorporate every factor that is relevant to diminished value, and if the formula would automatically adjust for past market trends and future market trends, then maybe (and I mean maybe) a formula might come close to determining an accurate diminished value on an automobile. There is simply no database that contains market trend data on every private passenger automobile from 10 years ago up to 10 years in the future. Unless one is a bonafide prophet and certifiable encyclopedia of past market trends, vehicle sales data and consumer mindsets, there is no way to create a formula that will reflect accurate diminished value.
How To Calculate Diminished Value Accurately
So how the heck is diminished value calculated, you say? It is calculated on a case by case basis by taking into consideration the exact market in which the vehicle is housed, the damage that the vehicle sustained, the quality of the repairs that were made to the vehicle and expert research into the methods used by purchasers to value the subject vehicle within the applicable market.
I know that’s a mouthful, but that is what it takes. Not to mention knowing the tendencies of the venue if litigation is required and taking into consideration all the specialty condition adjustments that need to be made to properly evaluate a vehicle’s desirability within any applicable market.
I guarantee that one person’s 2005 Ford F-150 will have different options, dings and nicks, and usage history than another person’s 2005 Ford F-150. I would also be surprised to see the exact same mileage or ownership history on two vehicles of the identical make and model.
In conclusion, formulas for calculating diminished value are acceptable only if the victim of diminished value agrees that the final value is acceptable compensation, but the formulas are never acceptable on their own merit and are ridiculously lacking on actual data to support values that are just “plugged into the formula”. If there is a base loss of value percentage to be used (like in the 17c formula), wouldn’t you like to know how that percentage was calculated and if the data that was used to calculate the percentage was based upon the market for your specific vehicle? I would.
Sometimes it’s just in the Petty Details! Good luck.
This is intended to help you understand what it takes and how you can increase your chances of actually recovering your diminished value claim.
1. Write a formal letter demanding payment for the lost value you believe you have sustained.
In this step, there is no need to actually determine the amount, simply demand more than you expect to receive. The trick to this step is to follow-up and get a written response to your demand. Do not give up! I’m telling you, the squeaky wheel gets the oil / grease! Maybe you will get paid just based off your initial letter (it has happened). If you get a written denial, move on to steps two through five and make another written demand with your revised findings after completing the steps.
2. Call dealerships in your area and beg them to give you a written opinion on the lost value your vehicle has sustained.
If you are a smooth enough talker, you can normally convince a dealer to help you document your loss. I have never met a dealer that doesn’t agree that a vehicle loses value after being in an accident and repaired.
3. In addition to trying to get dealer data, look up the value of your vehicle using industry standard guides, like NADA, Kelley Blue Book, or Edmunds.
These sources clearly indicate differences in value based on the condition and history of the vehicle.
4. Search online auctions and vehicle sale sites and call individuals that have similar vehicles for sale.
Ask individuals how they feel about the value of a vehicle after it has been wrecked and repaired.
5. Use the new information obtained in steps 2 through 4 to make a follow-up demand with new amounts.
If you get denied again and all else fails, hire a specialist to document your loss and prepare to sue. There are official rules about how one must document diminished value, and experts in this field know how to document your loss professionally so that it will hold up in a court of law. Most of the time after getting an expert report, the insurance company suddenly becomes a little more reasonable.
Don’t Give Up On Your Diminished Value Claim!
In summary, if you don’t give up and you genuinely have a diminished value claim, then the insurance company will likely pay your claim without the need for you filing a lawsuit. If you can’t get your claim settled and you need to take legal action, either hire an attorney or learn how to use the small claims court system in your area. If you need professional assistance or just free information about how to get paid for diminished value after accident damages, then just remember that information is always free at Petty Details, LLC!
Diminished Value Of A Car And A “Loss Of Value” Claim: The Definition
This is a trickier question than it may seem. Let me start by providing a general definition:
The amount of value lost on any item of value due to a change in the condition, age, or demand associated with the item.
Now, as it relates to the value of a car, diminished value is defined in different ways and there are different types of diminished value.
As used in most insurance claims litigation, diminished value is defined as:
“the difference in value of an automobile immediately prior to a collision and the value immediately following a collision”.
This definition is simply another way of saying that diminished value is simply the cost of repair. This may be well true, but if you further describe the type of diminished value by adding the words “residual” or “inherent” or “repair related” or “process related” then you have a whole new definition.
For the purposes of most people, the only type of diminished value they will be concerned with is the inherent or residual diminished value that their vehicle sustains following collision damages and repairs.
This type of diminished value is based upon the fact that a damaged and repaired vehicle is not as desirable as a vehicle of the same make and model and options that has not been damaged and repaired.
Less desire = less value
I think anybody that understands the concept of supply and demand will agree that this analogy is sound.
So, now you know what diminished value is, but now how do you get compensated for it if it has affected you?
Simple! You need to document your loss and demand payment for your damages! Most people enlist the services of an expert appraiser in the area of diminished value. If you need assistance or more information on your diminished value or loss of value claim, remember that information is always free at Petty Details, LLC and we will provide you with a free claim consultation to see what your claim is worth today!
Secrets To Success In Finding Your Vehicle’s Loss Of Value
Loss of market value, diminished value, and diminution of value are the most common terms used to describe the difference in resale value your vehicle is likely to incur due to a collision.
Determining the loss of value that vehicle has incurred is a complex job and requires quite a bit of data. Since our company specializes in determining this type of lost value, I thought I would share some secrets that help our customers succeed in recovering diminished value.
1. Don’t believe for one minute that a free diminished value report will convince an insurance company to pay you any money.
Think about it….if it’s free then where is the company getting money to stay in business? These companies utilize marketing tactics to draw you to their free (and worthless) product and then bombard you with advertisements or try to sneak in a place where you provide your e-mail so that they can advertise to you later.
The worst of them simply get you to fill out their form, then instead of providing you with a report, they just tell you how much you might expect – if you want an official report then pay so and so amount and call so and so number. This is where they make money, on advertising.
They offer what seems to be the best deal in the world and get a lot of visitors to their website, and in turn they use those traffic numbers to convince other companies to advertise on their site for a fee or try and get you to buy a diminished value report from them. They make money, and you get a free report or diminished value range that is generated by a computer with no knowledge of your specific vehicle’s condition, damage amount, or market.
2. Be willing to, and expect to negotiate a little bit.
There is no way to determine the exact amount of diminished value a vehicle will realize when it is sold. There are too many factors (the seller’s need to sell, the buyer’s need to buy, the availability of maintenance records or actual damage estimates / repair invoices from previous damages). If you go into the fight with the determination to settle instead of with the determination to get every penny you are owed, then that attitude will spill over to the adjuster and you will likely get an adjuster who is also willing to negotiate a little bit.
3. Negotiate only in writing!
Adjusters get practice verbally arguing all day everyday.
Don’t play on the home court, you know?
Most adjusters are much more apprehensive about writing something derogatory or illegal than they are about saying something derogatory or illegal. Additionally, utilizing written correspondence will keep you from hearing the tone of the adjuster’s voice and may keep you from blowing your top because of the perceived arrogance of some adjusters. Ask for an e-mail or fax number to speed things up, and if they refuse that information, just use the mail and follow-up religiously with phone calls asking if they have received your correspondence. Don’t engage in a conversation regarding the correspondence if they attempt to start discussing it, rather, nicely ask them to put their response in writing so you can review.
4. Purchase an expert report only after speaking directly with the expert and confirming with your adjuster that an expert report is needed!
If you can’t get your expert on the phone, then RUN AWAY!!
If your insurance adjuster says that an expert report will not change their mind, then you will likely need to file a suit or hire an attorney. If you get this kind of adjuster / company, decide if your suing first, then get your report. Good insurance adjusters will simply pick up the phone and call the diminished value expert to try and get a feel for their real expertise. If you have a good expert, then you will likely get at least an offer from the company. If your expert isn’t so great, they probably can’t convince you that they are an expert, will not give you straight answers to your questions, and they will not be able to explain themselves to an adjuster, judge or jury.
Even the best experts should not charge more than a total of $350.00 for their continued help, their inspection of your vehicle, and their official report.
Want to know what your claim is worth now?
Request a free claim consultation and find out free of charge!
If you are attempting to recover damages as a result of diminished value, you will undoubtedly be required to prove your loss.
This can be very difficult for the average accident victim. Can you just call around and get auto dealer quotes to prove your loss? Knowledge of the proper methodologies and form for presenting valid supporting data eludes most laymen. As a former licensed adjuster and current owner of a claim services company, I can attest to how hard it is to document diminished value in a credible manner.
Spill The Beans! How Do I Prove My Diminished Value?
Let’s face it, the only way to document diminished value on a vehicle that has been in a collision and then repaired is to research the market for that vehicle and gather as much data as possible about how an accident history affects the value of the vehicle as seen by consumers and retail auto dealers. Adjusters will ask you for real data that supports your claim, not just the “opinion” of some so called “expert”. That should be easy enough, right?
You can bet that if you take your vehicle in to a dealer to trade-in on a new vehicle, the dealer will run a title history check and will physically inspect the vehicle for signs or evidence that the vehicle has been in an accident and repaired. If it is discovered that your vehicle has an accident history, the dealer will surely reduce their trade-in offer when giving you an auto dealer quote.
They will cite problems such as their inability to certify the vehicle due to repaired parts, or the fact that they are required by law to disclose accident history to prospective purchasers, or issues relating to the voiding of manufacturer’s warranties due to damaged and repaired components, or safety related components such as air bag modules which cannot be economically tested for reliability after being replaced or repaired. The dealer will reduce your vehicle’s value dramatically if it has been in a wreck.
You know what is strange, though?
They don’t want to admit that they do that in writing.
They will verbally tell you all day that they will reduce the value of a vehicle and can tell you exactly how much they will reduce the value. I have even had dealers discuss diminished value with me on specific vehicles for 30 minutes or more and detail to me the manner in which they determine trade-in values on a previously wrecked vehicle. They are very familiar with the concept of diminished value and commonly utilize it to make great deals on trade-ins, but most won’t put their auto dealer quote in writing!
This is where the documentation problem comes in. Auto dealer quotes would be great documentation for diminished value, but it is almost impossible to get enough dealers to quote a diminished value so that an average can be determined. I understand that dealers don’t want to look bad, but they have to pick a side, you know? On one hand, you can’t reduce vehicle values because of damage histories when giving auto dealer quotes if you don’t publicly want to admit that you do it. At the very least, I think that if the dealer is going to reduce your vehicle’s value due to an auto accident, they should also document their decision in writing. It seems like common sense, but in my experience, it is like pulling teeth to get a dealer to go on record about diminished value. In fact, I have had dealers give me information and opinions on vehicles with the understanding that I was going to use that information in official appraisals, then when they see the information in the report with the threat that they will have to testify in court, they retract or dispute their statements.
Seriously, as soon as it seemed like they might be called in to testify on a court case, they began to backpedal and make statements like “I didn’t give specifics”, or “I only discussed diminished value in general and didn’t give a quote”.
Why Auto Dealer Quotes Are Hard To Get
One reason for this is that the dealer’s opinion of actual diminished value is almost always less than what they will actually reduce from a trade in.
Example: I recently had a case where a Range Rover was damaged. The damage was limited to cosmetic issues with the front bumper and one fender. The total damage was barely $1500.00 and most of the cost was for labor. When I spoke with dealers, they advised me that a cosmetic issue like that would reduce the value of the vehicle, but not so much that it would be a huge loss. Out of 7 dealers, the highest amount one would likely deduct because of this damage was about $3000.00. After documenting the average diminished value and writing the official report that incorporated some of the opinions, the owner of the vehicle was not happy and felt the diminished value was much more because when they actually tried to trade in the vehicle, the dealers they dealt with wanted to deduct between $4K and $7K because of the damage history.
What the owner doesn’t know is that they have to negotiate!
The real diminished value is much less than the dealers are quoting them. Come on guys! It’s the rule of negotiation: start high, settle in the middle, you know? The point is that dealers won’t put their opinions in writing; they don’t want it to be exposed that they start way higher than they actually believe when it comes to deducting for diminished value. The dealer will do whatever they have to in order to avoid being put in the spotlight when it comes to quoting how they determine diminished value.
So what’s the solution?
How do you use and document auto dealer quotes to prove your diminished value? Here’s the solution we came up with and why our appraisals are the most credible around…
1. We contact dealers and discuss diminished value on specific subject vehicles.
2. Since we’ve had some unhappy dealers because of litigation threats (no real suits), we now advise the dealers that we will not disclose their name or where we have obtained our data unless the data is subpoenaed as part of an officially filed lawsuit.
3. We agree that the data we obtain from the dealer is just that, data, not quotes.
4. We agree that if litigation results that includes our official report, then we will testify that the report is our opinion based on actual market research, but will not testify that the dealer quoted us any specific value, just a diminished value range.
5. We explain the litigation process in detail to dealers. They normally do not understand that even if they are required to testify as to their opinion, the opinion is not a quote and that they are not going to be held responsible for actually purchasing a vehicle based on our report findings.
6. We certify our findings on an official appraisal written by a claims expert and former adjuster/recovery specialist in accordance with accepted practices and submitted in the most widely accepted form by insurance companies.
It is time consuming and hard work to get around the dealers’ anxiety about providing written diminished value quotes. A lot of times, it requires some begging for information and a lot of slick talking to convince dealers to assist consumers by providing market data to our company. We also maintain our market data and update it as necessary, but many times, we have already conducted research on your specific model of vehicle and have ready-to-use data for our appraisals. Sometimes you can use these tricks to document your diminished value, and you may be able to get paid without employing a professional appraiser like me. If you are informed, then you are a threat!
Sometimes, it’s just in the Petty Details!
Want answers about your diminished value claim? Request a FREE claim consultation today!
Diminished Value Insurance Claims After An Accident
Contract (1st Party) Or Tort (3rd Party)
If your vehicle has been damaged in an accident and subsequently repaired, then in most cases it has suffered some inherent diminished value.
The informed accident victim may attempt to seek recovery for the cash value of the diminishment, and in some cases they completely have the right to recover diminished value, but in other situations diminished value is not a payment for which they can receive compensation.
Understanding The Difference
In the title of this article, you will find the terms contract and tort. These terms are extremely important to understand as they relate to diminished value. In most States of the U.S. (Georgia being the prime exception), there is no contractual coverage for diminished value, but in every State there is coverage for the tort of diminished value. Now, I do not want to patronize my readers, but it seems that the difference between contract and tort is not such a simple concept to grasp. If you totally get it, then this article is not for you, but if you are still wondering how to figure out if you have a contract issue or a tort issue, then read on my friend.
Contract – 1st Party Diminished Value
First of all, a contract is between two parties and requires the signature of both parties. You cannot create a contract by being involved in an accident. So, if you purchased a policy from an agent, online, or by making a telephone call, then you made a contract. Unless you live in Georgia or a few other places, then you cannot collect diminished value from your insurance policy (but maybe from uninsured motorists coverage…..call an expert!).
Tort – 3rd Party Diminished Value
A tort is a civil wrong. It means that somebody was negligent and caused damages for which they are now responsible. You can indeed create a tort by being involved in an accident. If someone failed to timely apply their brakes and rear ended you, then they were negligent and are liable to you for the damages their negligence caused. If that negligent party purchased insurance for their automobile and their liability, then their insurance should pay for their legal liability to you (including your diminished value claim).
Okay, so if someone created a tort against you, then the contract that they purchased will cover the tort liability, get it? You are a third party to the contract that the tortfeasor (negligent party) has with his/her insurance. This is where the third-party / first party terminology comes into play. You read all about first party and third party coverages as they relate to diminished value, and maybe now you can refer back to this article and determine the difference as it relates to your specific case.
To briefly recap…
1. If you are filing a claim against a policy that you purchased, you are a first party to the contract and will most likely be unable to collect for diminished value with certain exceptions (uninsured motorists coverage will probably pay for diminished value, and in a few States in the U.S. the courts allow for first party diminished value recovery).
2. If you are filing a claim against someone else’s insurance policy because that person was negligent, then you are third party to the contract, and you are entitled to recover diminished value.
I hope this has given a little clarity on the first party / third party confusion, and if it doesn’t clear it up for you, contact an expert like me who has a background in insurance claims and ask them to explain it to you. Any good and reputable company should have enough concern for their potential customers to answer the phone and provide honest feedback.
Sometimes it’s just in the Petty Details! Good luck.
Diminished Value Or Loss Of Value Claim: Getting Past The Hype
You may have come across this article in a Google or Yahoo search, but I would be willing to bet that this article was not the first result that popped up if you searched for diminished value, diminution of value, loss of value claim or something of the sort. If one searches directly for those terms, undoubtedly there will be tons of results that seem to be perfectly valid. You will likely locate many places or companies that claim to be able to calculate diminished value on an automobile loss. So how do you know who can and who can’t help you?
Diminished Value Research
My best advice: Do some research and don’t settle on that company that has spent all their money on marketing so that they can be first on the search list.
Companies that utilize those types of marketing tactics are normally places that have jumped on a bandwagon to make money on diminished value claims, and they will take your money and provide you with a substandard report. If you are looking to properly document a vehicle’s diminished value, then you need to know what the insurance company’s attorney will be looking for in the documentation.
Localized Information Is Key
Every vehicle has a different market, and every location in the U.S. has a different market. Do not believe that you can punch some information into a computer and magically get a diminished value calculation that the insurance company will accept. The only way the victim of an auto accident can successfully negotiate for a proper settlement is to utilize scientific methods to support their claim.
In the insurance industry, expert witnesses are called upon for many occasions when a claim is escalated to litigation – experts such as doctors, engineers, physicists, mechanics, appraisers, and adjusters. In each case, if an expert is to be taken seriously, the opposing side will request a “Daubert” challenge. In short, it is simply a way of making sure an expert really is an expert. Most companies that generate diminished value reports do not have the credentials, nor do they utilize a proper method in calculating diminished value.
In closing, use your noggin’ folks!
If you can’t get the diminished value expert on the phone, or if you are punching in numbers on a website and expecting to get paid for diminished value, then you’ll have a frustrating time getting your claim paid by any reputable insurance company.
Sometimes it’s just in the petty details.
Register to download our Free Diminished Value Claim Guide to get a compilation of all the information you are looking for to get your claim settled.
Diminished Value – How Does Texas Compare?
In Texas, if you file a third party auto claim, then if your claim meets certain standards, you would likely recover diminished value if the case went before a jury.
Negligence Law Rules
Texas compares to other states in this capacity through the negligence law rules. In Texas, if one is over 50% at fault for a loss, then they cannot recover damages from a less negligent party. The kicker is that if they are only 10% at fault, then that 10% can be deducted from their damage amount.
Some States have a law that applies negligence in a pure manner. For example, if you are 10% at fault, then you owe 10% of the other person’s damages. If you are 61% at fault, you can still recover 39% of your damages. The point, and to answer the question in the title of this article, is that YES you can get paid for diminished value in Texas.
What Is Diminished Value?
The simplest way to define diminished value is to use a common example. Let’s say you aspire to own a 1985 Mercedes Benz coupe, so you go out shopping for one. You hit all the markets, internet, classifieds, used car lots and the such, and you find 4 of them out there. There are some sweet deals out there. Let’s list them out as a purely hypothetical situation.
Car 1: It is black with a gold pinstripe. It has only 90,000 miles on it. The listing came from a dealer and the price on the vehicle is $12,000. The dealer ad says it was a one-owner vehicle, non-smoker, and no major issues. It is touted as being a “cherry”.
Car 2: This is a white one. It has 72,000 miles on it. This is a little old lady who got the car as a gift from her husband 4 years ago and she put it in the classifieds to try and sell it. She is asking $11,500 for it.
Car 3: Another dealer vehicle. It is Forest Green and has 80,000 miles on it. The dealer wants $12,200 for it.
Car 4: This one is another black one you found on E-bay. It has just 40,000 miles on it! It also has the gold pinstripe, and the owner says he is the original owner. He is asking $12,000 for it. It has new tires, and gold spoke aftermarket wheels!
Okay, so you can’t decide? There’s a lot to think about.
Which One Would You Choose?
You want black, so it’s between the black one at the dealer with 90,000 miles on it and the black one off of E-bay with 40,000 miles on it. You call both of them up and see who will give you the best deal. You are able to get the dealer to take $500 off theirs, and the individual also agreed to take $500 off – the dealer then reduces the price by another $200 because you mention the gold spoke wheels on the other car.
You think it is a done deal, right?
So, you call back the individual and start the talks about where to pick it up, how to pay and such, and you just casually ask the guy why he put the gold wheels on it. His answer is that a few months back, he ran over a curb trying to avoid a guy that ran a red light and it bent up the suspension and messed up the wheels and he ran into a chain link fence.
He says he has the estimate from the insurance company, so you get it from him and tell him you need to think about it. When you get the estimate, it is pretty much just like he says – there is about $5,000 worth of damage:
- The undercarriage and the oil pan
- Some sensors had to be replaced
- The frame had to be pulled back straight
- The passenger side of the vehicle had to be repaired and repainted due to scratches and minor dents from the chain link fence
- The owner says that the “check engine” light is on and he will take off another $100 which is what it would cost to have the light turned off. He said he has already had it looked at and they just told him the computer needed to be re-set after the repairs and that the light was not an actual problem, and he has been driving it with no problems for two months. He shows you the diagnostic bill reflecting $100 to turn off “check engine light”.
Now That You Know The Details, Which Do You Want?
You have two choices: The black one from the dealer (which has a clean Carfax with it), or the one from the individual? Keep in mind, the individual nor the dealer will move any more on their price.
I would be willing to bet that the individual with the previously “wrecked” car will never be able to sell his car for as much as a car that was not in a wreck, and he would have to take off more than $100 to sell it. I personally would not purchase the vehicle if he didn’t at least take $1500 off the price. There are just too many unanswered questions regarding the repair and whether something would go wrong in the future.
If you think you have a claim for diminished value in Texas or anywhere in the U.S. for that matter, give us a call at (214) 227-2154. We’ll tell you for free if you have a valid claim or not!
Diminished Value – 7 Tips To Find The Right Appraisal
You should have no problem finding a diminished value company on the internet, and my advice is to call the company and ask to speak to the owner. If you can’t speak to the owner, how will you make a complaint if you are not satisfied with your product?
Print this article and use it when you are on the phone with your diminished value company. See if they answer correctly, and if they don’t, move on!
1. Diminished value cannot be calculated using a formula.
A formula can’t be used because the used automobile market is variable, and a formula cannot incorporate all the variables. Don’t fall for the ol’ fill in the blank formula report, it will never hold up under scrutiny. Ask the company if they use a formula.
2. There must be actual data to support diminished value.
The opinion of a used car salesman will not cut it. There is no salesman out there that is an expert on every make and model of used vehicle and the current market for each and every vehicle, one has to research and document the market. Ask the company who obtains data for their reports.
3. Make sure your appraiser is familiar with tort law and adjusting procedures.
There are a lot of insider rules that only an adjuster can overcome. The appraisal must be presented in the correct format. Ask the company if they have a licensed adjuster on staff.
4. Ask them the hard questions.
Keep in mind that just because someone is an adjuster or has experience as an appraiser, this doesn’t mean they are smart and can write a credible diminished value report. Ask the company to define tort.
5. Your vehicle must be inspected in person.
If your expert does not inspect your vehicle, how in the heck can he/she determine the condition of your vehicle and document it? Ask the company if they can write a report without an inspection.
6. Find out if your expert answer your questions candidly
Does the expert seem knowledgeable – can they answer the hard questions or do they give you ambiguous answers to your questions. A real expert is just that, an expert, and they should be willing to tell you exactly how they are arriving at any specific conclusion. Simply ask them how they determine the diminished value.
7. Is your appraisal presented in the format required by the Uniform Standards of Appraisal Practice?
Just ask them flat out if they are conforming with the USAP.
Be Informed About Diminished Value!
You get the idea, I hope. Ask questions! Make sure your report is not just the opinion of a car salesman. Will your report be self explanatory, or will it simply have a bunch of prices listed for similar vehicles and then the opinion of an expert that says your vehicle has lost so and so amount of value?
Insurance companies don’t normally have a diminished value expert at their disposal and will normally just come up with a figure based on some formula that has not been evaluated and try to make you believe they are experts and their value is the correct value. Some companies will actually hire an outside “expert”. Your expert should be able to tell you if the insurance company is providing a valid report or not and help you pick out the parts that don’t hold water so as to help you successfully recover a fair amount on your claim. A good report will be easy to understand and will incorporate actual facts and sales data to reflect the true diminished value of any particular vehicle. Don’t get roped into purchasing a $400 opinion. Get yourself a real report that the insurance company will respect.
The Economy and Diminished Value
Current State Of The Economy
I have run into many insurance companies who use a “rule” for the age of the vehicle or for the mileage or for other factors. In fact, I was employed as an adjuster for a company that would not consider diminished value on a vehicle that was older than 8 years old, or that had over 100,000 miles on it (although if you sued them, they would take another look, hehe).
The problem with using a rule is that not every car fits within the rule. Take for example, a 1965 Ford Mustang. If this vehicle has been restored or even if it hasn’t, if it is in good condition, then the vehicle will definitely suffer inherent diminished value if it is involved in a substantial auto accident. If we stick with a 1965 Ford Mustang, then there are some other things about that vehicle that will cause the standard methods of calculating diminished value to fail.
Here are some of the factors one would have to consider on a “classic” vehicle:
- The market for a classic vehicle remains relatively unchanged.
- A moderate accident on a classic vehicle like this may not result in any diminished value at all because a classic vehicle that is “desirable” is expected to have had some work done on it. In fact, it is pretty common for a vehicle like the 1965 Ford Mustang to have panels replaced due to rust, or other wear and tear related damages (but not frame damage).
- No matter the mileage on a vehicle like a 1965 Ford Mustang, it is still a desirable vehicle, and if had been restored and then substantially damaged beyond cosmetic damages, it will suffer inherent diminished value.
The point I am making here is that each vehicle requires a valuation on its own merits.
A More Current Example of Diminished Value
As another example to demonstrate a more probable scenario for the average consumer, let’s look at a 1998 Honda Accord.
For a Honda Accord, we have to take a lot of factors into consideration. First of all, the area of the country where the claim is being handled will affect the marketability. For example, no offense to Floridians, but the average age group that lives in Florida is a little higher than the national average. An older age group fits into a different demographic than what is the prime market for a used 1998 Honda Accord. Get it?
Anyway, I’ll assume for this example that the area where we have to evaluate diminished value is in a place that is similar to the national trends for a vehicle like the 1998 Honda Accord.
Let’s see why a 1998 Honda Accord with over 100,000 miles would still have diminished value if it sustains any notable damages:
- The NADA book indicates that even up to 125,000 miles, that a 1998 Honda Accord would be considered to have lower than average mileage.
- Honda vehicles, especially the Accord model have always been marketed as economical when it comes to gas mileage and maintenance, and in my experience, this model does live up to this claim, and most people believe this about the Honda Accord.
- The current state of the economy (not as strong as we would like), causes some temporary trends related to “getting a bargain” to become apparent, and used auto sales traditionally increase in times of economic hardship.
- In relation to “getting a bargain” in times of economic hardship, used auto dealers are looking for ways to maximize profits, and they consistently ask for information related to prior damage when making trade in offers on used vehicles so as to acquire desirable vehicles at the lowest possible price.
- Insurance companies are becoming more and more connected with databases that house claim history, and companies such as CARFAX are becoming more and more prevalent in the used auto industry.
- 1998 Honda Accords were newly and drastically redesigned and don’t “look” as dated as they could as the body style remained very, very similar for another 3 or 4 years. So a 1998 Accord could be easily mistaken for a 2001 Accord which gives the prospective buyer a little more pride in their purchase.
If a professional gets involved, then you could have plenty of evidence to give the insurance company a valid challenge on their opinion of diminished value, you just have to know how to document the value properly (and most of the time an adjuster license like mine helps your credentials, hehe).
Just request a free claim consultation and we will contact you to give guidance on your diminished value claim.
What are the diminished value claim income tax benefits?
In Topic 515 on the Internal Revenue Service’s website, it discusses the types of losses that can be claimed on your income tax. Diminished value is specifically listed! They call it the “decrease in the fair market value”, and you can report this loss to save on your taxes. The decrease can be determined by obtaining a diminished value appraisal by a qualified company or individual, and it can be significant. Sometimes, depending on the situation, even the cost of repair can be utilized to further realize tax savings. There are special rules about taxes that I am not qualified to advise upon, but simply asking your tax professional or doing some diligent research should prove very worthwhile. Most of the time, an individual can find the help they need on the official IRS website.
Know The Rules!
– Evaluate your loss carefully. Make sure you realize that the first $100 of a property loss cannot be deducted from your taxes and the total loss on property must be more than 10% of your adjusted gross income.
For example: If you have an adjustable gross income of $50,000 per year, you would have to have a loss of at least $5101 to get even $1.00 deducted from your tax liability or “taxes owed”.
– Keep in mind that this information is not tax advice, just a re-statement of the rules freely available on the IRS website. You should contact a qualified tax professional if you are having trouble figuring out how to calculate your deduction.
– Not just any appraisal will work. Any appraisal or diminished value report you obtain will be held to strict standards by the IRS. The method of calculation, competency and knowledge of your appraiser will be evaluated. Make sure you get an adjuster or appraiser that knows what they are doing and is properly qualified when it comes to diminished value claims.
Also, although it seems like common sense, keep in mind that any payment you receive for loss of market value or diminished value cannot be claimed as a tax liability deduction! Small losses in market value are generally not going to reduce your tax liability unless you have no income. If you think you may qualify for tax benefits, be sure to consult a tax professional to help you get your loss properly deducted.
Good luck! Sometimes it’s just in the Petty Details!
After a wreck, you are probably asking “Does my brand new luxury car have diminished value?
A Diminished Value Claim And Luxury Cars
Insurance Claims Advice To Help You Find The Diminished Value Of A Luxury Vehicle
Was your luxury car in a wreck? If you own a high end vehicle like a Lexus, Mercedes, Cadillac, Infiniti, Bentley, Rolls Royse, Porsche, Maserati, BMW, Audi, Saab, or any other vehicle that is considered a luxury vehicle, then you should be thinking about diminished value if you were involved in a car accident.
No matter if you backed into a tree or if some negligent driver crashed into you, there is a possibility that your vehicle has lost value because of the simple fact that it was in an accident. Even if you took the vehicle to the best repair facility around, it doesn’t change the fact that your car was once wrecked. Diminished value is a concept that has been around for nearly 90 years. There is law relating to it in Georgia dating back to 1926!
What Can You Do About Diminished Value?
If you are in this situation what the heck can you do about it? You’ll get stories from both sides of the fence on this subject, and even professionals disagree. The thing that is constant is that courts consistently agree that diminished value is an element of damages. The question is whether you are filing against your own insurance company or whether you are filing against the policy of a person or business that caused your damages.
Specifically in high end or luxury vehicles, even a scratch can make the value of the vehicle depreciate substantially. It’s a known market trend in the luxury vehicle market that purchasers are looking for a blemish free vehicle with a blemish free history. Whether or not your insurance owes you is a complicated question that will require an expert in both insurance contracts and diminished value, but if someone caused your damages and you are filing on their insurance, then it’s just a matter of how much diminished value your vehicle suffered. Every State’s tort systems allows for the recovery of diminished value.
Do Your Research On Diminished Value!
In conclusion, if you have a luxury vehicle, you should thoroughly research diminished value. Even minor damages that have to be repaired can result in a significant difference in the before-accident value and the after-accident value. In some cases, there is not even a need to inspect a repaired vehicle as it is just inherent that the vehicle will suffer some loss in marketability and value. In cases when inspection is not required, all that is needed is a repair estimate and the accompanying invoices.
Find yourself a qualified professional that will honestly help you figure out if you have a claim worth pursuing BEFORE they charge you a dime.
Sometimes, it’s just in the Petty Details!
To answer “Does my total loss settlement include diminished value ? “
I think most people get this, but I get this question all the time, so I am writing this in an attempt to properly explain why a total loss settlement does not include diminished value.
- Let us define Diminished Value: It is the loss in re-sale value of a vehicle after it has been in a wreck and then repaired.
- Let us define Total Loss: This happens when the insurance company decides that they are not going to repair your vehicle.
There are a few things to realize when you are dealing with an automobile claim.
First, the insurance company is trying to get out for as cheap as possible. If you rant and rave right at the beginning of your claim about diminished value and rental and such, you will have a much higher probability that your vehicle is determined to be a total loss.
Next, don’t think that an insurance adjuster can’t change their mind. If they first tell you that your vehicle is repairable and then after they look at it a little better they decide that it is a total loss, there isn’t much you can do about it.
Third, don’t believe anybody that says there is a law about total losses. I am a licensed adjuster and have been handling claims for nearly 15 years and I am here to tell you there is no law about total losses. There is a law about when a vehicle title has to be flagged as a salvage vehicle, so maybe people are calling that law the total loss law, but be warned, the insurance company can declare your vehicle a total loss at any time prior to repairs being completed, and if they are brave, even after the repairs are done, but that gets a little sticky and will normally result in a lawsuit.
Total Loss – An Attractive Option
The total loss is attractive to insurance adjusters especially if they are dealing with a “difficult” customer. When a vehicle is totaled, in most States, the insurance company doesn’t have to pay for any more rental, so there is one big expense avoided.
Additionally, if they pay you for the fair market value of your vehicle BEFORE it got wrecked, then they are done with the claim. They paid you for your loss and you’re done. If you don’t agree with the value they quote you, it takes a bit of knowledge to get them to negotiate very much. Sure you can argue and argue and they may move up on the offer just a little to get you out of their hair, but it will not be a substantial difference.
You’ll have to hire an expert to really argue, and in my experience, people hire experts in the wrong situations.
You have to understand that the value an insurance company will pay you is based on how much you could get for your vehicle on the “private” market. You are not a dealer, you cannot get a retail price for your vehicle. You most likely don’t offer financing, can’t give a “certified” used car stamp, don’t do a 25 point inspection and do not have a huge marketing expense. The value you paid for your car, or the value of other cars sitting around on a dealer’s lot is not what the private value of your car is. Keep that in mind. If you disagree by $1500 or less, the insurance company is probably right about the value of your car, and you should give up the fight.
So How Do I Get Paid For Diminished Value or Loss Of Value After An Auto Accident?
The only time there is diminished value is if your vehicle is being repaired. If you are dealing with somebody else’s insurance company on the repair of your vehicle, and you don’t have a clunker, then you should research diminished value.
If you are dealing with your own insurance company, you could still qualify to get diminished value, but I would suggest you get an expert to give you some advice on whether or not you can successfully recover diminished value against your own carrier (see our article about first party diminished value claims). A lot of policies simply exclude that type of coverage. It is a matter of contract law vs. tort law, and I don’t know how to put it in any simpler terms.
In conclusion, a total loss never has diminished value.
It is a loss, therefore there is no more property available to have a value to diminish, get it? If you car is repairable, then yes, it will most likely suffer some diminished value, but whether you can collect it is based on contract law and tort law and varies according to the State where the accident occurred.
I hope this helps clear it up for you!
Asking yourself “What should I look for in a diminished value report?”
7 Things To Look For In A Diminished Value Report To Prove Your Diminished Value
What Do I Need To Prove Diminished Value?
In almost every successful recovery, an expert report on diminished value is required. As an expert in diminished value, my research indicates that diminished value exists in almost every case where a vehicle has been wrecked and then repaired.
Generally speaking, the lesser the value of the car is before the wreck, the lesser the diminished value is after repairs, but not always. There are many factors that should be evaluated in order to properly determine the amount of diminished value suffered by a vehicle. So here are seven things you can look for to see if the report from your diminished value expert is based in fact, or if it is faked!
1. Does the expert inspect the vehicle that has allegedly suffered diminished value?
If the expert (or expert’s staff) does not physically inspect the vehicle, then how can they be sure of the value? What if the repairs were terrible, or what if the insurance company or shop missed something? Clearly, the condition of the vehicle and quality of the repair work is important in determining the value of a vehicle.
2. Will the expert explain the scope and methodology used in determining your diminished value, and is the scope and methodology generally accepted as a way of credibly appraising damages and values?
3. Does the report evaluate the level of damages that the vehicle had sustained prior to collision repairs and rate the damage for the likelihood of future problems?
4. Does the report include photos of the vehicle?
5. Did your expert include data from dealers or individual consumers during the research process?
6. Did the expert calculate the pre-accident value of your vehicle properly, accounting for whether the vehicle is a specialty model or collectible, and all of its options?
A proper method uses more than one source and takes an average (we use five or more sources where available)
7. Did your expert inquire about warranties or previous accidents / repairs / maintenance?
A good expert will run a CarFax or AutoCheck for you (at no cost), and they will make sure they account for and disclose in their report any previous accident and will support the pre-accident value of the vehicle with maintenance information obtained from the owner (a well maintained vehicle is worth more than one that is not well maintained, right?).
I hope this helps you in your quest to decode diminished value. It takes knowledge of insurance processes and regulations and a lot of research. Successfully recovering on a third party diminished value claim heavily relies on how thoroughly your expert has documented your lost value and whether the methods the expert used are generally accepted methods, and not just a “guess”.
Sometimes it’s just in the Petty Details!
Info About Uninsured Motorist Diminished Value Claims
First Party Diminished Value Claim
Due to increasing litigation in the area of first party diminished value, there has arisen some confusion on this subject. Since this subject can be complicated and I want this article to be as informative and useful as possible, I am going to limit the information to Texas. This doesn’t mean that your State is not exactly the same as Texas, it just means that for sure, this is how it works in Texas. You would have to get a copy of your policy and thoroughly read the language in the uninsured/underinsured portion.
Let’s jump right in and address the title question:
1) The uninsured/under-insured portion of the standard Texas auto policy lays out the insuring agreement part as follows: (according to the Insurance Services Office)
A. We will pay damages which a covered person is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of an uninsured motor vehicle because of bodily injury sustained by a covered person or property damage caused by an accident. The owner’s or operator’s liability for these damages must arise out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the uninsured motor vehicle. Any judgment for damages arising out of a suit brought without our consent is not binding on us. If we and you do not agree as to whether or not a vehicle is actually uninsured, the burden of proof as to that issue shall be on us.
2) Now I will skip down a little in the standard policy to the next portion that is relevant to diminished value on an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim.
C. “Property Damage” as used in this Part means injury to, destruction of or loss of use of:
- Your covered auto, not including a temporary substitute auto.
- Any property owned by a “covered person” while contained in your covered auto.
- Any property owned by you or any family member while contained in any auto not owned, but being operated, by you or any family member.
Interpreting The Terms
As an adjuster, the way I interpret this coverage is very clear. The wording is not confusing to me.
The definition of property damage in the standard policy under the uninsured/underinsured portion clearly says that injury to or destruction of property is covered so long as it was caused by a collision with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Unless your policy has a special endorsement that specifically excludes diminished value as a part of an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim, then it should be covered, right?
Diminished value is definitely injury to your vehicle! Most States have very similar wording in the uninsured/underinsured motorist portion of their policies, so it is worth taking a look at the specific language and endorsement on your policy to see if your policy is similar and will cover diminished value.
As a little further clarification…
Keep in mind that Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage is a first-party coverage, meaning the person making the claim also bought the policy or purchased the coverage. The confusion out there is that the Texas Supreme Court has made a ruling that says first-party diminished value cannot be recovered. This is only under the collision/comprehensive portion of the policy where the language reads that the insurance company will “repair or replace” the damaged property. The UM portion of the policy does not contain the repair or replace language, it is meant to pay the policyholder as if it were a liability policy for the uninsured or underinsured motorist. It is also notable that if there are multiple vehicles involved in a collision and the person that caused the accident has insurance, but not enough, then you can use your UM coverage to make up the difference, including diminished value!
First-party diminished value claims are not dead, they’re just hard to understand!
Fleet Or Rental Cars And Diminished Value – Is It Real?
Yes and no.
Rental cars can have diminished value, but the diminished value must be documented properly. The majority of demands for diminished value on rental cars I received were very poorly documented. In fact, most had no supporting documentation at all. They would simply state that we owed such and such amount for diminished value. I never paid a rental company for diminished value on their vehicle if they did not provide evidence that the vehicle sustained it.
Using The Law Of Numbers
The reason the rental company makes such a poor demand is that some insurance companies will simply pay it, especially if it is a low amount, like $250 or so. Some of the larger rental companies use this tactic in hopes of getting an easy partial reimbursement without a fight. They simply ask for diminished value, and if it is paid, then they get at least some money without having to invest any time or money into researching diminished value. What most rental companies fail to do is to actually fight for diminished value if their demand is rejected. Sure, the diminished value on a rental vehicle that has been wrecked is normally less than the it would be on a non-rental vehicle that has been wrecked, but the actual amount is likely to be much more than the boilerplate $250 demand that rental companies make.
Here is the evidence against rental diminished value…
- Consumers looking to buy a used vehicle generally view a prior rental vehicle as a vehicle that has been “ragged out”.
- Rental vehicles are not generally specialty or collector vehicles, so their demand is a general one.
- Rental vehicles normally have high mileage for their year model which decreases the average value within the same class of non-rental vehicles.
Here is some evidence for rental diminished value (inherent)…
- Rental vehicles normally have very accurate maintenance records.
- Rental cars are detailed on a regular basis, and are normally very clean.
- Major damages to rental cars are almost always repaired professionally at certified body shops.
- Rental vehicles are almost always sold at dealer auctions where buyers are especially knowledgeable about evidence of collision repairs.
Diminished value on a rental car is not a scam, it is real.
The way many rental companies demand it is a scam. Rental companies could decrease their losses if they spent a little money obtaining expert reports on diminished value.
If you are an individual, be sure to read your rental contract closely. You do not want an unsubstantiated diminished value charge showing up on your credit card bill. If you are rental car company, do the research on diminished value, it may be that you are owed more than you think, and obtaining an expert report could keep your losses to a minimum.
Sometimes, it’s just in the petty details!
4 Steps To Filing A Diminished Value Claim After An Auto Accident
How to properly file a claim is always the same, no matter what.
Here are the basic steps to filing a diminished value claim:
1. You first have to document your diminished value.
If you are an adjuster or auto appraiser, then depending on your training, you may be able to document your own diminished value, but if you are not adequately trained, or if you are not an adjuster or appraiser, then you will need a credible report from a professional expert in the field of diminished value.
I must say that when I was an adjuster, if I saw a report that did not include a vehicle inspection, I simply ignored it. In order to meet with the requirements set forth in official appraising practices, it is almost always required that an appraiser inspect the property and utilize an accepted evaluation method. If you document your damages poorly or improperly, you will not get a satisfactory settlement.
2. You now have to send the insurance company a written demand.
The way you present your diminished value demand can be crucial, I suggest putting a time limit on the demand. You should send a written demand explaining specifically how much you are demanding, and why you believe it is valid (like refer to the attached report), and indicate when you expect to receive a settlement offer. Most reputable diminished value companies can provide you with a sample demand letter to assist you.
After documenting your diminished value claim and submitting a written demand for the money you deserve, give it two days and then call the claims department and as for a written status on your diminished value demand. If you are unable to get a written status, move up the chain of command and get a supervisor, and then the claims manager, and then the VP of claims, and then the claims President, and then. . . you get the idea.
4. While waiting on the insurance company to offer you a settlement or deny your claim, research your options in small claims court.
Unless you have a very expensive luxury vehicle, your diminished value should be within the limits of most small claims courts. Many insurance companies will “try their luck”. They will simply claim there is no diminished value, stick their feet in the mud, and either ignore you or simply tell you the same thing every time you call. In order to un-stick their feet, you may need to take legal action. Even a small claims suit will get their attention and require that they quit ignoring you. If the company hires its own diminished value expert, thoroughly compare the reports and make note of any differences.
Many experts work exclusively for insurance companies and will fail to do any research on the market; they will simply state there is no diminished value because the repair is proper.
This is not the case and they know it. They are trying to see if you will fight. Better to spend $100.00 to get an appraiser to say there is no diminished value and use that to offer you a ridiculous settlement than pay what the market really says you are owed.
Many people give up when the company hires an expert. Don’t give up! I would ask for the credentials of the expert and make sure I thoroughly understood how they arrived at a value. If they can’t explain it to you, how will they explain it to a jury?
If your vehicle was in wreck and it is being repaired, then it has suffered diminished value.
Depending on your specific situation, and if you follow the steps above, you will get one of two things:
- A settlement check.
- A requirement to decide whether to fight for your money in court.
Sometimes, it’s just in the petty details!
Do you have tips to help win a diminished value settlement?
7 Tricks To Help You Cash In
In an effort to provide some genuine free help to the public, I have compiled the 7 most helpful tidbits relating to how to get your diminished value claim paid. This article assumes that you are either filing against your own uninsured motorist coverage or are filing against another person’s insurance policy.
Diminished Value Claims from beginning to end – let’s get right to it!
Tip #1: Do not indicate that you want your vehicle totaled!
If the insurance company totals your vehicle, then you will not be able to recover diminished value and you will be stuck fighting about how much your vehicle is worth.
Tip #2: Don’t talk about diminished value
If the insurance company elects to repair your vehicle, do not even think about mentioning to the adjuster that you even know about diminished value.
Tip #3: Pick your own body shop
Don’t let the insurance company refer you to their DRP (direct repair facility). If you take your vehicle to a shop that has a deal with an insurance company, you will be left out of the loop on how the repairs are made.
Tip #4: Don’t argue about LKQ parts or aftermarket parts.
If your vehicle is not a luxury vehicle or brand new, let them use whatever parts they can find – it will help to keep your vehicle from being declared a total loss.
Tip #5: Check your vehicle repairs carefully
Do not sign a release or remove your vehicle from the shop until you are completely satisfied with the repair job.
Tip #6: Hire an expert
Once the repairs are complete and before you remove the vehicle from the shop, contact a reputable expert in diminished value and obtain a stand-alone report that includes market research data, actual sales data, and one that conforms to the uniform standards of appraisal practice. If the expert you contact cannot guarantee in writing that all of this criteria will be in their report, then look elsewhere for help. A quality diminished value report will cost at least $250.00 and should cost no more than $400.00 for a private passenger automobile. The final report should also include a title history check report.
Tip #7: Present a written demand for your diminished value to the insurance company
Include a time limit for the insurance company to respond, and be prepared to take your case to small claims court from the beginning. Do not believe for one minute that you cannot collect diminished value by suing. The only question will be how much you can recover, and if you are confident, well informed, stern in your demand, but willing to negotiate a little, you will do fine.
If you will utilize these seven bits of information, you will be able to accomplish one of two things…
1 – You will get paid for your diminished value
– or –
2 – You will find out that some insurance companies/adjusters are stupid, and you will have to sue to get your money
Sometimes it’s just in the petty details! Good luck.
Trying to find the secret to recovering diminished value ?
There’s No Secret To Calculating Diminished Value Of A Car After An Auto Accident
Two Biggest Problems Consumers Have When They Try To Recover Their Loss Of Value Claim
I’ve seen quite a few articles about diminished value being the biggest secret in the auto insurance industry. I’m here to tell you that it is not a secret, it is just something that most insurance adjusters don’t understand. They all know about it, and so do you, or you wouldn’t have searched for it and found this article. The problem is that nobody seems to know how to properly calculate it. The 17c formula is a joke.
It just takes a little hard work and some credentials. There are few companies that utilize a proper scientific method for calculating diminished value. In 14 years of adjusting, I have seen less than five reports that would probably be good evidence in a civil trial.
Simply because one has a lot of experience in auto claims or in selling vehicles or in appraising damages doesn’t mean that they can properly calculate diminished value. Additionally, nobody, no matter how much experience they have, can provide a diminished value without gathering market and sales data.
If there is anything like a secret when it comes to diminished value claims, then it has to be in the way a claimant negotiates. The biggest problem I run into is ignorant adjusters and the tactic that many companies use which is “playing dumb”.
Problem #1: The adjuster simply doesn’t understand diminished value.
This adjuster has been trained to deny payment and if that doesn’t work, then the “physical damage” department will come up with some ridiculous figure to offer and nobody will be able to argue the merit of their diminished value calculation. They will simply expect you to take their offer because they are the “experts”.
This is a hard scenario to overcome and it takes some specialized tactics. One would be well served to call someone that is a real expert in insurance claims and negotiation tactics, or an attorney.
Problem #2: The company plays dumb.
Their tactic is to just act like they have never heard of diminished value. Again this is a hard tactic to overcome. The best way of handling these companies is to be well informed. Sometimes, citing some case law precedence is the best way to let the insurance company know you are not playing their game. Believe me, there is no insurance company out that that is not aware of diminished value, but they all seem to handle it in a different manner.
The bottom line on diminished value is that it exists, and there is a way to document and calculate it which will hold water in front of a jury. If you have a diminished value claim, your job is to find a reputable expert that will help you figure out how to get your money and that can write you a report that substantiates a diminished value calculation.
Sometimes it’s just in the petty details!
Looking for the official rules to file a diminished value claim ?
We have never seen an official rule book about diminished value. Even in Georgia, there is no rule. Each case involving diminished value must be evaluated on its own merit.
Need to know whether you have a first or third party claim ?
If you are filing a claim against your own insurance company, whether it is a uninsured / underinsured motorist claim, or a collision / comprehensive claim, then you have a first party claim.
If you are filing a claim against someone else’s insurance, you have a third party claim.
Are you really owed diminished value?
What do you think? Do you think your car is worth less after an auto accident, even though the repairs are complete. How do you know the problems that lie down the road?
If you live in a couple of privileged States, then the answer is ALWAYS yes (if there is actually any lost value), whether the accident was your fault or not! If you live anywhere in the US, then if you have a third party claim, the answer is always yes (if you actually have any lost value)!
What is the diminished value law in my state?
Lots of states operate the same when it comes to diminished value law but there are some nuances.
We can show you where to find the laws in your State, and we can provide you with a list of case law citations that you can browse through that are related to diminished value. We cannot provide legal advice. Call at (214) 227-2154 or email with your specific questions and I’m sure we can assist you with finding the answers you need. It’s what we do!
How do I know you’re a true diminished value expert ?
You can’t! You have to have a little bit of trust in your gut.
You have to talk to the expert and come up with the hard questions to see how they handle them! Ask about small claims, ask about phone calls to the adjuster after the report has been submitted. Don’t hire someone who will take your money, write you a report and then SCRAM! Lots of guys just tell their clients they have to get an attorney if they get a denial and that is simply NOT TRUE! For the smaller claims, it is impossible to find that kind of help from an attorney because it just isn’t worth it to them. We take up the slack in that area and consult with accident victims throughout the process so they walk away with their diminished value claim settled!
We are the real deal, believe it or not. Our founder has over 17 years experience evaluating property damages, making us uniquely qualified to handle even the most difficult and complex of damage scenarios with ease. Our services help settle property damage disputes daily and are used by attorneys and individuals alike. Let us give you a free claim consultation and you decide for yourself whether or not we’re experts.
Is your vehicle too old for diminished value?
We pride ourselves on being the most credible and thorough specialists when it comes to determining a realistic figure for residual diminished value. Many times, accident victims are surprised at how much their diminished value claim is really worth. Even though their vehicle seems too old for diminished value, a lot of factors go into determining the figure and many vehicles hold their value much longer than others.
As an example, one of our customers owned a 1998 Honda Accord. The vehicle had over 120,000 miles on the odometer. The vehicle sustained a little over $2000 in damages to the front driver side. The vehicle was really only worth about $4500 at the time, but it was highly desirable because it was tough times (2008) and economical used cars were hot (like they still are).
Honda has a very good reputation, and a long story short, there was some diminished value on the vehicle. Not much, but we were able to get the claim settled with the insurance company by professionally documenting the case. We never charge for a report until we have determined the actual diminished value amount that the report will reflect.
Whew! Does that cover it?
There’s always the possibility that your policy excludes diminished value.
The Insurance Services Office approved language for an exclusion to be included in personal auto policies that relates directly to diminished value.
Another common denial is that the insurance company will claim that they “don’t pay diminished value”. We find that whether diminished value is paid is really up to a judge and jury if that is what it takes so sometimes you have to be willing to fight, fight, fight! You have the burden to prove your case and that is why you need the best diminished value expert on your side. The twists and turns can sometimes be confusing and shut down a lot of claims if the victim doesn’t have the right help.
YOUR BEST SOLUTION:
Ask for a copy of your policy and review it with a diminished value expert (like us!) to determine whether or not you want to pursue a diminished value claim. We give free claim consultations all the time, and normally for free (depending on circumstances).
Want our help finding the answers? Request a free claim consultation to discuss your claim in depth.
You can download our free diminished value guide today for many of the answers you need all in one place.
WHAT? You’re already worried that you won’t be paid? lol Well, that is common but that is also highly unlikely because we screen cases very carefully to avoid wasting money or time. This concern is exactly why we have a thorough free claim consultation right up front to dispel diminished value myths, answer hard questions and explain our process from beginning to end.
In the rare case that your diminished value claim is not paid and you cannot settle the case on your own, we can point you to a network of professionals that can potentially assist you with finding an attorney to help you with your diminished value claim denial, and we can definitely show you where to find all the information you need to be able to pursue a small claims action on your own.
Each case is different, but our success rate for settled diminished value claims is the highest in the industry. We simply refuse to fail. If you are unsatisfied with our services, let us know and we will do anything we can to change your experience into a successful and pleasant one. We do not control how insurance carriers handle diminished value claims, so we cannot guarantee a fair settlement (neither will most attorneys, though). What we can guarantee is that your diminished value report will be accurate.
Unfortunately, we can’t. In our reports, we have to certify that we are a disinterested third-party that has no stake in if your claim is paid or not. Therefore, we charge a flat fee up front and give great follow up service after our report is delivered to help you come to a conclusion on your claim!
We accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Paypal and can even send a Quickpay request via Chase. We also accept checks but services won’t be rendered until the check is received in our office.
There are no guarantees in life and diminished value is no exception! When you decide to pursue a diminished value claim, it’s up to you to take the risk and be persistent (with our guidance) to get settlement. We will be there every step of the way but we can’t guarantee how hard you will fight. We do make it our priority to follow up consistently with you until the claim is resolved and we’ve only had a handful that either gave up the fight or settled for lower than what we thought was fair.
Chances are, if you have found us it is because you can’t find an attorney to help you with a small valued claim or your attorney has directed you to call us for help! We are not attorneys and never give legal advice but we have helped many savvy customers navigate their way all the way through small claims court to get settlement and we aren’t afraid of a fight.
If you aren’t willing to put in the time and you have a fairly large claim ($8500 and up), then it is probably wise to get an attorney on your side. If you are injured and need help with that side of your damages, you should definitely seek out the help of legal defense.
YES! With the help of professional appraisers across the U.S., we are able to help clients in any state. If you hire us to help you, we use an inspector from our trusted network of professional appraisers to perform a Post Repair Inspection (if needed) and use that report to develop our report. From there, we are available via phone, email, even webcam to discuss your claim and help you move to resolution.
We definitely don’t claim to be tax professionals so it would probably be wise to discuss that topic with a trusted accountant/tax preparer.
We are not attorneys so we never give legal advice or claim that we will represent you to get your claim settled. What we WILL do is answer all of your questions throughout the process, explain your options and make phone calls with you to discuss our report and methodology to try to facilitate settlement of your property damages.