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!
Posted in: Diminished Value