Here’s the lowdown on claiming a diminished value claim from an insurance company. That claim might never see the light of day. And don’t expect these insurers to be all congenial and cooperative when you present your claims; they will do whatever it takes to wrangle their way out of it.
It’s pretty much in the same vein how unscrupulous HMOs with devious medical directors would operate when trying to deny you your health insurance benefits. You are entitled to these and at the same time you’re not. If you come unprepared to substantiate your claims, then be prepared to hear all sorts of excuses until you’ve had enough and you are forced to just drop your case. Here then are some helpful pointers on how you can make a diminished value claim to help you recover a significant fraction of your losses.
Before going that route, make an honest if not impartial assessment of your vehicle. Is it really worth all that trouble pursuing a diminished value claim? Consider this as an essential pre-step before you proceed to take on the next few steps. If your vehicle has been around and seen the worst of times, then maybe it’s better to just stand down. If lawyers have to be dragged in the process, your eventual legal fees could far exceed the value of your seasoned yet ailing vehicle. It’s best to cut your losses immediately.
However, if you’re talking about a brand new luxury sedan that’s just rolled off the showroom but had the misfortune of undergoing unforeseen circumstances, then this would be worth taking the fight to the insurer. But before that, know to whom you’re taking the fight. In this regard, it’s important to make the distinction between first-party claim and third-party claim.
Research about your state’s laws regarding how they measure diminished value and their stance on first-party claims versus third-party claims. First party is when you ask your insurance company directly for diminished value claim. Third party is when you ask the other party’s insurance company to shoulder the claim. Naturally, third-party claims only work out if you’re the victim of the other party’s lapse in road judgment.
However, for first-party claims, you can expect insurance companies to give you the turnaround if not ignore you outright. But here’s how you can get them to cooperate bit by bit. Tell them about your case and ask for the best repair shop affiliated with them. In this case, don’t let that damage linger. Have your vehicle repaired immediately and hope that the shop recommended (nay, imposed) by your insurer will do a brilliant job of restoring your vehicle. Later when you come across the term “Repair-Related Diminished Value,” you would appreciate the difference between going all out and going cheap on those repairs.
While your car is in the shop for rehabilitation, this would be the best time now to research on the value of your vehicle prior to the accident. This would serve as your take-off point in determining its eventual resale value.
Getting a Diminished Value Appraisal
After your car has rolled out of the repair shop, it’s now time to get a professional appraiser. They will arrive at an estimate of your car’s current value based on what it was worth prior to the accident (which could be largely based on your research) and what it’s worth after repairs. What is crucial here is the quality of repairs done on your vehicle. If it turned out that the shop that your insurance company recommended did hasty repairs that failed to restore your vehicle at least close to its original form, then you can be loading up your ammo when it’s finally time to file your claim. It’s important that you have this appraisal documented so you can make a very good case.
Making the Diminished Value Claim: Outcomes
Here are two possible scenarios when you finally make your diminished value claim with your insurance company or the third party’s insurer. They can reject it outright or offer compensation less than the diminished value claim. Do not flinch or back down or, worse, give in to their persistence. If they remain adamant in short-changing you, then off you go to your next step which is to take your case to a small claims court. If the diminished value claim is in the area of thousands of dollars, then this would be worth the trouble.
However, if the filing fees and legal costs will prove much more than the diminished value claim, most especially if you’re trying to fight for a vehicle that has seen better days, then maybe it’s best not to pursue the claim at all.