Frequently Asked Questions - What Is a Diminished Value Claim?
All vehicles are built differently, and some are made to withstand more impact than others. After an auto accident, you may be left with small scrapes or your vehicle may be a tangled mess. If your vehicle sustained minor to moderate damage, the accident will still be reported to the state and the information will be made readily available for anyone wanting to purchase your vehicle in the future if you were to sell it at some point. When you sell a vehicle that has been in an auto accident, the information will show up on the Car Fax report and will diminish the value of the vehicle. After an accident, you have the right to submit a diminished value claim to the at fault insurance company. If you were hit by a vehicle who did not have auto insurance, your own insurance company will pay for any repairs to your vehicle through your collision coverage if you have collision coverage available to you. If this is the route you must take, you will be unable to file a diminished value claim as your own insurance company prohibits you from filing a diminished value claim against your own insurance carrier. If you are hit by someone who has a valid insurance policy but only has a minimal property damage policy, you may be limited to what you can do. If your vehicle costs $11,000.00 to repair and the person who hit you only has a $10,000.00 property damage policy, the insurance company will pay you $10,000.00 towards your damages and you will either have to make up the difference out of your own pocket or your insurance company will pay the rest if you have collision coverage. Or to make life easier, your own insurance carrier can pay for your damages out of your collision coverage and then your insurance company will subrogate the at fault insurance carrier to get as much of their money back as possible. Any deductibles you pay out of pocket will be reimbursed to you after your insurance company is reimbursed by the at fault insurance carrier.
After an auto accident, if your vehicle is considered a total loss, the insurance company will pay you for however much your vehicle is worth taking mileage and pre-existing damage into consideration. If you still owe the finance company for the vehicle, the insurance company first has to pay off the remaining finance charge to the finance company and then send you the difference from whatever is left after paying off the vehicle. If the vehicle is worth less than what you still owe on the vehicle, your GAP insurance will then kick in and pay the difference to the finance company, leaving you with a $0 balance. If you do not have GAP insurance, the insurance company will pay the finance company the amount the vehicle is worth and you will still be responsible for paying the difference out of your own pocket which will leave you with no money to purchase another vehicle. If you are luckier to be involved in an accident where your vehicle was not deemed a total loss, the insurance company will evaluate the vehicle and pay you the amount of the estimate. You will then take the vehicle to a repair facility and pay them with the money you received from the insurance company. A much easier way to do this is to take your vehicle to a repair facility either of your choosing or which the insurance company recommends, have them make out an appraisal, send it to the insurance company and have the insurance company pay the body shop directly. This saves you a headache as if the body shop pulls the vehicle apart and finds additional damage, you will not have to be the middle man going back and forth between the shop and the insurance company to get the insurance company to pay for the additional damages. While your vehicle is being repaired, the insurance company will usually be able to acquire a rental vehicle for you while you are without your own vehicle for a few days.
After your vehicle is repaired, your insurance company will be able to give you a copy of the estimate showing a breakdown of the repairs, parts and how much it cost to fix your vehicle in total. If you plan on filing a diminished value claim against the at fault insurance company, you will need to take the repaired vehicle to a dealership to get them to estimate how much they would buy the vehicle for. It is probably a good idea to get a few estimates to compare. Once you have the estimates from the dealerships along with your repair estimate, you can submit these to the at fault insurance company and ask them to pay you the difference between the sale price and the repairs. You will have to formally request the insurance company pursue a diminished value claim as insurance companies will never automatically offer you money for a diminished value claim. Insurance companies try to save themselves as much money as possible when it comes to paying out for auto accidents and not many people realize that they are entitled to extra money for a diminished value claim, so you will have to submit your documents with a written request for the diminished value amount. The adjuster will review your claim and will likely offer you a smaller amount, but you can try to negotiate with the adjuster to get their offer up as high as they will go. If there are several vehicles involved in the accident and there is a minimal property damage policy, it is highly unlikely that there will be any money left over for a diminished value claim after having to pay for repairs to all vehicles and rental vehicles while those repairs are being made. Always be sure to ask the insurance company for a copy of their insured’s declarations page prior to accepting any settlements if you do not have an attorney, that way you can see in writing how much coverage there is available.