If you’ve ever been in an accident – even one where no one was injured – you know what a hassle it is to deal with insurance companies, get your car repaired, and get your claim paid. But the truth is that, even if the body shop does a great job in restoring your car so it looks as good as new, it simply isn’t worth as much as an identical car that’s never been in an accident. With resources like CARFAX, people who are in the market for a used car can find out that yours has been in a wreck, and as a result, expect to pay less.
The difference between the market price of a vehicle that’s been in an accident and one that hasn’t is known in the insurance industry as “diminished value.” What you may not know is that, if you weren’t at fault in the accident, in many states, the other driver’s insurance company should compensate you for that diminished value.
Here’s the twist: Diminished value claims are a lot like Lemon Law claims. Just as car manufacturers make you jump through hoops, put up roadblocks, and try to get out of paying Lemon Law claims, insurance companies use loopholes and roadblocks to get out of paying diminished value claims. Like Lemon Law claims, you can try to file a diminished value claim yourself, but it’s worth it to let the professionals handle it.
Every insurance company has a different procedure for handling diminished value claims, yet the burden of proof is always on you. There are online services that will, for a fee, send you a report or do a vehicle inspection substantiating your car’s diminished value, but you’ll still have to fight the insurance company yourself.
There is a company that I’ve run across that will file and settle your claim for you – and won’t charge a dime unless they get the insurance company to pay. Advocate Auto Claims will give you a free diminished value estimate, and answer any questions you might have about diminished value. Plus, they have a staff of licensed adjustors who can initiate, substantiate, process, negotiate, and settle your diminished value claim.
If, in the past four years, you’ve been in an accident that wasn’t your fault, your vehicle sustained more than $1,000 in damage, and your car’s worth more than $5,000, it’s definitely worth it to pursue a diminished value claim.