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    Thread: Anyone been successful getting "diminished value" compensation after a wreck?

    1. Member
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      04-10-2013 05:02 PM #1
      Truck ran into my parked car last Saturday. $8K damage. Dealer estimates the wreck has devalued my car $4K, assuming repairs go very well. However, I have heard some horror stories of insurance companies refusing to pay for this diminished value. Anyone here been there and was successful? Don't want to get a lawyer involved because they will eat a large chunck of what I'd get but I have no qualms going to small claims court myself if needed.
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    2. Member Williamttrs's Avatar
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      04-10-2013 10:16 PM #2
      I think you have zero chance of getting this from your insurance (unless you have some kind of special rider for diminished value). Here is why I think this.

      1. An insurer promises to repair your vehicle or pay you the "total value" (at their discretion), if the vehicle is damaged beyond about 70% of its value. All of these numbers are based on a super secret inter-agency document that they all agree to use. Repair to them means to bring back into a similar condition. This is also how they get away with using refurb parts.

      2. They will spend a million dollars on lawyers to protect this principle because losing this fight over and over again will cost the industry hundreds of millions.

      I had a major accident in a 335i about 5 years ago. My insurance company fought me on a different but related principle. After 4 years of fighting and $30K in lawyers fees for me and a lot more for them, all I could get from them was a draw. We agreed to drop everything in exchange for them paying my attorneys fees, plus a little more AND a nondisclosure about the specifics of the settlement. Of course no admission of guilt was a part of the agreement and nothing is in a public record for some other wild eyed attorney to use as precedent.

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      04-11-2013 10:48 AM #3
      My wreck was not my fault (I was parked at the time) so I am dealing with the other driver's insurance. Also, there was obviously no personal injury so things are simpler.

      I just finished talking to folks at my insurance to get a feel for gereral protocol. I've also talked to several appraisers that I will have to deal with as I proceed. The outlook is good.

      First, most insurance companies have specific language in their policies to not pay diminished value on your car if you are responsible for an accident.

      However, if I am in an accident and it is my fault, my insurance will pay for diminished value for the other driver's vehicle but the other driver has to ask for it. They will require the other driver to get an appraisal which will cost the owner several hundred dollars that is not re-imbursable, and negotiations start from there. For the vast majority of cars on the road, the diminshed value you might get is not much more than the appraisal fee. In my case, it is substantial.

      Given this policy for my insurance company, I plan to ask the other driver's insurance for diminished value. If they refuse, I will take the other driver to small claims court and represent myself. In my experience, small claims court bends over backwards to give folks like me the benefit of the doubt if a bunch of lawyers show up for the other driver. I will present in evidence 2 appraisals and a statement from my insurance company of what they would do in this situation. I think this will be a slam-dunk and the other drivers insurance will have to pay court costs and perhaps even my appraisal fees. I don't have a lot of experience with small claims court but I have found that insurance companies want to settle after their client has been served with a summons to appear in court for a suit.

      Given the information I have, I also don't think I have to worry about my suit being declared frivolous and be responsible for the defendant's attorney costs. So the most I will lose is about $400 in appraisal fees and court cost.
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    4. Administrator Tim@Fourtitude's Avatar
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      04-11-2013 02:25 PM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by Vegas-RoadsTTer View Post
      First, most insurance companies have specific language in their policies to not pay diminished value on your car if you are responsible for an accident.

      However, if I am in an accident and it is my fault, my insurance will pay for diminished value for the other driver's vehicle but the other driver has to ask for it.

      This was my experience. I was in an accident several years ago where the other driver pulled an illegal U-turn out of the right lane while I was in the left lane, causing me to T-bone him. The accident was 100% his fault, and I ended up getting a diminished value claim paid on my car. I told his insurance company that I was super anal retentive about my car, and so before their client's actions my car was in absolutely perfect shape. After the repairs it would be valued less even if the repairs were perfect simply for having been in an accident, and that I expected them to make me whole on that. They agreed, since their client was at total fault.

      I think the total repairs on the car were around $9,000 or so. His insurance told me to go get the car appraised at a dealership and get them to note how much they felt it was devauled by the accident. They wrote me up an appraisal stating it was devalued by $5,000. The insurance company had an appraiser who said it was only devalued by $1,500. We settled for something on the high side of the middle of that.

      Like anything else with an insurance company, it is negotiable. Their job is of course to let as little money out the door as possible, but they will negotiate on most things (to a point) to avoid incurring other manpower costs by going to court and such. Their first offer is always going to be a massive lowball, but you can work on them.

      Good luck with it.

      -Tim

    5. Member LynxFX's Avatar
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      04-11-2013 03:51 PM #5
      I wish I fought more. Right before I was going to sell (trade-in) my SLK I was merged into by a lady. Did about $1500 worth of damage, completely her fault. I didn't push to get loss of value. Prior to that the car was perfect. I'm pretty sure I lost a couple grand on the trade-in because it had an accident report.

    6. Member Williamttrs's Avatar
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      04-11-2013 04:14 PM #6
      I guess I should read the OP more carefully before commenting! I was just reminising the nightmare experience I had. I agree entirely that the liability coverage of the other driver should cover your deminished value.

      About 10 years ago my wife was hit head on by a teenager who was attempting to pass on a two lane road. I fought with the kids insurance for 6 months and finally took them to court and won. The court experience was a lot of fun. If I had to do it over again, I would skip the fighting with the insurance carrier and just file suit. The only caveate is that I would only do this if the claim could be handled in small claims court. You absolutely have the upper hand here. When the numbers get bigger, the insurance carrier gets dirtier. If I had a claim that exceeded the small claims limit but did not exceed $30K, I would just take would I could get from the small claims process and then lick my wounds! I must have wasted hundreds of hours over four years on my battle with the BMW wreck.

    7. n00b
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      04-11-2013 06:40 PM #7
      Yes, I've been successful and I recommend you pursue this if appropriate.
      When my 2010 TTS was only 3 months old with 4,000 miles on the clock, I was rear ended by a Range Rover (his front end looked worse than my rear!). I had USAA and he had Geico, so I filed through my own carrier knowing the repair shops all agreed that USAA was easier to deal with compared to Geico when it came to getting the car done right. Geico admitted liability and paid my deductible. I immediately hired an appraiser who was familiar with diminished value claims. Cost $350 for a full report with photos, evaluations, etc. After my car was fixed through USAA, I wrote Geico a demand for diminished value (the TTS can no longer be sold as a CPO even though the body/frame work was all done first class), loss of use of the vehicle (driving a Chrysler Sebring convertible POS for 2 months rather than a brand new Solar Orange TTS), and the additional car rental charges not covered by USAA's $15/day allowance. The appraiser's report called for about $9K, which I though was a bit much, but we wound up settling quickly for $3900 from Geico covering the diminished value (about $2k), and the rest for loss of use and the rental balance. A fair return on the $350 investment for the professional appraisal report. I urge you to get a professional appraisal report ASAP before you start making demands. Lots of Insurance companies will blow you off if they don't see that you've got an appraiser who will testify in court for you. And while you may not want to use an attorney, you should let them know that you WILL if they don't work with you in good faith. While I AM an attorney, and Geico was aware of that, I would have hired someone else to handle it had the Geico adjuster acted like a jerk. As it was, the Geico guy was upfront and professional, and nobody had to waste a lot of time blowing smoke up each other's butt. Please note, laws on this will vary by state (I'm in Florida), so you might want to at least consult with a local attorney before pulling the trigger.

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      04-11-2013 08:33 PM #8
      "his front end looked worse than my rear" - so this guy's car was sooo ugly that it was uglier than your ass? LOL

      My insurance recommended a professional appraiser to use to get started and he's only $200. He said to bring it in once repairs are finished and I'll go from there. I have no qualms about going small calims court, if needed. I still have all my CPO docs from 3 months ago saying the car was pristine.

      Thanks everyone.
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    9. 04-11-2013 10:37 PM #9
      Quote Originally Posted by DBart View Post
      I had USAA and he had Geico, so I filed through my own carrier knowing the repair shops all agreed that USAA was easier to deal with compared to Geico when it came to getting the car done right.
      Point of clarification. You filed your claim with USAA instead of Geico? How did USAA get paid back? Did you insurance rates increase after your claim?

    10. n00b
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      04-12-2013 10:00 AM #10
      USAA got reimbursed by Geico, the at fault driver's insurance. No increase in my rates since I wasn't at fault.
      I have USAA, which is a very good company that most repair shops prefer to deal with - at least in my area. No nickel and dime crap. For instance, in the wreck, the rear hatch had to be replaced, which required removal of the rear window which I'd just had tinted with Huper-Optik 30 ceramic tint, about a $400 job. USAA agreed without hassle that I could take the new window back to the only Huper-Optik installer in town for a re-tint, which they covered in full.
      I almost always will put the claim in with my own company, since I have more control over what they do and more trust that they won't try and cut corners with my repair shop. The only downsides are that, in theory, I have to pay my deductible up front (but, as in this case, if the other side is clearly at fault, their insurance will frequently agree to cover it since they know I can sue them or their client for it at the end if they don't), and I have to pay the rental car company (Enterprise) out of my pocket for costs which exceed my $15/day for 30 day coverage allowance (in this case, I had to pay Enterprise ~$800 because the repairs took so long). But again, I recovered that from the at fault driver's insurance as well, at the end.

    11. n00b
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      04-12-2013 10:08 AM #11
      For what it's worth, my appraiser went to the repair shop several times DURING the repairs, taking photos at various intervals, showing where the frame was nicked, what damage was under the bodywork, etc. Lots of pictures of the damage you can't see AFTER the car is fixed. So I'd suggest the appraiser visit the car at the shop while its being torn down and re-assembled.

    12. Member Tucci's Avatar
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      04-12-2013 10:35 AM #12
      First to need to check and see if your State even allows DV claims. I know GA and FL do, but not sure other states.

    13. 04-12-2013 10:51 AM #13
      I received a few thousand dollars when my Cayman S was hit, but I was paid by the other driver's insurance company. The body shop recommended a website that will do a professional estimate for $400 IIRC. I submitted it to State Farm (his insurance carrier) and after some haggling we settled for around half of the estimate. I used www.autoloss.com to create the estimate.

      I had another car (Lexus ISF) rear ended the same year and that guy didn't have insurance and my carrier (State Farm) said that I was not covered for diminished value, and I have full coverage with very high limits.
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    14. Member LynxFX's Avatar
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      04-12-2013 01:51 PM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by DBart View Post
      I have to pay the rental car company (Enterprise) out of my pocket for costs which exceed my $15/day for 30 day coverage allowance (in this case, I had to pay Enterprise ~$800 because the repairs took so long). But again, I recovered that from the at fault driver's insurance as well, at the end.
      I also have USAA (great company) and they got the at fault party to pay for my car rental especially since I got a luxury rental that was the closest comparison to my car and obviously well over $15/day. Now I'm really upset that I didn't push for any compensation for diminished value, after reading your story. I'm pretty sure I could have gotten a couple thousand as that is about what I think I lost during my trade-in. Oh well live and learn.

    15. Member xinnek's Avatar
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      09-02-2013 05:20 AM #15
      Diminished Value is claimable in most states when it is a 3rd party claim. That means when someone hits you, it is their fault, and your claim is against them. Here's a little info on Diminished Value.

      1. You normally must own or be buying your car. Leasees normally aren't allowed to recover Diminished Value as they don't own the car, the leasor would have that option. (If you purchase the vehicle later you may be able to claim the loss value if the statutes of limitation hasn't run out.)

      2. Even if you've settled your accident claim, you may still be able to claim diminished value. I've had clients successfully claim loss value 5 years and 11 months after the collision. The insurance company paid 77% of the appraisal, The claimant received over $3,000. award. They used no attorney and settled within 1 week after submitting the appraisal.

      3. Be careful who you have appraise your car. There are only a few states that actually license auto appraisers. Most are either self "certified" or have been certified by some internet company in another state. I'm licensed by the State of Oregon to appraise vehicles. Since my license is issued by a govenment agency, it normally holds a lot more clout than someone who has no actual license at all, even in another state.

      4. Most vehicles that have cosmetic damage only rarely have more than 10% the pre-loss value as diminished value. Usually it'll be around 6-8%. i.e. Car has 20,000 preloss value = no more than $2000 in Diminished Value. Insurance companies use a formula called Formula 17C to rip people off. Even with frame damage it is usually no more than 10% of the pre-loss value.

      5. How do I know if I have frame damage? With a VW you'll normally have a unibody frame. In this case if you have damage to an apron, rocker panel, a,b,c or d pillar, Front or Rear Rail, Rear quarter panel replacement, Rear floor pan damage that is more than 1" perforation or 2" deflection or complete replacement, you probably have unibody frame damage and you've lost a LOT of resale value. Normally between 13-38% of the pre-loss value.

      Got questions about Diminished Value? just ask on this thread or pm me.

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      09-02-2013 06:40 PM #16
      His insurance said I should be happy I got new parts and paint, therefore the car is better than before. I've already done all that you said and more. I'm highly confident I'll win in small claims for $7K (limit if NV is $7.5K).
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    17. Member xinnek's Avatar
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      09-04-2013 10:44 PM #17
      "Better than before", LOL that's such BS. Body shops are limited by economics to provide repairs that are equal to factory builds. Never seen a body shop hot dip an entire car for rust protection for example. Aftermarket parts normally never go through the same product testing as a factory part and seldom comes close in quality. LKQ parts can easily have undetectable damage to them since they usually come from another wrecked vehicle. Even if it was repaired with OEM parts, kinetic energy could have weakened and/or damaged other parts and possibly cause them to fail in the future.

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      09-17-2013 04:51 PM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by Vegas-RoadsTTer View Post
      "his front end looked worse than my rear"
      You have the high strength steel paneling behind the aluminum body panels to thank for that!



      What def. sucks is if you get any damage, even the most minor of dings, it's a time consuming and tricky process to reform the aluminum body panels. It is not easy to replace that body panel which makes up the rear fender well area because it flows up to form the roof line and a pillar. And if there is minor damage, it is so tricky to reform the material, filler material is going to be needed. At least if you go to an Audi dealer their body shop will use the same filler material used in the original production process of your car. (It is some waterproof, zinc based filler material which I believe chemically bonds with the aluminum.)

      Do you know if your rear body panels were replaced or repaired?

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      09-18-2013 08:45 AM #19
      No parts were repaired. All were OEM. Shop said that repairing aluminum was impossible and, thankfully, that is one area where the other guy's insurance company agreed. Attempts to use aftermarket and used parts were unsuccessful due to not in stock or did not fit.
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      09-18-2013 09:42 AM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by Vegas-RoadsTTer View Post
      No parts were repaired. All were OEM. Shop said that repairing aluminum was impossible and, thankfully, that is one area where the other guy's insurance company agreed. Attempts to use aftermarket and used parts were unsuccessful due to not in stock or did not fit.
      That is good they used all OEM parts. But if you had damage to your rear quarter panel/over and around your rear wheel arch then they had to peal back the damaged aluminum panel, repair any damage to the steel, then hack off the damaged aluminum, and splice in new aluminum (blending the two surfaces with filler). They would cut that aluminum right around the glass quarter panel.

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      09-18-2013 07:11 PM #21
      Hood, bumper-grill, driver side front quarter-panel, radiator, etc.
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    22. 10-21-2013 07:47 AM #22
      If only it were as simple as hiring a licensed appraiser and submitting their automobile diminished value report to the insurance company. When prospective clients call us with questions, after they hear the answers, most of them disappear - never to be heard from again. St. Lucie Appraisal prepares the best auto diminished value appraisal that can be obtained in any of the 50 states. We hate to turn away business but the cold hard truth is, regardless of the fact that you'll be submitting irrefutable evidence of how much value your car has lost after collision repairs, companies like Allstate, American Family, Farmers, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, Progressive, State Farm, Travelers and USAA will still offer settlements representing a fraction the actual diminished value. Where do these people vanish to? Perhaps other independent appraisal companies promise huge settlements or maybe people become frustrated and meekly accept these lowball payouts but being dishonest about our customers' prospects is no way to do business. A more reasonable reality is that you'll need to make a formal complaint to your state's insurance department for unfair claims practices and, perhaps, go so far as hiring an attorney. But in the event your complaint escalates into a courtroom battle, you'll be asking for compensation for appraisal and attorney fees on top of your diminished value and there's a good chance you'll win! Why? Read on.

      The automobile diminished value report you receive from St. Lucie Appraisal is based entirely on the opinions of used car managers at automobile dealerships. Was your Honda wrecked and repaired? Our report provides six quotes from Honda dealerships that specifically address your actual vehicle and the exact amount and severity of damage that was repaired. When people trade their cars in, those are the guys who buy them so their opinions are valid. Other appraisal companies providing diminished value reports may use formulas such as the inappropriate (as ruled by The Georgia Supreme Court) Rule 17-C or collect data from auto auctions to formulate their figures. I'm not guaranteeing success if you march into court with this type of appraisal. Insurers can successfully argue that they do not address your specific car or the damages it incurred.

      The Georgia Supreme Court's ruling on the inequity of Rule 17-C laid the foundation for fair automobile diminished value settlements in all 50 states. Formulas such as State Farm's Rule 17-C severely shortchanged vehicle owners and, in doing so, provided themselves and other insurers using formulas to determine diminished value with unjust enrichment.

      Subsequent to your accident, the adjuster from the responsible driver's insurance company will offer you a settlement for diminished value. If you ask them how they came up with the figure they will either point to a formula, a "certified" appraiser's report or simply refuse to explain their process altogether. I have seen the diminished value reports prepared by independent appraisers hired by insurers and they are a joke. They contain no reasonable facts to back up their assumptions. Most of them are not licensed in any state. Note that "certified" appraisers belong to pay-to-be-certified organizations, not unlike the Better Business Bureau and should not be confused with "licensed" appraisers. A number of insurance company attorneys have contacted St. Lucie Appraisal in the past to inquire about hiring us. Once they learned about our process of using dealer quotes, however, their interest faded quickly as they realized that our reports would result in higher (translation: fair) diminished value settlements. In front of a magistrate or mediator, these types of reports provide actual evidence of how much less your car is worth in the real world. Appraisals based on formulas or auction results can not compare. And insurance company diminished value estimates made up out of thin air (yes, they do exist) will certainly be looked upon as unfair at best and possibly fraudulent in the eyes of a judge.

      Face it, even your own insurance agent or broker hasn't informed you of your right to collect diminished value from the insurer of the responsible driver. Regardless of the fact that the settlement isn't even costing your own insurer a dime, agents are mum on the subject altogether. Automobile diminished value is the newest thorn in the insurance companies' side. Their mission is to keep it a secret and their hope is that it will go away.

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      10-21-2013 11:42 AM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by DIMINISHEDVALUE View Post
      If only it were as simple as hiring a licensed appraiser and submitting their automobile diminished value report to the insurance company. When prospective clients call us with questions, after they hear the answers, most of them disappear - never to be heard from again. St. Lucie Appraisal prepares the best auto diminished value appraisal that can be obtained in any of the 50 states. We hate to turn away business but the cold hard truth is, regardless of the fact that you'll be submitting irrefutable evidence of how much value your car has lost after collision repairs, companies like Allstate, American Family, Farmers, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, Progressive, State Farm, Travelers and USAA will still offer settlements representing a fraction the actual diminished value. Where do these people vanish to? Perhaps other independent appraisal companies promise huge settlements or maybe people become frustrated and meekly accept these lowball payouts but being dishonest about our customers' prospects is no way to do business. A more reasonable reality is that you'll need to make a formal complaint to your state's insurance department for unfair claims practices and, perhaps, go so far as hiring an attorney. But in the event your complaint escalates into a courtroom battle, you'll be asking for compensation for appraisal and attorney fees on top of your diminished value and there's a good chance you'll win! Why? Read on.

      The automobile diminished value report you receive from St. Lucie Appraisal is based entirely on the opinions of used car managers at automobile dealerships. Was your Honda wrecked and repaired? Our report provides six quotes from Honda dealerships that specifically address your actual vehicle and the exact amount and severity of damage that was repaired. When people trade their cars in, those are the guys who buy them so their opinions are valid. Other appraisal companies providing diminished value reports may use formulas such as the inappropriate (as ruled by The Georgia Supreme Court) Rule 17-C or collect data from auto auctions to formulate their figures. I'm not guaranteeing success if you march into court with this type of appraisal. Insurers can successfully argue that they do not address your specific car or the damages it incurred.

      The Georgia Supreme Court's ruling on the inequity of Rule 17-C laid the foundation for fair automobile diminished value settlements in all 50 states. Formulas such as State Farm's Rule 17-C severely shortchanged vehicle owners and, in doing so, provided themselves and other insurers using formulas to determine diminished value with unjust enrichment.

      Subsequent to your accident, the adjuster from the responsible driver's insurance company will offer you a settlement for diminished value. If you ask them how they came up with the figure they will either point to a formula, a "certified" appraiser's report or simply refuse to explain their process altogether. I have seen the diminished value reports prepared by independent appraisers hired by insurers and they are a joke. They contain no reasonable facts to back up their assumptions. Most of them are not licensed in any state. Note that "certified" appraisers belong to pay-to-be-certified organizations, not unlike the Better Business Bureau and should not be confused with "licensed" appraisers. A number of insurance company attorneys have contacted St. Lucie Appraisal in the past to inquire about hiring us. Once they learned about our process of using dealer quotes, however, their interest faded quickly as they realized that our reports would result in higher (translation: fair) diminished value settlements. In front of a magistrate or mediator, these types of reports provide actual evidence of how much less your car is worth in the real world. Appraisals based on formulas or auction results can not compare. And insurance company diminished value estimates made up out of thin air (yes, they do exist) will certainly be looked upon as unfair at best and possibly fraudulent in the eyes of a judge.

      Face it, even your own insurance agent or broker hasn't informed you of your right to collect diminished value from the insurer of the responsible driver. Regardless of the fact that the settlement isn't even costing your own insurer a dime, agents are mum on the subject altogether. Automobile diminished value is the newest thorn in the insurance companies' side. Their mission is to keep it a secret and their hope is that it will go away.
      However, he is right on a few things:
      1. No insurance company will tell you that you are entitled to diminished value compensation. In fact most insurance policies have specific language that voids your right to diminished value compensation if you are the insured. That is, you can only get diminished value compensation from the other driver's insurance company and only if it is not yours too.
      2. If you ask for compensation, many companies will make you lowball offers to go away
      3. Some companies have specific and fair procedures for determining diminished value, not the erroneous Georgia 17c rule. Unfortunately, I am not dealing with one of them.
      3. Going to court will cost a large % of your award in attorney's fees unless you represent yourself in small claims which will require some significant time investment on your part. In my case, the insurance company has increased their initial offer by 450% after I flied my court paperwork and there has yet to be a small claims trial date set. So just going through the motions is worth your while. Unfortunately, their present offer is still less than half of what I think I will win.
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      ACNA Life Member

    24. 10-21-2013 10:15 PM #24
      Good luck! Glad to see someone standing up for themselves...

    25. 01-17-2014 07:48 PM #25
      We hired a public adjuster that specializes in diminished value from AutoDamageClaim.com. Within a week we got $6,500 for our diminished value claim against the insurance company of the person that hit us. Definitely go with a professional when it comes to issues with insurance!


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