Let’s say you are driving down the road and someone hits you causing thousands of dollars in damage. The insurance company pays to repair your vehicle, but might not inform you that your car has reduced in value after having an accident history. You may be unaware that you could be compensated for your vehicle’s loss of value.
Diminished Value has been defined by the Oklahoma courts as the difference of the fair market value of the property immediately before being injured, and the market value after repairs have been or would be made. With reporting agencies such as CarFax and Autocheck, a wreck history can substantially lower the value and marketability of your vehicle.
Your car loses value just because it was in an accident and repaired. Once your vehicle is sold or traded in you will suffer diminished value. Proper repairs to the vehicle will never recover this amount. A car that is sold of the same year, make, model, mileage, and condition will certainly sell more un-wrecked than with an accident history. In some cases depending on the severity of the damage, dealers may refuse to take your car at all. Cases such as this usually involve airbag deployment or structural damage.
A diminished value claim is when you request an amount of money from the insurance company for compensation for the difference between your car’s value before the repairs (pre-accident) and its current value now that it has been repaired (post-accident). This value can easily amount to a few thousand dollars for newer vehicles.
Each state varies on diminished value laws. Oklahoma recognizes the diminished value in third-party claims, meaning if you were not at fault you might be entitled diminished value. However, uninsured motorists on your policy may give you an option to file for diminished value under your policy when you were not at fault. The two cases that govern diminished value in Oklahoma are Hall vs. Deamon and Brennen vs. Aston. Hall vs.Dearmon determined diminished value as recoverable in Oklahoma, and Brennan vs. Aston established attorney fees are recoverable in diminished value cases.
You can do some checking on your and calculate your value using one of the many formulas you may find online. Unless you know the laws and policy language, many insurance companies act like they have no idea what diminished value is. Furthermore, it becomes harder to get paid diminished value when the courts do not recognize a standard formula. Both cases in Oklahoma were awarded based on an independent, competent, and unbiased party who inspected the vehicle. It is always advised to seek a professional diminished value service such as Collision Safety Consultants of Oklahoma. Although these services charge a fee, you often receive a higher settlement from the insurance company making this option a better value.
You can make a diminished value claim on your own by contacting the insurance company, but the burden of proof is on you to prove your claim. Have your arguments and calculations ready and be prepared to negotiate (more than likely this will take more than one attempt). Insurance companies will fight you on diminished value, and will either try to deny or lowball an offer. If you feel that you are not getting anywhere with the insurance company, I would advise speaking with a professional diminished value appraiser. Collision Safety Consultants offers free diminished value consultations and estimates. They also guarantee if you do not receive more than their service fee than they owe you nothing and refund any fees paid.
It is common for insurance companies to either deny your claim or offer a low unsubstantiated amount. They are hoping that you take their initial offer and go away. You do not have to accept a rejection or lowball offer from the insurance company. First, try to negotiate with the insurance company as much as you can. If your negotiations lead nowhere, then you have the option of filing a small claim or a civil case against the insured who hit you. If you win your case, the defending party will be responsible for attorney fees and court costs. The insured can then sue the insurance company for failing to pay diminished value under the original claim. If you need assistance call a professional diminished value service such as Collision Safety Consultants. Many of these services offer free consultations and evaluations.