Negotiating Diminished Value After a Car Accident

When you've been in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for the diminished value of your vehicle. This is the difference between the fair market value of your car before the accident and its value after repairs. Negotiating a diminished value claim can be complicated, but understanding the process and knowing what to expect can help you get the compensation you deserve. As a general rule, you should expect to recover between 10 and 25% of the fair market value of your vehicle.

Low value claims aren't always easy, and you may need to file your claim more than once. Depending on what it is worth to you, you may even need to hire the help of an attorney. During the negotiation process, the adjuster could say that their initial offer accounted for the improvement. Improvement is the idea that older cars often require new parts, which ultimately increases the value of the car before the accident.

However, insurance providers often make drivers pay for the difference in value or reduce their payment to reflect the improvement. If you decide to file a low value claim, “deal with it now and act quickly,” Zander says. Low value insurance claims allow car owners to recover part of the difference between the value of a car before the accident and its value after repairs. By filing a reduced value claim, you may be able to recover part of the car's depreciated value.

Once you file your claim, the insurance company will use its own reduced value claim calculation to determine your payment. There is no single diminished value calculator for the entire industry, and insurance companies generally don't offer the formula they use, Zander says. Take the mileage of your car, find it on the odometer on the dashboard and multiply it by a mileage multiplier to find the final diminished value of your vehicle. Whether you can file a claim for diminishing value in your state, especially a claim filed by the first party, is not easy to determine, since most states have no applicable law in this regard.

If the accident was your fault, don't expect to be able to claim the decrease in value from your own collision coverage. The value of your car decreases after an accident, regardless of the severity of the damage or what needs to be repaired; this is called decreased value. If your mechanic uses low-quality parts or performs poor repairs on your car, you may experience a repair-related decrease in value.If the accident wasn't your fault, you can also file a reduced value claim to avoid losing more money than you deserve. Insurance companies may be required to pay a reduced value claim, depending on state laws and who was at fault.

Even so, “just because state law allows for a low value claim doesn't mean that insurers are required to pay it,” Gusner says.

Darrell Trimboli
Darrell Trimboli

Wannabe tv buff. Certified web scholar. Subtly charming tv maven. Avid tv guru. Hardcore beer specialist. Infuriatingly humble student.

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