You are entitled to diminished value if your car was repaired after being in an accident. Diminished value is the amount of money your car decreases in value because it has been in a wreck. When you go to sell your car, the car dealer or buyer can pull a report out of a national database using your car's VIN number. When they see your car was in an accident, it makes your car worth less. In most States, you have a legal right for the insurance company to compensate you for this lost value.
The amount of diminished value you may be entitled to varies wildly based on a lot of factors. To get started you should first make sure you "qualify" for a claim. You should have a claim if:
- Your car's fair market value prior to the accident was at least $5,000.
- Repairs exceeded $1,500.
- Your car is no less than eight years old.
- Your car doesn't have a salvage title.
Once you tell the insurance company that you want diminished value, they will get back to you with an offer. As with all offers in life, their first number is usually not the highest they are willing to go. It is a starting point to see if you will jump at it and to see if you are up to a negotiation.
If you decide to counter the insurance company's offer, you are going to need to present a dollar amount that you think your car lost in value. You just can't pull a number out of thin air. You need to find a diminished value appraiser who will run your car's numbers and give you an official report on how much value your car lost. You then send your adjuster this report and demand the diminished value amount the adjuster came up with.
If the adjuster does not agree to this higher amount, you will need to negotiate with him or her. Negotiating is a topic in and of itself. But at a high level, you need to get the adjuster to explain why their amount is right and yours is wrong. Then you will need to "debate" the adjusters reasons. A lot of times the appraiser who did your diminished value report can help you come up with good reasons for increasing the diminished value based on their report.
Finally, some insurance policies have an "independent appraiser" clause. You can tell the adjuster you want to invoke that clause, which costs them time and money. They will have to pay a third-party appraiser to analyze your car's diminished value. Many times the adjuster will increase their offer the amount of money it would cost to pay that third-party appraiser. So, this can be a quick way to get them to bump up their offer.