You wrote “there’s no way I’d probably recover the diminished valuation on the car” and I’m wondering why? Once upon a time, insurance companies denied that diminished value even existed. Well, some still try to get away with it but most insurers resigned themselves to paying DV claims a long time ago. The St. Lucie Appraisal Company prepares diminished value reports in all 50 states – more than a thousand every year. If your conjecture were true, we’d have been out of business a long time ago.
First, your car, a 2005 Mercedes-Benz E320 CDI with 55,000 miles is an older model and in the world of diminished value, it’s fair market value plunged less as a result of undergoing repairs than a newer car would have. But don’t take that statement to mean that the vehicle hasn’t lost enough in value to bother making a claim.
Second, there was no mention of the severity of the damage. The specifics of what was repaired on the car are very important in determining diminished value. A typical fender-bender costing a few thousand to repair – and not involving any frame/unibody damages or airbag deployment – might get you back $1,500.00 to $3,000.00 dollars for diminished value. Involvement of the items in bold face – in addition to whether the vehicle was disabled and other factors – can bring the diminished value to almost half of what your car is worth. Even with older cars like yours. Classic car diminished value, antique car diminished value and custom car diminished value can all be significant.
You asked about “gotchas.” There are many to point out, from no-brainers like making sure to obtain a comprehensive diminished value appraisal from an appraiser who is licensed by a government entity to coming to terms with whether you are prepared to face a potential battle of wills and attrition with a huge insurance company. I say “potential battle” because, believe it or not, there are insurance companies that do play relatively fair as many of our customers have reported.
Your car need not be physically inspected by your independent appraiser for a diminished value claim. The insurance company, however, might want to send someone to assess the repairs. If they call, tell them not to waste their time and money. Attest to the fact that your car was repaired back to factory standards. Your claim is for inherent diminished value which is nothing more than a stigma loss. Repairs that rendered your car “better than new,” as their appraiser might say, still don’t mitigate the fact that it is still worth less than before the accident. There aren’t many magistrates or mediators who would disagree.
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