Think you’re done once you’ve had your car fixed after an accident? If you’re not at fault, you’re not done.
Your car could be worth thousands of dollars less than before the accident. It’s called diminished value, and it means that even though your car looks like new, you’re still out money.
But car repair specialists say very few people have any idea that they may be entitled to that money.
“Less than five percent of our customers are aware of diminished value and what it can offer them,” said Aarron Stoller of Precision Body & Paint.
The more your car is worth, the more money is at stake. But most insurance companies prefer that you don’t know about diminished value.
Just ask Debbie McAulay of Vancouver. After her car repair, she asked her insurance adjuster about diminished value. McAulay didn’t like the answer she got.
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“She basically was trying to discourage us from even pursuing this at all, “ McAulay said.
It’s a battle Dave Smith of Beaverton is familiar with. He helps drivers fight insurance companies to get them to pay for diminished value. He says many people don’t find out their car is worth less after repairs until they sell it or trade it in.
Insurance agents said they don’t encourage claims for diminished value.
“We're not insuring the value of the vehicle it's the physical condition of the vehicle,” said John Ross with the Northwest Insurance Council.
Bottom line – if you’re in a crash and it’s the other person’s fault, insurance will usually pay to fix your car, but not to compensate you for the diminished value. To get that, you’ll need to file another claim specifically for diminished value. You also need to do it within four years of the accident.
But it can be worth your time and money. Debbie McAulay stuck with her battle, and it paid off. She received $2,800 to cover her diminished value, for a claim her insurance adjuster tried to talk her out of.