Diminished Value: A Quick Primer on Damaged Vehicles
The other day I went out to my car and noticed that somebody had left me a little gift: a little ding on my driver’s side rear wheel well. To say I was mad was an understatement! It reminded me about property damage in a motor vehicle collision and a concept that many of you may not know about: diminished value. The theory is that when your car is involved in a collision and it is repaired, that’s one thing. Quite another thing is the impact the collision has had on the vehicle’s worth, or value. In Washington, in addition to a claim for the actual cost of repairing your vehicle, you also are entitled to make a claim for diminished value. Consider this: if your car is in a crash and then gets fixed, it may look o.k., but do you think a person or dealership that wants to buy it later on will pay the same amount for your car as for one that hasn’t been in a collision? The more exotic or rare your vehicle is, and the newer your vehicle is, the more potential impact there may be on diminished value.
Also, did you know that when your car is in the shop, the at-fault insurance company will often pay for your rental car, but the concept of “loss of use” also requires them to put you in a like-kind vehicle? For example, if you are driving a fancy car such as a Porsche 911 or Mercedes SUV, they have to put you in a similar vehicle, not a Toyota Prius.
So, be careful when you are negotiating with the at-fault insurance company on damage to your vehicle. There are definitely other factors to consider beyond repair costs. It never hurts to consult with an attorney skilled in this area for advice as there are definitely mistakes that can be made along the way if you don’t know the rules. You can also always talk to a dealership or business that deals with vehicle damage to ask how you can find out what the lost re-sale or trade-in value might be. As you know, there are many rules the insurance company won’t tell you about and then hold against you later on down the road. Be safe, be smart!
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