What You Should Know About Diminished Value Claims

What You Should Know About
Diminished Value Claims

Getting into an accident can be expensive, in more ways than one. Beyond the damage to your car, you may also need to pay for medical care or take time off work. In addition, collision damage also impacts your vehicle’s value, even after it’s been repaired. 

The good news is that auto insurance providers offer a variety of policies designed to cover the different types of losses you might encounter after an accident, including diminished value claims. These claims specifically address the decline in market value your car can suffer after being involved in an accident. 

What Are Diminished Value Claims?

With vehicle collisions, one driver will typically be considered at fault. In California, drivers are allowed to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to compensate for the diminished market value caused by the car accident.

Instead of covering the total value of the vehicle, diminished value claims cover a percentage of the car’s value. Typically, insurance companies limit such claims to 10% of the vehicle’s pre-accident appraised value. Therefore, the maximum payout you can expect to receive from this type of claim is 10% of your car’s value. However, insurers will adjust this percentage based on your vehicle’s mileage before the accident and how much damage it sustained. That means that even if your car has decreased in value by thousands of dollars, you may only receive a few hundred dollars. 

Essentially, these claims are a means of providing additional compensation to drivers who weren’t responsible for an accident but whose vehicles sustained damage. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will usually pay for the repair or make an offer to fix the not-at-fault driver’s damaged vehicle. 

If the not-at-fault driver believes the vehicle’s value will significantly depreciate after it’s repaired, they can file a diminished value claim to offset the cost of the loss. 

Understanding the 3 Types of Diminished Value Claims

In general, a car loses value in two ways after an accident. First, simply having a record of an accident on the car’s history decreases its value, regardless of the extent of the damage. Secondly, the quality of the repairs and replacement parts can decrease the value. 

Diminished value claims can be categorized into three types, depending on the timing and value of the collision repairs:

  • Immediate diminished value claim: applies to cars that haven’t been repaired yet. This type of claim considers the loss of value from the accident and the need for repairs. 
  • Inherent diminished value claim: made after repairs have been completed and focuses on the decrease in value due to the accident alone. Even if a car appears to be in better condition after the repairs, this type of claim can still award compensation for its inherent diminished value. 
  • Repair-related diminished value claim: compensates for the decrease in value resulting from the parts and repair methods used. For example, a car that’s repaired using original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts is more valuable than one repaired using aftermarket parts. 

When Can You File a Diminished Value Claim? 

Certain conditions must be met to file a diminished value claim:

  • You must be deemed not at fault for the accident.
  • The other driver involved in the accident must have insurance. 
  • Your car must have had value before the accident. 
  • You must reside in a state that recognizes diminished value claims.

When insurance companies assign value to a car, they take several factors into account, including:

  • Mileage
  • Year
  • Make
  • Model
  • Special features
  • Pre-accident condition

A 20-year-old car with 300,000 miles and missing parts before the accident is unlikely to qualify for a diminished value claim. In contrast, a car with only 8,000 miles in like-new condition before the accident is more likely to receive compensation through a diminished value claim.

Get a free estimate for the diminished value of your vehicle here

Filing a Claim

To file a diminished value claim, you’ll need to submit it to the at-fault driver’s insurance company; check their policies for submitting a claim. The insurance company will ask for specific information, such as a police report determining fault, pictures of the damage, and bills or estimates for repair. You may also need to get an appraisal to determine your car’s value.

If an insurance claim has already compensated you for necessary repairs, filing a diminished value claim can be cost-prohibitive, as the expense of gathering evidence may exceed the final payout. Nevertheless, diminished value claims can provide a safety net if you stand to lose a significant amount of your car’s value, even after repairs.

After an accident, it’s important to understand all of your options for recouping your losses, including diminished value claims. At Cline Collision Center, we understand the importance of OEM repairs and how they can impact the value of your vehicle. Our experienced team has completed training on OEM repair procedures and uses OEM parts to protect your car’s value and ensure its fully restored to its pre-accident condition. If you need repairs or have questions about filing a diminished value claim, contact us today at (707) 591-9909. 

How to Use Online Reviews to Select an Auto Body Shop

You rely on your car every day, so getting into an accident isn’t only scary – it’s inconvenient. That’s why it matters where you choose to get your repairs. You need your car back quickly, but you also need your car to be properly repaired and safe to drive. Who wants to risk another collision, right after having collision repair?

For this reason, you shouldn’t choose the first auto body shop that appears in the search results. But if you’ve never worked with an auto body shop before, how can you know who to trust with your vehicle? Beyond getting referrals from people you know, online reviews can be very helpful for finding more information to make the right decision. 

Vetting Online Reviews

The first place many people look for reviews online are sites like Yelp, Google, and Angie’s List. Although these are helpful to give you an overall idea about what to expect with service and customer satisfaction, it’s important to understand that not all customer review sites are the same. Some websites will let anyone post a review, regardless of whether they’re a legitimate customer or not. Other websites allow featured businesses to place ads sponsoring positive reviews to increase their visibility.

Another issue with online review sites is that it can be difficult to know if the reviews you’re reading are truthful. Statistically, customers who had a bad experience at a business are far more likely to leave a review than a customer who left completely satisfied. It’s also not uncommon for bad reviews to include some exaggerated points to make the experience with the business sound even worse.

A better option is to search for verified customer testimonial platforms, like Carwise or Auto Body Review. These are specialized sites that only allow real customers to post reviews. If you’re looking for accurate information about what to expect from an auto body shop, a verified customer testimonial platform is the best place to check out.

Websites that specialize in educating consumers are growing in popularity because consumers have shifted to using them to make their purchase decisions – and not just in the automotive industry. Today, nearly 90% of consumers look at online reviews before deciding whether to choose a service or purchase a product. In addition, 84% of consumers trust the reviews they read online – which means most people trust online reviews as much as they would trust a referral from friends or family.

Don’t Forget About Forums!

Keep in mind that forums can also be a reliable source of information that’s just as good as word of mouth. Comments in online forums tend to be a genuine reflection of a people’s experience with shops. Customer discussion forums can also be a channel for communication between an auto body shop and its clientele. Interaction between the two can give you insight into how well the shop stands by its work and how they interact with their customers.

Forums also present an excellent opportunity for the business to respond to customers that may have had a negative experience. Look for companies that obviously care about customer satisfaction and building a relationship with their customers.  

It’s also important to remember that with everything, there’s always room for improvement. Negative reviews aren’t going to be ignored by a reputable company that’s interested in customer satisfaction and improving their work; instead, they’ll take the time to listen to customer advice and complaints and use this feedback to provide better service.

Additional Tips

Here are a few more tips for finding reliable information about an auto body shop:

1.   Look into several different auto body shops in your area.

2.   Ignore posts that are poorly written or that tend to use a lot of capital letters or exclamation points.

3.   Skip reading the really short responses like, “They were great!” Brief reviews won’t give you enough information to understand the type of service and the repair quality you can expect to receive. Instead, look for longer, well-written reviews that include details.

4.   Try to find testimonials that are specific to the make and model of your vehicle.

5.   Do a search on information about the type of repairs you need, and check to see if the shop has a good track record fixing them.

6.   Keep in mind that businesses change over time. If a shop has reviews going back ten years, focus instead on the ones that are more recent – no more than a few years old.

How to Leave an Effective Review for an Auto Body Shop

If you’ve already had collision repair performed on your vehicle, you may want to consider leaving a review to help other consumers make their decision. Here are some things to remember when writing a review:

1.     Leave constructive feedback. Think about what you liked or didn’t like about the service; how can the shop make improvements?

2.     Clearly explain the reasons you were happy or unhappy, such as quality of the repairs, customer relations, policies, etc.

3.     Keep the tone of your review honest, but stay civil – even if you were unhappy with the service.

4.     Be sure to include the dates you had the services performed, along with the make and model of your vehicle and the type of work the shop carried out.

5.     Don’t include links to websites or any personal information.

6.     Read through your review before publishing it to make sure you’ve included all the important information and points you wanted to make.

7.     Update your feedback if needed.

Cline Collision’s Commitment to Excellence

At Cline Collision Center, our top priorities are customer satisfaction and providing safe, high-quality repairs. We value feedback from our customers and continually work to ensure we provide the best possible auto body repair in Sonoma County. From paintless dent removal to extensive collision repairs and aluminum body repairs, we handle it all – and we hold OEM certifications with many of the top automakers. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you have about your auto body repair or schedule an appointment with us today!

What Are the Top 5 Vehicle Safety Features You Should Know About?

There are a lot of things to consider when you’re buying a new or used car – fuel economy, legroom, cargo space, and of course, finding a model that you know you’ll be happy with overall in the long run.

Safety First Sign

One thing that should always be a priority when purchasing a car is its safety features. Although traditional safety features like seat belts, anti-lock brakes, and airbags, are now standard, newer vehicles have also come to rely on Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). ADAS is comprised of a variety of electronic safety features that use automated technology (like sensors and cameras) to detect obstacles around the vehicle and driver errors. Some features will sound or display a warning, while others use automated features to correct the vehicle without any action from the driver.

ADAS features vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle. Typically, the more luxurious the model, the more ADAS features it includes. However, as automakers embrace electronic safety features, many of them are becoming more widely available, even on more conventional models. Here’s a look at five of the most important ADAS safety features that will help reduce your risk on the road.

Electronic Stability Control

Electronic stability control (ESC) has been standard for all cars built after 2012. It relies on sensors to help the driver maintain control of the vehicle and prevent skidding or sliding in conditions where there may be poor traction. The sensors monitor factors like wheel speed, sideways motion, steering angle, and rotation to keep the car moving in the driver’s intended direction.

If the car moves outside of this path, the ESC will apply automatic braking on one or more of the wheels to prevent skidding or plowing out. ESC happens so quickly that drivers often don’t even realize there’s a need for steering corrections. Many manufacturers have their own name for the ESC, like StabiliTrak (Buick/GMC) or AdvanceTrak (Ford) but they all work similarly. ESC is especially helpful for taller vehicles that are more at risk for rollovers, like SUVs and pickup trucks.

Blind Spot Monitoring

Blind spots are a major safety hazard. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), blind spots are the cause of as many as 350,000 accidents a year. Blind spots can be due to a fault in the vehicle design or physical limitations of the driver being able to see around the vehicle well. The most common blind spots on most vehicles are near the rear bumpers.

Volvo was the first to develop blind spot monitoring systems (BMS) in 2003; since then, many other automakers have followed suit. BMS systems use a set of sensors mounted on the side mirrors and/or rear bumper to detect vehicles in the adjacent lanes. If the sensors detect a vehicle, they trigger an alert (typically auditory and/or visual, but some models may use vibration as well) to warn the driver. Some models may also integrate cameras into the system along with sensors.

Lane Departure Warning

The lane departure warning (LDW) uses a camera to monitor lane markings and detect when the vehicle strays outside of the lines. It will then alert the driver with a visual or auditory warning so the driver can steer the vehicle back into the lane. While it’s similar to the ESC because it tracks the vehicle’s path, it doesn’t take control of the vehicle in any way. LWD systems have been shown to reduce a variety of accidents, including single-vehicle, sideswipes, and head-on collisions.

Adaptive Headlights

Headlights are one of the most important safety features on any car, but adaptive headlights go a step further than just lighting up the road after dark. Adaptive headlights use sensors to actively respond to changing light or road conditions to provide better visibility and reaction time.

There are several different types of adaptive headlights, but the most common is curve-adaptive. These headlights have bulbs that will pivot to adjust the light depending on the direction of travel (driving up or down a hill, for example) and sometimes according to the vehicle’s speed. Other features that fall under adaptive lighting are headlights that adjust the brightness of the light depending on outside light conditions and automatic switching between low and high beams.

Traction Control

Traction control monitors vehicle wheel slippage and other indicators that could signal a loss of traction. If it detects one of the wheels is spinning faster than the others, the system immediately applies the anti-lock brake system to that wheel or, in some cases, may cut engine power to the wheel. Although automakers are now legally required to include electronic stability control in their vehicles, they aren’t required to include traction control – although most do.

One important thing to remember about this feature is that there are some conditions where it won’t work, like driving on a sheet of ice. It can only provide traction in instances where the tires would already have some, like wet roads, gravel, or other uneven, loose, or soft surfaces. For that reason, you should still reduce your speed and take turns slowly when driving in slick conditions. Traction control tends to be most effective when accelerating from a stopped or slowed position, or when trying to accelerate up a slippery hill.

Accidents Can Still Happen…

There are many other ADAS safety features that aren’t on this list, but hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of some of the most important ones and how they work. Unfortunately, no matter how many safety features your car has, accidents can still happen – and if they do, Cline Collision Center is here to help! We use OEM parts and repair methods to restore your vehicle to its pre-accident condition and ensure all safety features remain intact and functioning properly. We’ll also handle the insurance coordination to ensure the repair process is streamlined and hassle-free. Contact us today at (707) 591-9909 or schedule your appointment online.