Best kept Insurance secret!

 Your insurance company may owe you thousands of dollars, and you might not know it.

Some call diminished value the best-kept secret in the insurance industry. Local 10 has discovered many insurance companies claim diminished value does not exist in Florida, when the law is clear that it does.

Diminished value is the reduction in a vehicle’s market value occurring after a vehicle is wrecked and repaired. Most people will not pay the same price for a wrecked, then repaired vehicle as they will for a vehicle with no prior accident history.

Pembroke Pines resident Dennis Wilson said he has been fighting with the insurance company for a year and half. His wife’s Honda Accord was rear ended and sustained $10,000 in damage. When the car was fixed, Wilson took it to a dealer to be appraised.

“The dealer said, ‘Your car is worth 9 to 10 grand less than what it would have been prior to the wreck,'” said Wilson.

Wilson filed a diminished value claim against the other person’s insurance company.

“I was told, and I quote, they said, ‘There is no diminished value action in the state of Florida,'” Wilson said. “That’s a total lie.”

Miami Attorney Javier Finlay said 90 percent of his cases are fighting insurance companies for diminished value of vehicles involved in crashes.

“Last week, an insurance adjuster told me it doesn’t exist, and I faxed him the law,” said Finlay.

Finlay said the insurance companies don’t make it easy to collect on a diminished value claim. The companies want the car owners to prove the vehicles are worth less than before the crash.

Wreck-Check in Pembroke Park is one of the few places Local 10 found that does full diminished value reports for consumers.

“Diminished value has a direct correlation with the cost of the repair, the year of the car, value, make, model,” said Joe McHugh of Wreck-Check. “We do a thorough report of the loss in value to the car. You can submit that to the at-fault driver’s carrier and collect it.”

Wilson said after he got a report, the insurance company that didn’t want to talk to him was making offers to settle.

“The insurance company started at zero, then moved to $1,800. Then, they moved to $3,500. Now, ultimately, they have agreed to $6,000,” Wilson said.

In order to collect on a diminished value claim, you must still have the vehicle, and the crash cannot be your fault.

The statute of limitation for filing a diminished value claim in Florida is three years from the date of the loss.

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