When a vehicle gets into an accident, insurance may be able to pay for its repairs. But even if an auto repair shop manages to restore the damaged vehicle to as close as its pre-collision state, the car’s resale value drops the moment it took damage.
Fortunately for drivers in Florida, the state is one of 15 that observes a diminished value system that allows vehicle owners to recover the lost resale value of their automobile from the at-fault driver’s insurer. How does this system work, and when will you need a lawyer to help you?
Requirements for a diminished value claim in Florida
To file a diminished value claim with the insurer of the driver who hit you, you’ll have to meet the following criteria:
- You’re not liable for the accident: You can’t receive compensation for your car’s diminished value if you’re at fault.
- The damaged vehicle is yours: You must own the car you’re filing a claim for. You can’t file a diminished claim if you borrowed the vehicle from a relative or friend or weren’t the one who purchased it.
- You paid for repairs to the vehicle: You can’t file diminished value claims until the damages on your vehicle are repaired.
Before applying for a diminished value claim, you’ll also want documentation of the repairs made to your automobile, as well as proof of the value of your vehicle. This can be as simple as citing prices from a vehicle valuation authority like Kelley Blue Book.
Florida also has a time limit for filing a diminished value claim, which is four years from the date of the accident.
Diminished value claims can be denied
While you can file a claim for the lost resale value of your vehicle, the at-fault driver’s insurer can still deny it, just like any other insurance claim. The insurer might cite several reasons why it can’t pay for your claim, including:
- You can’t claim diminished value until you’ve sold the vehicle.
- The repairs done to your vehicle were enough to prevent any loss in value.
- The insurer doesn’t cover diminished value.
When this happens, you might want to consult an attorney and file a lawsuit against the insurance company. An attorney can help negotiate with the insurer for a fair settlement and protect your right to compensation for your vehicle’s diminished value should the dispute go to court.