ZB Negotiations continues to educate the consumer that inherent diminished value (loss in resale value) is real and claimable against the at-fault insurance carrier. However, as consumer claims for diminished value increase, the carrier’s response has been to increase the rate of denials, most with no basis.
We continue to help our clients in pursuing diminished value for their damaged vehicles even though carriers appear to be determined not to recognize the vehicle owner’s financial loss. While carriers receive well-documented claims, there seems to be some magical line to deny the claim, regardless.
Almost daily, insurance carriers create some new hurdle that bears little if any, factual basis to support a denial. We have heard comments such as “the client sold their vehicle for too little” or “we paid too much to fix it in the first place.” We find no factual basis for either comment.
One carrier that provides coverage mostly in a northeast state is possibly the worst with their denial approach. While they are well aware of a New Jersey court decision that both diminished value and loss of use are claimable in that state, yet they still deny many diminished value claims. This also appears to be their approach to repair costs. This only prolongs repair times, increases rental expenses, and results in numerous supplement requests delaying an agreement.
Some carrier tactics with respect to diminished value claims include, “we will consider your claim when you sell the car.” They fail to mention the statute of limitations that exists and hope you are gullible enough to accept a concept based on what sounds like a reasonable response. With many vehicle owners keeping their vehicles longer, the statute of limitations approach provides an easy escape for denial of a claim and financial savings for the carrier. A recent study put the average age of domestic vehicles at 14.8 years, a new high that provides greater assurance of a justified denial.
Recently a denial stated that the comparable vehicles used had less mileage then the car that was damaged and, therefore, not representative. The same could be said about the comparatives that carriers use for totaled vehicles. There are adjustments for options, mileage, and, at times, model or year. How is the carriers’ use of non-exact comparatives for totaled vehicles acceptable, but our use in supporting a claim is not?
The most recent denial from a carrier asserts that they found one of the same vehicles that had prior damage but were still selling at the undamaged price. Our presentation was based on three sets of damaged and undamaged vehicles or a sample of six vehicles. They have now suggested that we obtain a letter from a dealership to establish the now selling price. Had that been done as a first presentation, the denial would have been that there is no support. Let us not lose sight of the carrier’s play on words, selling is not sold, and neither is asking versus sold. These same terms are used by carriers in reports and presentations they supply but find acceptable. The carriers’ sample of one requires no explanation, nor is it supporting the denial as no documentation was provided. Lastly, this vehicle model has a base price to one full option that can vary by $40,000. So what options were in their comp?
This same carrier recently denied a dealership claim for both diminished value as well as a loss of use in another state. The comments for the denial are in direct violation of that states’ legal rulings. Again this carrier makes a habit of not providing any supporting documentation to justify the denial. The term used by the carrier is ”work product” and is their defense for providing no support.
Perhaps the most ridiculous basis of denial by a carrier is their statement that “the vehicle was repaired according to industry standard and therefore there is no diminished value.” First, being a vehicle owner, you would expect that your vehicle was properly repaired to manufacturers' standards with OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts; also, the vehicle has met all safety standards during the repair process. Inherent diminished value assumes proper repair standards have been met. How does proper repair result in no diminished value? It does not! Asking the carrier representative if they would pay the same amount for two vehicles where one does, and one does not have accident history might shed some light on their response? Do not assume a logical response to the question. This can be seen as the carriers' drone response and begs the question; does the carrier or its representative know or understand the definition of inherent diminished value?
We continue pursuing diminished value claims on behalf of our clients, as we believe these are fair and justified. The insurance carriers have always treated the claimant in a manner that shows little regard for the vehicle owners or their rights to be made financially whole. We see the latest carrier approach to denials as representing the same disregard for the claimant, while the carrier’s increase their bottom line profits.
We help bridge the gap