Friday, April 23, 2010



Hire an Expert Automobile Diminished Value Appraiser - Service in all 50 States

FORT PIERCE, Florida - Once your late-model vehicle is in a collision, it has suffered more than physical damage. Your car has also experienced what is known as automobile diminished value. What it means is that your car's resale value has decreased significantly. Because there is now a CARFAX report attached to it, the car becomes a pariah of sorts, shunned by used car buyers in favor of previously undamaged units. Dealers, of course, won't pay nearly as much for the trade-in. Fortunately, Florida recognizes automobile diminished value and insurance companies recognize that they are liable for automobile diminished value claims and therefore, must pay. Will you need an attorney to file your claim? Not if you have secured the services of a competent automobile diminished value appraiser. If the insurance company adjuster of the at-fault driver handles the claim in an above-board manner, Florida's consumers should have little difficulty obtaining fair compensation. The St. Lucie Appraisal Company prepares automobile diminished value reports.

In 2001, the Georgia Supreme Court made an historic ruling in the case of State Farm Insurance Company v. Mabry. Their decision impacted how automobile diminished value claims are handled not only in Georgia, but also in Florida and most other states. The diminution of value after a collision has always existed but, until Mabry, insurance companies refused to pay or even acknowledge Diminished Value. The court wrote: “You are hereby directed to review this case and adjust claims accordingly, including assessment and payment of diminution of value relative to physical damage. Policyholders should be reimbursed consistent with the court's holdings and applicable language contained in the relevant policies issued by your company.”

State Farm tried to argue that when the vehicle has been properly repaired, there is no objectively discernible diminution in value. In reality this is nonsense and even though Georgia's Insurance Commissioner sided with the insuror, the court disagreed. Since then, the large insurance companies have recognized that their diminished value responsibilities are very real. Adjusters, when faced with an automobile diminished value claim, make a token offer which represents only a fraction of the car's lost value. Vehicle owners who balk at accepting are told to obtain an independent evaluation. On the other hand, insurance adjusters don't want to risk having to defend a "bad faith" claim. Aggressively pursuing your diminished value claim almost guarantees a more acceptable settlement. Hiring an attorney is a smart investment if an insurance adjuster is adamant about lowballing you. In most cases, however, a professionally prepared appraisal from a licensed Florida appraiser should suffice.

What is the appropriate methodology for obtaining a diminished value amount? The insurance companies have traditionally used a method named "Rule 17c". It was an agreed upon formula by State Farm and The State of Georgia whereby the maximum decrease in value was set at 10% of the NADA value. It never addressed the impact on vehicles of the current model year which aren't listed in NADA and suffer the greatest percentage of Diminished Value. Vehicle owners have the right to a second opinion and aren't required to accept the dollar value resulting from the 17c formula.

As automobile diminished value experts by virtue of our long experience in the field, St. Lucie Appraisal takes the common sense approach to determining diminished value.

First, the percentage of diminished value is determined using trade-in values. Regardless of how the insurance company adjuster calculates the vehicle's actual cash value, the percentage of diminished value will always be the same.

Second, by using trade-in values, we provide a fair and equitable base that both vehicle owners and insurance claims examiners can live with.

Third, our appraisal figures represent what the vehicle will encounter in the real world of used cars. It is the used car managers at dealerships who provide the most realistic assessment of values because automobile dealers are the ones purchasing and re-selling the vehicles. Our reports list each dealer, their estimation of how much less they would pay because of the bad CARFAX and any pertinent comments such as how different variables affected their decisions. Although it is more time consuming than using a formulaic approach, it's the only method by which accuracy can be obtained.

This very nice letter (click to enlarge) from now-retired Stuart, Florida attorney Patrick Beatty illustrates why diligence is necessary in order to prevail in automobile diminished value cases. The insurance company, which shall remain anonymous, first declined to address a diminished value claim at all. Once Mr. Beatty's office became involved, the insuror's stance softened somewhat. But their offer of approximately $1,000.00 for diminution of a 4,800 mile high-end SUV that had sustained major damage was inadequate to say the least. The final reimbursement for automobile diminished value by the insurance company was $6,861.11 based on our appraisal.

Please feel free to contact The St. Lucie Appraisal Company with any questions you might have regarding your vehicle and automobile diminished value in Florida and in all 50 states.

The St. Lucie Appraisal Company
P.O. Box 2700
Fort Pierce, FL 34954
Tel: 772-359-4300
Fax: 772-466-8400
Web Site:



Keywords for this article: adjuster, appraiser, attorney, automobile, Boca Raton, Carfax, dealers, diminished value, Florida, Georgia, insurance, Mabry, Patrick Beatty, State Farm, St. Lucie Appraisal Company, 50 states

Revised 08-28-2012, Revised 05-25-2013, Revised 06-19-2013, Revised 09-10-2013