Sunday, July 31, 2011


TAMPA, Florida - Advertisements can be misleading as we all know, and they include ads we find on the internet regarding Auto Diminished Value appraisals and Diminished Value experts. The allure of  free advertising enables companies to throw all sorts of things at us. In every state, we have more than our share of scammers and charlatans. Lately a number of web sites, blogs, Craigslist-type ads, etc. are describing themselves as "advocates."

The general perception is that an advocate represents us free or for a minimal charge. It is a resource to advance a social or public policy initiative and gives a voice to  citizen interests. A consumer advocate seeks to remedy injustices in the market place, also to teach consumers to stand up for themselves. Funded by governments or privately, these people and organizations are who we turn to for help, especially when the waters get murky - as is definitely the case with Automobile Diminished Value.

At St. Lucie Appraisal, we are advocates for fair and equitable treatment in Automobile Diminished Value cases. Our compensation is both financially and professionally rewarding. If a company is masquerading as something else, either the service stinks or their fees are out of line, sometimes both. These less-than-forthcoming advertising techniques occur mainly with attorneys but other types of businesses do it too.

Our Auto Diminished Value reports are available to anyone in any state whose late model car or truck was damaged through someone's negligence, then repaired. The loss of trade-in value - even though you may not actually be trading the car in - is known as diminished value. Insurance companies don't like paying for it but it's the law and you are entitled to compensation.

How much compensation? That depends on many factors, all of which weigh into the insurance adjuster's decision about how much to pay you. Each insurance company has their own formula that takes into consideration things like whether the frame or unibody was damaged, whether the vehicle was towed, year, make and model of car, etc. Unfortunately, low-ball methods based on formulas such as Georgia's Rule 17C have demonstrably proven their inadequacy. Also unfortunate is the fact that most Auto Diminished Value Appraisal firms take a similar easy way out by adopting their own formulas for determining diminished value. So how does St. Lucie Appraisal determine the amount of diminished value?

Only one indicator can be considered relevant - how much less the dealer will offer for your trade-in as a result of a dirty CARFAX report. The only reliable method for determining diminished value is to call the dealers for their opinions. Using a formula saves a lot of time but as many people are learning, insurance companies show little respect for Automobile Diminished Value reports done in this manner - even by advocates. It is formula vs. formula.

To cite an example, whereas a repaired unibody can count heavily toward how much net worth is lost from a Chevrolet or Toyota - the resultant diminished value can be as much as 50% of the trade-in value - any Porsche dealer will tell you that, even without unibody damage, buyers avoid repaired Porsches like the plague. An insurance adjuster will point to the absence of frame and unibody repairs when he or she offers you a fraction of what your claim is worth. It is unfortunate that Automobile Diminished Value advocates utilizing formulas will probably agree, leaving consumers as the ultimate losers. You'll collect something, but it won't be enough. Your car is now under water.

Insurance companies can not so readily dismiss an Automobile Diminished Value report prepared by St. Lucie Appraisal. We work hard to come up with accurate numbers. Our reports, compiled through exhaustive telephone research, reflect the accuracy of the used car market. They also force insurance companies to either do the same research or explain why they refused to do so.

Is St. Lucie Appraisal  the best Automobile Diminished Value appraiser in the business? Most insurors will agree that we are the gold standard. We are licensed as adjusters and appraisers by the State of Florida Department of Consumer Affairs giving us credibility as experts in every state.

Florida Statute 626.855 defines a “RESIDENT INDEPENDENT ADJUSTER” as any person who is self-employed or is associated with or employed by an independent adjusting firm or other independent adjuster, and who undertakes to ascertain and determine to amount of the claim, loss, or damage payable under an insurance contract or undertakes to effect settlement of such claim, loss or damage.
And when it comes to your right to fair compensation for Automobile Diminished Value, we are your biggest advocates - even if we don't come right out and say so.

The St. Lucie Appraisal Company
P.O. Box 2700
Fort Pierce, FL 34954
Phone: (772) 359-4300
Fax: (772) 466-8400


paypal payment button The fee for an Automobile Diminished Value Report is $275.00. You may also make your Credit Card Payment by telephone, call 772-359-4300. Credit card payments can be made on the PayPal page. Click on "Don't have a PayPal account?" to be taken to the secure credit card payment page. 

After making your secure payment please email the body shop estimate or the insurance company appraisal to or FAX to 772-466-8400.


Thursday, July 21, 2011



MIAMI, Florida - Good advice for long-distance buyers of antique, custom, exotic or otherwise modified cars in Florida - hire an appraiser, a mechanic, a body shop, a towing company, auto detailer, glass installer or other automobile-related person to at least inspect the car before you make that purchase. Buying a car sight-unseen is a tentative proposition at best. When the vehicle is twenty or more years old with potential for unseen damages, improper repairs and modifications, etc., it can turn into a horrible nightmare.

Yesterday, I was given an assignment to perform a condition inspection on an antique Thunderbird convertible. The classic car was located at a Florida auto dealer that specializes in fine antique and custom cars. Over the last few years I've had the pleasure of inspecting and/or appraising numerous dream cars at their location. So, naturally, I expected to see a real nice survivor-type piece.

This condition report was being done on behalf of a fellow from Chicago who later told me that he made the decision to hire an appraiser at the last minute. The T-Bird was all but loaded onto the car carrier when he made the call. To make a long story short, I'm certain that the buyer would have had a heart attack when he took delivery of this absolute disaster of an antique car. While I was making my notes I realized that this sort of thing happens every day.

Getting back to my sage advice regarding having someone - anyone - look at a classic, exotic or custom car before buying and costly shipping, even a non-expert would have noticed three inches of water in the trunk, inner door panels attached via Swingline staples, that most of the lamps and signals didn't work, the dead battery, the A/C not working, dry rot in the six-year old tires, the pitted interior trim, broken seat handles and the surface rust. An expert would find many more deficiencies but by this time the buyer's decision had already been made so my work was done. Disappointed at not finding his dream car and perhaps angry at the seller for misleading advertising, his most overwhelming emotion, nonetheless was joy. Because spending $225 for an appraiser beats spending $18,000 for a piece of junk any day.

The salesman explained that the Thunderbird was a consignment and that he was unaware of the extensive problems the car had. Seems unlikely because they photographed the car from every conceivable angle for their eBay advertisement. The ad contained close-ups of everything with the exception of the funky stuff! Small consolation for the guy in Chicago who might have bought the car sight-unseen.

A last word about purchasing antique and custom cars and trucks in Florida. Private sellers have also become adept at photographing and describing vehicles to their best advantage. One selling point I commonly see being used is a quotation of the insured value. Very reassuring to know that an insurance company has such a high regard for the car. However, and this has become a typical theme, antique cars covered by specialty insurors like Hagerty, Grundy, Condon & Skelly and American Collectors who operate on the honor system, over-insure most of their cars. Antique car owners simply tell these specialty insurors what they feel the car is worth and, as long as book values bear them out, policies are written on that basis alone. More than half of the appraisals of antique and custom cars insured by these companies aren't worth near their insured value. Buying a car that's covered by a small specialty insuror? Caveat Emptor.....

The St. Lucie Appraisal Company
P.O. Box 2700
Fort Pierce, FL 34954
Phone: (772) 359-4300
Fax: (772) 466-8400


Our service area includes St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River, Brevard, Palm Beach, Broward and Dade Counties. Cities include Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, Stuart, Palm City, Jensen Beach, Hobe Sound, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, Coral Springs, Coconut Creek, Pompano Beach, Tamarac, Sunrise, Lauderhill, Plantation, Fort Lauderdale, Davie, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Hollywood, Hallandale, Miami, Opa Locka, Hialeah, Coral Gables, Kendall and Homestead.

Diminished Value Appraisals throughout Florida including, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando, Pensacola, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Port Charlotte, Clearwater, Kissimmee, Melbourne, Daytona Beach, Ocala, Gainsville, Bradenton, Titusville, Panama City, Bonita Springs, Naples, St. Petersburg and Tallahassee.

Our rates for services are as follows:

Auto Appraisals (Donations, Bankruptcy, Divorce, Insurance Disputes) $175.00

Stated Value Appraisals (Antique & Classic Cars, Street Rods, Motorcycles, RVs, Trucks) $175.00

Auto/Truck/RV Condition Reports $275.00 and Up

Diminished Value Appraisals (Determines how much less your car is worth after accident repairs) $275.00

Personal Property Appraisals (Contents, Collectibles, Art, Antiques) $225.00 and Up

All other services and additional time when necessary $75/Hr.

You may obtain appraisals for Financing, Charitable Donation Tax Credits, Collateral, Damage Claims, Equitable Distribution, Bankruptcy, Estates, Insurance Stated Value, Purchase & Sale and Diminished Value.

Appraisals of Personal Property, Art, Boats, Classic & Custom Autos, Collectibles and Memorabilia, Electronics, Machinery, Motorcycles & Choppers, Furnishings, RVs, Trucks & Heavy Equipment. Business Valuations specializing in all types of small businesses.

Revised 08-29-2012