Monday, November 28, 2011
Help Me Howard: Insurance
If you get in a crash and it's not your fault, the other driver's insurance company pays for repairs. But you probably don't know about another payment you could be eligible for. Here's tonight's Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- When Andrew sat down for an interview, it didnt take long to figure out what he does for a living.
Andrew Weener, Diminished Value Claim: "So you are shooting wide screen, just standard definition widescreen."
Andrew is a videographer- shooting and editing weddings, corporate events and bar-mitzvahs.
Andrew Weener: "It's fun, it's enjoyable to videotape happy events people enjoying themselves, partying, having a good time."
But recently Andrew has had a rough time after his wife's minivan was hit. Fortunately the other driver had insurance and the vehicle was repaired. Then...
Andrew Weener: "From looking online, researching, I understand when you get in a car accident, that the car, even if it's fixed correctly, it loses value from a car that wasn't in the accident."
Andrew is right and the damage a vehicle takes in an accident compared to a similar make and model is called diminished value.
Howard Finkelstein: "It's called diminished value because once your car has been in an accident, even though its been repaired, the resale is lowered. Most Floridians don't know that if you didn't cause the accident, the other driver's insurance company has to pay you for the resale value that was lost."
Patrick Fraser: "So in the beginning they never told you about diminished value?"
Andrew Weener: "No, never, no."
Andrew then called the other driver's insurance company to file a claim for the diminished or decreased value of the car. A few weeks later they made him an offer.
Andrew Weener: "The first letter they sent me was $1,500 and then I had an independant company take a look at the car and they came up with a $6,000 figure.
The adjuster Andrew hired said his minivan had lost $6,000 in value- 4 times what the insurance company for the driver who hit him said it lost. So Andrew sent them his report to them.
Andrew Weener: "They looked at it and they said, 'This is not correct, our figures came out to 1,500' and to be nice they said we will give you like I think it was 1760 just to make them feel like they were doing me a favor."
Andrew is willing to negotiate for less than the 6,000 his adjuster came up with, but more than the $1,760 the insurance company is offering. However, they wont budge.
Andrew Weener: "We love our car. We like it and we want to keep it but down the line when we do decide to trade it in or sell it, we are not going to get what the car should have been worth before the accident."
But if the insurance company is only willing to pay 1/4 of the diminished value Andrew's adjuster says the car lost, Howard what can Andrew do?
Howard Finkelstein: "If the other driver's insurance company won't pay what you think the car lost in value, basically your only option is to take them to small claims court."
When I spoke to geico, which insured the driver of the car who hit Andrew, they told me the recovery limits were based on the policy of the driver who hit Andrew. That they believed the payment Andrew was offered was consistent with the damage to the minivan. In other words, they felt the van would sell for $1,760 less than a minivan that had not been in an accident.
Andrew is not going to accept the $1,760 from the insurance company for the lost value of his van and so he will let a judge decide.
Andrew Weener: "If I have to go to court, to small claims court, I would do that because I definitely fell that because I feel when we turn in the car, replace the car we are take a big hit on it."
Patrick Fraser: "I really do learn something every day. I didn't know you could collect for diminished value when another driver hits you. And to make sure you arent buying a car with diminished value, before you buy it, have it inspected and go to carfax.com, to see the history of the vehicle. That can help you avoid paying more than the car is worth.
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