JDFN Financial Network

Diminished Value and Gap Insurance “Know your Rights”

I have been around the block a few times, and I have to say that this one simply just slipped thru the cracks. Bad thing is that I could have used it in the past to assist me in collecting money that would have been very beneficial in the end. I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday and unfortunately he was in an accident the other day, good news no one was hurt. So like most of you that drive, a fender bender has been in the cards at one point or another. Like my buddy in this case who had a new truck I had a few new vehicles in which I had a fender bender at one time or another.

Here lies the issue at hand. If you have a new car, we all know that as soon as you drive it off the lot you will suffer 20-30% depreciation on the value of your new vehicle. Thus one of the reasons you will find the strategy to buy a two year old vehicle in several of my books. I like new cars and I have new cars, but I also use leases to my advantage, and I also buy used as well. So back to my buddy, he was in an accident where someone hit his new truck.

Insurance will cover the damages but what about the fact that his new truck now has a negative carfax, a history of repair and accident that will affect the long term value of the truck even after it is fixed. That is unfortunate and in most cases people just take it for what it is and move on. Later down the road a few years when they try to sell the vehicle the accident comes back to haunt them and the seller of the vehicle will suffer monetary loss because of the previous accident.

The accident simply lowers the long term value. So what can you do? Well you can buy Gap Insurance which will cover the difference in your new vehicle when you drive it off the lot and remain in effect until your car is worth the same or lower than your loan payoff thus the “GAP” or you can file a diminished value claim against your insurance company. I would suggest that if you buy a new vehicle that you look into gap insurance, some policies have it included and others you will need to add it on. Keep in mind that you can get Gap insurance at many places not just thru your insurance company and certainly don’t take the Gap offered by your dealership when you buy your new vehicle. There are also alternatives to Gap insurance such as new car payoff options etc, you can discuss with your auto insurance company.

Since my buddy is filing a diminished value claim let’s look at what and how the claim works. Let’s say you are like my buddy and were in a recent accident with your vehicle. – The first thing you are going to do is file a claim with your insurance company for the damage to the vehicle – The initial claim will only cover your damages minus your deductable of course – But what about your Diminished Value, this is going to be what your new vehicle is worth if you sold it now with the repaired damage vs selling the same new vehicle now with no damage.

You need to be familiar with the three (3) types of Diminished Value . . .

1. Immediate Diminished Value is the difference in resale value of a vehicle immediately before damage has occurred and immediately after damage has occurred (prior to repair). Most jurisdictions (courts) will use this standard as the primary measure of damage when courts are employed to seek reimbursement for damage from a negligent party. As courts are rarely the chosen venue for recovery of property damage, the standard of “Immediate Diminished Value” is rarely employed in resolving Diminished Value Claims . . .

2. Inherent Diminished Value assumes optimal repair quality has been achieved and is defined as the amount by which the resale value of a repaired vehicle has been reduced simply because the subject vehicle now has a significant damage history. “Inherent Diminished Value” is the most widely recognized and accepted form of Diminished Value. It is also the basis upon which any supplemental form of Diminished Value would be added. A common “Supplemental” form of Diminished Value is “Repair Related Diminished Value” . . .

3. Repair Related Diminished Value includes any additional amounts by which the resale value of a subject vehicle may be further reduced because of less-than-optimal repairs. This could include anything from minor cosmetic imperfections to major structural defects. Determining diminished value takes basic common sense, the newer your vehicle the more likely the value would be diminished if it were in an accident.

If you find yourself in a position that you think you may be looking at a diminished value situation, you will need to find a D/V appraiser, this type of appraiser has really taken off recently but you will need to be careful as some of them are not as professional as others, you may just want to ask your insurance company for the name of one that they recommend. Do not fall prey to contingency type diminished value companies.

These companies will tout that they can get you money from the insurance company for the vehicles diminished value on a contingency basis, meaning that they take their money out of the claim when paid by your insurance company. There are numerous scams out their reported with this type of business activity so just avoid them. If for some reason you have difficulty with trying to collect on a diminished value claim from your insurance company you may need to find an attorney to assist you with the claim, in most cases your attorney fees can also be incorporated into the claim.

If you don’t receive your diminished value claim or as much as you feel you should have you still can recoup some of the loss on your taxes, Please take note that in no way do I offer tax advice, nor am I a tax attorney, please seek professional tax advice when doing your taxes.

IF you itemize your deductions, you can use Line # 19 of Form 1040 - Schedule “A” to deduct your unrecovered Diminished Value. If you have an unrecovered Diminished Value of say $ 1,500 and a tax rate of 20%, you can Reduce Your Tax Obligation by almost $ 300.00.

Yet another financial strategy that can be used to help you and your family achieve the financial success you deserve,

Happy Investing!

James Dicks

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Comment by PJ Shimkonis on May 5, 2011 at 11:06am
What an interesting post! I had just figured out trading gaps - gap down, buy. Gap up, sell. And I've been in a car wreck several years back during the weekend; the gap down did not work the way it should. So more recently when I got into Forex I tried trading gaps, which is a real eye opener but the same thing happens. Whether you take the pre-existing trade through the gap or buy at the beginning of next week when price gaps down things don't always go as planned. A consolidation pattern or reversal pattern can be figured out before trading gaps! The same seems to hold true when price gaps up - sell unless the price consolidates and signifies a reversal.

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