How To Maximize Your S.C. Property Damages Insurance Claim Money

When your car is wrecked but not totaled you can recover the cost to repair the vehicle from the liability insurance company. Everyone knows that. If the damage to your car is significant, you can also get substantial money damages for two other kinds of loss: the loss of use and the loss in value of your vehicle because it was in a wreck. Read on to see how to gather evidence in support of these supplemental property damages claims.

Loss of Use.

When your car is being repaired, you are entitled to damages caused by the loss of use. This is normally equal to the cost of a rental car, or around $12 – $15 per day depending on your location.

If you had a special vehicle, like a truck used for your small business, or a larger vehicle needed to transport a large family, then you are eligible to a replacement vehicle that is suitable for your purposes.  If you car is repaired in just a couple days, it is probably not worth quibbling over this element of your claim. On the other hand, if you do have to litigate the dispute, then you should seek full compensation.

To make a claim for a special loss of use, you need to establish the cost of replacing your specialty vehicle. You need documentation to establish the additional cost of renting a specialty vehicle.

If the liability insurance company refuses to provide a replacement vehicle while yours is being repaired, you have options.

First, you should rent one yourself. The out of pocket cost of the rental should be fully reimbursed. If you need to replace a specialty vehicle, make sure that the invoice indicates why the rental cost is higher than $10-$15 per day. Also, shop around so you can prove later you have mitigated the damages by finding the most reasonable rental cost in your market.

When you cannot rent a vehicle, then you can negotiate to rent a vehicle from a friend of family member. I am an Uber fan. If you live in a city and have a smart phone, this is a great option.  Use the Uber application to purchase your rides around town. You can request Uber to print an invoice showing all purchases during the period you were without a vehicle. You should be able to make a full recovery of Uber costs.

Alternatively, you may agree to just reimburse your friends for rides based on the mileage driven. If you choose this option, keep a contemporaneous log book of all trips. You can use the log to prove the mileage reimbursement at the government rate.

If you have to bring your vehicle to the repair facility on more than one occasion, then you are eligible for loss of use damages each time you are without.

Diminution in Value

Anytime your car is in a wreck, there is a probability it will lose value. The amount of diminution depends on the extent of the damages and the age and quality of your car.

We recommend obtaining some key documents to prove your diminution in value damages.

a. Figure Out Your Car’s Pre-Collision Value

First, as quickly as you can, determine your car’s pre-collision estimated fair market value. You can use several services on the Internet to help you. Here are two we recommend:
Figure out the fair market value quickly because as your car ages the car value will decrease. Print a copy of the reports and save a copy of the reports for future evidence of your car’s pre-collision true value. Establishing your car’s true value is a key element of any property compensation claim.

b. Where’s the  Car Fax

A few weeks after the repair work is finished, buy a Car Fax report. Sometimes it might take a while for the collision to show up so it does not hurt to wait for a few months before seeking this information.
Car Fax reports are helpful because most used car buyers use them to investigate vehicle history. If your vehicle report shows your car was in a collision, then the value of the car will be less than the value of a car that was not in a collision. Car Fax also characterizes the severity of the collisions so it can make a pretty big difference in value.

c. Sell the Car On the Open Market

We recommend you first take your fully repaired car to Car Max. The Car Max will inspect your car and make a written offer to buy it. Keep the written offer. Technically, the written offer by Car Max is not hearsay. This offer is typically low. You should be allowed to introduce the written offer into evidence as a “verbal act.”  The offer from Car Max is evidence of the fair value of your vehicle after the collision.

When you subtract the the Car Max offer from the pre-crash true market value of the vehicle, the product is the maximum amount of your diminution of value claim. However, an insurance lawyer or adjuster will typically argue Car Max offer was not a fair price for your repaired car.

To neutralize this position, try to sell the car on Craigs List for what the insurance company claims is the true value. So, if the insurance company offered you anything for your car’s post-crash diminution in value, subtract that amount from the pre-crash tue value you figured earlier. That is the price point you shoot for when you try and sell it on Craig’s list.  Clean your car up and use good pictures when you advertise the car on Craigs List. You should also upload your Car Fax report.

Keep track of all offers made and all all calls received in your logbook.  Later, you will testify about these calls and offers (or the absence of offers and calls) to prove the amount the insurance company value was too high to sell the car on the market. If at any point, you do get an offer you like, take it!

If you do sell your car, the actual amount you sell it for is strong evidence of its actual true value post collision. Just make sure you do a good job of trying to get the best price you can before you sell so you can explain it in court that you have mitigated damages.

If you cannot sell the car, your monetary damages for its loss in value is likely somewhere between the low Car Max offer and the insurance company offer. The quality and extent of your efforts to sell the car on the open market will determine whether the damages are closer to the Car Max number or the insurance company offer at a trial.

Please read this post about getting more out of your property damages claim.

Later, I will post more on how to file a South Carolina arbitration claim.