How to File a Diminished Value Claim

Find out if you’re getting ripped off on your car insurance in less than two minutes.
No long forms · No spam · No fees
If you’ve been in an accident, selling your car for a good price can be tricky. Because of your car accident, your car has diminished value from its pre-accident value, even with minor damage.
That doesn’t immediately mean you are going to take an enormous loss on the sale. In some cases, you can recover the difference in value with a diminished value claim.
So, here’s how diminished value claims, with help from car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry.
RECOMMENDED
Compare auto insurance policies
No spam or unwanted phone calls · No long forms · No fees, ever

Why is the value diminished?

Let’s look at fruit as an example. You have one apple in each hand, perfectly identical in every way. The same size, variety, color, and ripeness. Your experience eating either one is exactly the same. Then, you accidentally drop one of your apples and bruise it. When you pick it up and give someone the choice of apples, they will always take the apple that hasn’t been dropped. Even without major damage, it has diminished value.
The same goes for vehicles. When you compare two identical cars but one has been in an accident and repaired, no matter how perfectly, a buyer will always choose the one that hasn’t been damaged at all. The Insurance Information Institute says, “This difference between what the pre-accident car was worth and the market value of the post-repair car is known as diminished value.”

How to calculate diminished value of a vehicle

Determining exactly how much a vehicle’s value has diminished is impossible since it’s completely about a buyer’s perception and intentions. However, there’s a formula that prominent car insurance companies use to calculate the diminished value.
  • A Base Loss of Value amount is calculated as 10% of the national Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) retail value.
  • The Base Loss of Value is multiplied by a damage modifier from severe to no structural damage.
  • The result is then multiplied by a modifier based on the car’s mileage, whether average, high, or low.
For example, a car worth $20,000 that has 50,000 miles with moderate damage would have a Base Loss of Value of $2,000. With moderate damage, $2,000 is multiplied by .50 for a value of $1,000. Then, with 50,000 miles on the clock, it further modifies the value by .60 for a final DVC amount of $600.
However, your insurer may dispute the value of your DVC. You may need to have an independent appraisal performed locally to determine the DVC amount. You can source an appraiser in your area with a simple Google search.
Let Jerry find your price in only 45 seconds
No spam · No long forms · No fees
Find insurance savings (100% Free)

How to file for diminished value

Getting your insurer to pay requires documentation to prove the validity and value of your claim. You’ll need:
  • The NADA retail value, available at NADAGuides.com, using similar mileage, options, and features as your vehicle.
  • The calculated DVC amount based on the formula above.
  • A certified value from an independent appraiser for the current resale value.
Every state has its own criteria for filing a DVC. In some states such as Alabama, there’s no precedent currently for paying you the diminished value. In others like California, the issue is unclear and may allow a jury to award diminished value. In states like Georgia, Colorado, and several others, you may be eligible for compensation in a DVC.
Here are the universal steps you’ll need to take:

1. Obtain proof of your car’s pre-accident value

If you’ve calculated the diminished value of your car, you’ve already found your pre-accident value. This is the NADA retail value that uses your car’s options, age, and details to determine what it was worth. Print the value to include with your claim and find vehicle listings from dealerships and private sales to support the valuation.

2. Have your vehicle’s current value appraised

For the most accurate DVC amount, calculate the DVC using the formula used by insurers as well obtaining an independent appraisal. In some cases, the calculation can work in your favor while in others, it falls short of the actual diminished value.

3. Determine which party’s insurer to file claim against

If you live in a no-fault state or you have coverage through your insurer, file your claim with your own insurance company. Otherwise, file the claim with the other party’s insurance provider.

4. Settle your claim

There are three options for settling your DVC with an insurance company: They’ll accept the claim and pay you, they’ll deny your claim, or they’ll negotiate an adjusted value.
Just because your car’s been damaged in an accident doesn’t mean you have to automatically take the loss when you sell your car. Look into a diminished value claim and keep more of your money in your own pocket.

Finding the best deal on car insurance

DVCs are no fun. But they can be made a little easier with the right car insurance. To find the best deal for you, try Jerry. Jerry is the easiest and most effective way to find a car insurance policy that is customized for you.
After providing you with a comprehensive cross-analysis of the best policies across providers, Jerry will handle the phone calls, paperwork, and renewals for your top pick so that you don’t have to. They even help cancel your old policy! So why do all that extra work when Jerry can do it better?
RECOMMENDED
Haven’t shopped for insurance in the last six months? There might be hundreds $$$ in savings waiting for you.
avatar
Judith switched to Progressive
icon savingsSaved $725 annually
avatar
Alexander switched to Travelers
icon savingsSaved $834 annually
avatar
Annie switched to Nationwide
icon savingsSaved $668 annually

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

√
No long forms
√
No spam or unwanted phone calls
√
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings — it's 100% free