A negligent driver can turn your world upside down in a matter of seconds. Even when a traffic accident does not involve bodily injury, the damage to your vehicle can be frustrating and costly.
You rely on your vehicle to get to work, run errands, and care for your family. If the damage to your vehicle is substantial, you could be without your car for a week or longer.
Florida Car Insurance Requirements
In Florida, every driver is required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL) and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.
PIP covers 80 percent of the medical expenses a person incurs because of an automobile accident. PIP coverage is no-fault insurance. It compensates the policyholder regardless of who is at-fault for the cause of the car crash.
PDL insurance works differently. PDL coverage compensates the other driver for property damage when you cause a car crash. Your PDL coverage does not pay to fix your vehicle if you caused the crash.
How Does Property Damage Liability Insurance Work?
If you are involved in a traffic accident caused by another driver, you can file an insurance claim for property damage under the other driver’s PDL policy.
When your vehicle is totaled in the car accident, you are entitled to compensation that equals the fair market value of your car at the time of the accident. Fair market value is based on a variety of factors such as the make, model, and year of your vehicle, as well as the mileage and current condition of your vehicle.
If your vehicle is damaged, the other driver’s PDL provider should pay to repair the damage to your vehicle. PDL coverage also applies to other property you might damage in an accident that was your fault, such as fences, mailboxes, homes, and other personal property.
In addition to paying to repair your vehicle, PDL insurance also covers the diminished value of your vehicle because of the automobile accident.
What is a Diminished Value Claim for a Car Accident?
Diminished value is the reduction in the value of your vehicle because the vehicle was involved in an automobile accident.
Even though your vehicle may have been repaired, the fair market value of your vehicle decreases because it has been wrecked. Most parties are not willing to pay the full fair market value of your vehicle if it has been involved in a car accident.
Therefore, the diminished value is equal to the difference between what your car was worth before the accident and after repairs are completed.
Diminished value may also include a decrease in the car’s worth because of the manner or quality of repairs. For example, if the body shop uses aftermarket parts or used parts for the repairs, those parts can diminish the value of the vehicle. If the body shop cannot match the paint exactly, that fact could diminish the value of the vehicle too.
How to File a Diminished Value Claim?
Property Damage Liability coverage includes compensation for diminished value. Depending on the year and make of the vehicle, a diminished value claim could be worth several thousand dollars.
When filing a diminished value claim, you will need:
- Proof that the other driver was responsible for the cause of the accident.
- Appraisals of the vehicle’s value before the car accident and after completion of the accident repairs.
- Evidence supporting your allegations, such as invoices showing aftermarket parts were used during the repair, statements explaining how the repairs impact the car’s performance and photographs of any repairs that do not bring the vehicle back to its state before the crash.
Recovering Diminished Value From Your Car Insurance Coverage
The at-fault driver may not have insurance, or his PDL insurance may not cover all damage to your vehicle. In that case, you might want to explore filing a claim under your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
However, some uninsured and underinsured motorist policies do not permit claims for diminished value. You must review your policy carefully to determine coverage.
Also, if you were at fault for the cause of the crash, PDL does not apply. If you have collision insurance, you might be able to recover compensation from your insurance provider for diminished value. However, as with uninsured and underinsured coverage, most collision policies do not cover diminished value claims.
Remember, uninsured, underinsured, and collision coverage is optional car insurance under Florida’s no-fault insurance system. You must purchase these coverages in addition to the required PIP and PDL coverage.
Because car accidents can be costly, it can be wise to explore all insurance options and purchase insurance to protect yourself and your family based on what you can afford.