In yesterday’s post I explained how to open negotiations with the insurance company about your diminished value claim. If you did not succeed negotiating your diminished vlue claim (sometimes called a DV claim) then you sent a demand letter. This letter should begin more serious negotiations with the insurance company. The insurance company will work hard to convince you that you do not have a valid claim. Do not let them get inside your head. Keep your story straight and continue to assert the value of your claim. If the insurer will not negotiate with you then your recourse is to file suit against the party at fault. The insurer will then have to either settle the claim or pay for the party’s legal defense.
Negotiating with insurance companies in Texas
Hopefully the insurance company will negotiate with you. Most insurance companies follow the same pattern in negotiations. They try to wear down an opposing party by dragging their feet and disregarding your claims because they know there is a high probability you will get tired and frustrated in time and eventually you will give up or agree to a small amount. The insurer may deny your claim several times before they give you a counter-offer. They will probably low ball you in the beginning. They may tell you there is a formula and the amount cannot be negotiated. (That is not true.)
If the person you speak with tells you they cannot settle your diminished value claim (or various other garbage designed to make you want to give up) then stand firm and tell them you need to speak with the person who can settle your claim. If they tell you nobody can help you then tell them you will have to take action against the insured driver. That may be the end of your discussion and you may have to do that.
Once you get to negotiating dollar amounts, make them explain how they are reaching their numbers. Argue why that is incorrect and your assessment is correct. If you did not take your car to an appraiser in the beginning, you may need to hire an appraiser at this point to strengthen your argument. Some insurers will give little or no credit to your claim until they see an actual appraisal from a professional appraiser. They may also want you to let their appraiser see the car, especially if you are claiming there are mechanical or cosmetic defects. At this stage you are haggling over numbers and there is no magic bullet technique I can offer to get that done. If you cannot obtain a reasonable settlement, you may have to sue the party at fault.
Filing suit for diminished value claims
If you have to sue the party at fault, it may be time to hire a lawyer to represent you. They sue and get sued for a living. They know what they are doing. If your claim is less than $5000 you can probably take your claim to a small claims court alone. It might be worth hiring a lawyer for a consultation to assess your claims and offer advice.