Saturday, October 31, 2015




A vehicle owner has the right to make an auto diminished value claim against the insurance company of an at-fault driver who causes damage to their motor vehicle. The term "diminished value" means your car is worth less after being repaired because of the bad Carfax vehicle history report. Naturally, consumers prefer buying used cars that weren't previously wrecked. Automobile dealerships are usually the ones to break the bad news to new car buyers bringing trade-ins. Because of previous repairs, sometimes regardless of how minor the damage was, dealers are forced to offer thousands of dollars less for these cars. This also applies to cars that were repaired perfectly - a bad Carfax is a bad Carfax and that's enough to dissuade most potential buyers. The majority of dealers don't even bother attempting to retail these vehicles and usually send them straight to auction. Wikipedia tells us that a diminished value appraisal evaluates the difference in the value of a motor vehicle after a collision repair. Obtaining an automobile diminished value appraisal from a licensed appraiser is the first step toward recovering your car's lost value.

Here is some more information you should know before proceeding with your claim.

Q: How is The St. Lucie Appraisal Company different from other appraisers who prepare automobile diminished value reports?

A: Virtually every appraisal company working in the field of auto diminished value either obtains its data using automobile auction results or relies on formulas based on severity of damage, mileage, etc. Insurance adjusters routinely downgrade these types of reports for different reasons.

The use of auction results, while illustrating a basic comparison between prices realized for previously damaged vs. virgin cars does not specifically address your vehicle, it's damage, options, mileage, color, etc. Don't scoff at the notion that a car's color wouldn't factor into the equation. Any BMW dealer will tell you that he would pay far more for a white 640i than most other colors because of it's desirability. Therefore, that car's diminished value will be less.

Formulas such as State Farm's Rule 17c use what is called "damage modifiers" that assign points according to severity of damage and mileage. Auto diminished value appraisers using this formula must, naturally, use higher modifiers than insurance companies would. This simply creates a controversy over whose formula is right.

The St. Lucie Appraisal Company obtains its data directly from the used car managers at automobile dealerships - the people directly responsible for buying the trade-ins. In our query, the year, make, model, mileage, color options, amount and nature of damages is discussed. Based on that information, a dealer can determine exactly how much less he would pay for the car. We compile six dealer quotes and by averaging their deductions, our automobile diminished value figures are created.

It takes about five minutes to run off a list of auction results and even less time to come up with a formula for diminished value. While our method is far more time consuming, the resultant diminished value reports are virtually irrefutable.  Should an insurance adjuster opt to spend a half-day soliciting new car dealers they would come up with the same results. Our clients receive much fairer treatment from insurors.


Q: Regarding your sources of diminished value quotes, are the new car dealers part of a network?

A: No. Using a network of new car dealers for quotes could constitute collusion so we choose dealerships at random, selecting both local and out-of-state dealers.


Q: How do I order an Automobile Diminished Value Report from The St. Lucie Appraisal Company?

A: You will find a payment button at the bottom of this article. There is also a payment button in our website.  After making your payment, send a copy of the insurance company or body shop estimate to  or FAX it to 772-466-8400.


Q: How much does it cost to use The St. Lucie Appraisal Company to prepare an Automobile Diminished Value Report?

A: We charge $275.00 regardless of whether your diminished value comes to twenty-five hundred or twenty-five thousand dollars. You will find that most of our competitors charge a lot more. There are, of course, companies who offer instant reports for a low fee. While these are good for general knowledge, they are worthless for the purposes of settling an insurance claim. Cost for exotic car diminished value appraisals - Ferrari, Bentley, Tesla, etc. - is $350.00.


Q: Does your appraiser need to see the repaired vehicle?

A: No. All parties assume that the vehicle was repaired correctly. Unless you have issue with the repairs, no inspection of the repaired vehicle is needed for an inherent diminished value appraisal.


Q: Is it necessary to use an appraiser who is licensed?

A: No. While anyone can prepare diminished value reports, an appraiser holding an insurance adjuster's or insurance appraiser's license from any state is considered an expert in the field.


Q: What if the accident happened a long time ago, can I still collect for diminished value?

A: In each state, the statute of limitations for filing an automobile diminished value claim varies. Check with your state's insurance department for this information.


Q: Do I need an attorney to file an automobile diminished value claim on my behalf?

A: No. You may elect to hire a lawyer from the outset but it makes fiscal sense to file your automobile diminished value claim yourself. Our reports usually result in satisfactory claim settlements, however, after submitting your report to the insurance company, if you feel that their offer is inadequate or you are being treated unfairly, that would be the time to spring for a lawyer to work on your behalf.


Q: If I have an accident that is my fault, can I make an automobile diminished value claim against my own insurance company?

A: Only in Georgia, Kansas and Washington, but all is not lost. Your car has still lost value as a result of the bad Carfax now attached to it but a portion of that loss is tax-deductible. If your state does not recognize first-party automobile diminished value claims, check with your tax-preparer or accountant for details. The cost of our report, FYI, is tax-deductible as well.


Q: Will The St. Lucie Appraisal Company act as my designated representative?

A: As a client of our firm, you can be assured that we are prepared to discuss our appraisal process at length with the insurance adjuster upon request.


Q: Is the diminished value figure based on my car's retail or trade-in value?

A: In order to be fair to all parties and also to make our reports more acceptable to insurance company adjusters. we use trade-in values as a starting point. Should you decide to pursue your claim on the basis of retail value, the percentage of the diminished value remains unchanged so you may simply apply it to the higher retail value of the car.


Q: In what states are St. Lucie Appraisal's services available?

A: Our automobile diminished value appraisals are sought after by car owners all over the country. We provide automobile diminished value reports in all 50 states.

The St. Lucie Appraisal Company
P.O. Box 2700
Fort Pierce, FL 34954
Phone: (772) 359-4300
Fax: (772) 466-8400



Automobile Diminished Value Appraisals nationwide including Alabama,  Alaska, Arizona,  Arkansas, California,  Colorado,  Connecticut,  Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida,  Georgia,  Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois,  Indiana,  Iowa,  Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts,  Michigan,  Minnesota,  Mississippi, Missouri,  Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire,  New Jersey,  New Mexico,  New York, North Carolina,  North Dakota, Ohio,  Oklahoma, Oregon,  Pennsylvania,  Rhode Island,  South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

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The fee for an Automobile Diminished Value Report is $275.00. You may also make your Credit Card Payment by telephone, call 772-359-4300. Credit card payments can be made on the PayPal page. Click on "Don't have a PayPal account?" to be taken to the secure credit card payment page. 

After making your secure payment please email the body shop estimate or insurance company appraisal to or FAX to 772-466-8400.

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Updated 04-21-2013, 06-01-2013, 11-19-2013, 05-28-2014