A Basic Overview
|Is there a statutory basis controlling diminished value claims ?||
|Is there favorable Reported case law for Diminished Value Claims ?||
|Can my Collision Coverage cover the Diminished Value of my vehicle ?||
|Can my Uninsured Motorist cover my Diminished Value ?||
|What is the small claims court authority limit ?||
|What is the Statute of Limitations to recover my diminished value ?||
|Are “iCan” appraisals accepted into evidence ?||
"A Little Tale" of
Diminished Value Laws
in Ohio as reviewed by
J. D. Howard
OHIO IS A DIMINISHED VALUE RECOVERY STATE ...
In the spring of 1968, Allstate Insurance Company had their Ohio Regional Office at 3605 Warrensville Center Road, Shaker Hts, Ohio. After 2+ years working in the customer services department in the Regional Office, I was transferred to their claims department service office right across the street. I was a cub adjuster having just completed 3 weeks at Allstate’s HOTT (Home Office Technical Training) School in Skokie, Illinois. Shortly after I was allowed to fly solo, I was assigned to handle a file where our policyholder was presenting a claim for post-repair Diminished Value. I was instructed to explain to the policyholder that Diminished Value was “Not Covered” by Allstate’s personal auto policy and “Deny” the claim. The policyholder was an attorney with a reputation in the arena of Contract Law.
When I got to our insured’s office, he and I spoke privately. When I completed my denial of his claim, he shared with me his point of view.
Our insured shared with me some finer points of Contract Law. He explained the distinction between bi-lateral or multi-lateral contracts (terms & conditions negotiated between the parties to the contract) and the uniqueness of a unilateral contract (no negotiation, take-it-or-leave-it). He explained to me that his Allstate auto insurance policy was a unilateral contract. He further explained that, under the current law, whenever a unilateral contract contains an ambiguity, courts were obliged to interpret any ambiguity against the author of the contract. Since the Allstate policy was “Silent” on the issue of Diminished Value, that silence constituted an ambiguity.
Our policyholder asked me to relay his point of view to my superiors. He said we had one week to reconsider our denial of his claim, after which, he would proceed with litigation.
When I reported back to my claim manager he, in turn, sent me across the street to our legal department in the Regional Office. One of our staff attorneys then escorted me to the Regional Manager’s office (Robert “Bob” Bell). I left Mr. Bell’s office with instructions to develop a method by which Diminished Value could be measured – come up with a Diminished Value figure – resolve the Diminished Value claim and get the insured’s signature on a “Policyholders’ Release” form.
The Methodology Developed in 1968, is the same methodology “iCan” uses today !
A Diminished Value Appraisal is only worth the cost, when it is a persuasive document leading to the recovery of Diminished Value damages ... A Diminished Value Appraisal "Estimate" ... Honestly Expressed ... and combined with knowledge of the Diminished Value LAWS in a consumer's given state, are necessary elements of consideration to evaluate pursuing a Diminished Value recovery.
Over the years, Ohio courts have addressed the issue of Diminished Value in multiple trial cases. In the “Basic Overview” noted above, it says there is Favorable “Reported” case law precedents (prior court decisions) that support a vehicle owner’s right to recover their post-repair residual Diminished Value. The genesis of those court decisions is … Rakich v. Anthem Blue Cross (2007).
The Significant Takeaways from the above are . . .
- A drill down on Unilateral Contracts . . .
- Allstate tried to Deny a claim they knew they Owed . . .
- Allstate Paid Diminished Value to their own policyholder . . .
- Allstate Approved the Diminished Value Methodology I Developed in 1968 . . .
- The Methodology I developed in 1968, is the same Methodology “iCan” uses today !
Over the years, Allstate has incorporated a Diminished Value “Exclusion” in their policies which solved the ambiguity issue. Now, policyholders can only recover their Diminished Value if the damage were the fault of the other party … and … the other party were uninsured or did not have sufficient policy limits to cover ALL the damages sustained by the policyholder (including Diminished Value).
FYI . . . DRP Agreements . . .
DRP (Direct Referral Program) Agreements do exist (in writing). Under the terms of a DRP agreement, a body shop surrenders virtual control of their facility, to an insurance company, in exchange for that insurance company’s promise to promote that body shop to their insureds and claimants. All decisions as to method of repair and parts to be used are dictated by the insurance company. We’ve actually read DRP agreements that stated “the vehicle owner shall remain ‘Blind’ as to any difference of opinion that may arise between [insurance company] and [this] shop”.