I appreciate your efforts on this file and for the excellent report you authored. Your report was invaluable in getting us to the point of settlement with State Farm.
— Thomas R. TerMaat
Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge
Client's Experience Reveals Insurance Company Tactic to Avoid Paying Diminished Value
Our clients have shared some fascinating stories of their experiences with collision repair shops and the insurance industry. One client's car was hit while stopped at a traffic light. The other driver was at fault and they accepted responsibility.
This is where it gets interesting. I will leave the names of the insurance company and body shop out to protect the guilty. The car was repaired. There was some frame damage, so the shop put the car on a frame machine and repaired it. When I looked at the repair order the frame labor was called something else. I called the repair shop and struck up a conversation with the manager. When I asked him what was going on with the frame labor on the car, he told me that the insurance companies pressure him to hide this in other categories. They may call it "floor pull" or "structural" work on the invoice. It turns out that the insurance companies try to avoid paying Diminished Value by pretending that there was no frame damage. This is why they ask the repair shops to hide the frame work in their invoices. The insurance companies have a lot of influence over the repair shops because they can direct considerable business to their favorite shops. The body shops that play along with the insurance company's game are rewarded with more referrals. Those that don't are removed from the "preferred" list.
The reason for all this is diminished value. When a car has frame damage, it suffers significant diminution of value. Even if the repairs are performed perfectly, the frame damage carries a lot of stigma. We have conducted a survey that shows how badly frame damage (or any accident) hurts the value of your car. Here are the survey results. These results show that most buyers would not consider purchasing a used car with frame damage. This is why the insurance companies want to hide the fact that the car suffered frame damage — so they can try to avoid paying the diminished value amount that you truly deserve. It's an underhanded tactic where the insurance companies use their power, but now we know one more thing to look out for.