The Oregon Supreme court ruled this week that consumers who have their cars damaged in accidents are not just limited to recovering the cost of repairs. Depending upon the amount and type of damage as well as the particular car, some vehicles can lose thousands of dollars in value even if repairs are completed properly. New car dealerships often refuse to take repaired vehicles in on trade or discount them heavily. Any competent auto appraiser will tell you that vehicles can lose as much as 25% of their value even if the repairs meet manufacturer’s specifications. Purchasers of automobiles know not to buy a car that’s been subject to major repairs. Insurers on the other hand often try to convince consumers that vehicles don’t lose value after repairs. A tactic employed by many insurers is to keep denying the claim citing incorrect legal rules. Insurers regularly misquote the law to consumers about this element of damages. Consumers are commonly told the damage can’t be claimed unless the vehicle is sold first. The law is just the opposite, requiring the loss calculation to be determined as soon as the repairs are complete. There has never been any requirement the vehicle be sold first. When consumers doggedly pursue their claim against this type of industry fraud, the carriers reluctantly agree the claim is valid, but then hire appraisers who never find any loss. Farmers Insurance has reportedly made a company decision to deny all depreciation claims. Maybe this new decision will persuade them and other carriers to treat people fairly. The case is Gonzales v. Farmers Insurance.
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