The squeal of tires. The sickening sound of metal grinding against metal as you lurch forward in the driver's seat. As you climb out of the car, you're shaken - but thankfully you and the driver who hit you are not injured. Unfortunately, the same isn't true for your car.
Even after you endure the hassle of dealing with insurance companies and the inconvenience of taking your car in for repair, the bottom line is that your car simply isn't worth as much. "The resale value of a vehicle with an accident history is considerably less than a comparable vehicle that's never been in an accident," says Omar Quddus, President and Co-Founder of Advocate Auto Claims LLC (www.advocateautoclaims.
com). This phenomenon is called "diminished value," and the at-fault or third party's insurance company has an obligation to compensate the driver who was not at fault for this difference in market price. "Insurance companies are required to restore a vehicle to its pre-loss condition and value," says Quddus. "Unfortunately, most consumers aren't aware that they are entitled to diminished value compensation - and insurance companies don't volunteer that information.
" That's the reason Quddus is on a mission to educate consumers about their rights, and why Advocate Auto Claims pursues diminished value claims on behalf of drivers who weren't at fault in accidents. "Even when consumers are aware of the diminished value issue, they're often ill-equipped to handle the roadblocks that an insurance company will throw at them," he says. "Each insurance company has its own internal procedures, but those procedures can vary from region to region.
" Similarly, the laws and regulations governing diminished value differ greatly from state to state. The maze of regulations and loopholes, as well as the harsh stance taken by auto insurance companies against diminished value claims leaves consumers with few options. "Consumers may be involved in an accident once or twice in a lifetime; they simply don't have the resources and knowledge to get the compensation they deserve," says Quddus.
This is precisely why the owners of Advocate Auto Claims, who have more than 10 years of experience working with diminished value claims on behalf of fleet owners and rental car agencies, have opened their doors to consumers. While drivers can pay out of pocket for a vehicle inspection or a report to substantiate their claim, and an attorney may pursue such a claim in conjunction with a personal injury case, Quddus' company handles every aspect of diminished value claims - and does so on a contingency basis. "The process of establishing diminished value and then negotiating the proper compensation is both an art and a science," Quddus says. "We pride ourselves on our ability to get results, and don't expect to be paid until you do.
Kris Nickerson, Press Direct International (http://www.pressdirectinternational.com), is a veteran writer covering finances, marketing, relationships, health care and public relations. Nickerson is also active in a variety of social betterment programs.