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Auto Insurance Claims/Labor rates, Subrogation, DV etc



AS my subject states, I have a case which almost encompasses all of those topics. I was rear-ended and the other party admitted fault. Their insurance adjuster called and said that they take 100% liability and want to set-up an inspection. After inspection the preliminary appraisal value came out to be $410. I knew that was not right so I asked around and called a couple of shops and almost everybody refused to work with that insurance because their labor rates are $24-26/ hr and a couple of appraisals I got after the visual inspection are close to $1000. Every body shop suggested me to go through my own insurance which is one of the leaders in this business and not even waste my time dealing with the other guy's sub-standard insurance because they simply don't pay!

Subrogation- If I file under collision through my insurance which I am tempted to do, will they have any motivation to get my deductible back which is 500. I mean would they break their heads and hire a bunch of people to go after this infamous company for a meager $500 cost to them (assuming that number doesn't increase after the body shop dis-assemble and find any additional damage)?

My car is 2009 Altima, should I pursue DV claim. I am sure it will be branded accidental on CARFAX/AutoCheck since it was reported to the police). Would letting my insurance subrogate hamper my chances of recovering DV. I read somewhere, once I file under my insurance, I relieve myself of any rights to file an additional claim, since my insurance would already be pursuing the at-fault to recoup the cost of damages(including my deductible).


ANSWER: It would help to know the companies involved, but nevertheless, here's the answers you seek. . . (good question, by the way). . .

1.  Will your company subrogate hard?

Unless your insurance company is an exception to the rule, they are not going to make a heavy pursuit of the subrogation recovery.  They are required to try, but if the other carrier refuses to play nice and reimburse easily, the only option they would have is to file for arbitration (if the at fault company is a member), or to litigate the matter in real court.  They won't likely do either because if the damages are $1000.00 realistically, and your deductible is $500.00, then the subrogation people are technically fighting for $500.00, so they will not spend any money attempting to recover their payment.  In fact, sometimes they will just send you a letter that says they are not pursuing it and allowing you to pursue.

2.  Will filing on your insurance keep you from getting your DV.

No.  The release that your insurance company would get would be for subrogation interest only, so any further damages you have that were not covered on your policy, you retain the right to sue for those and collect them.

3.  Should you puruse a DV claim?  Your scenario doesn't seem to be a great candidate for a DV claim because it seems that the damages were fairly minor.  Even so, you probably do have a $1500.00 DV claim.  Pursuing DV against a company that doenn't play nice is tricky, but do-able with the right help.  

I hope I covered everything for you.  You would benefit from calling my office and setting up a free consultation.  

Good luck!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you Justin. I really appreciate your advice. I have Geico and the perpetrator's insurance is American Access Casualty Insurance and the incident happened in IL.

1. That's what I thought that they most likely wouldn't subrogate hard for that low of an amount. Tell me if naming the insurance companies above changes your opinion.

2. Since (1.) means going through my insurance might not be the right choice here,and I refuse to pay anything for somebody's else's fault, should I just get my car fixed at one of their preferred shops(only they will work for those low rates, god knows how will be the quality of work and turn-around time) and then pursue the DV after my car is fixed.

3. You mention that my case might not be a great candidate for DV because of the small damage. However, DVs are based on the inherent value of the car , which will certainly depreciate since my vehicle history reports will be tainted "ACCIDENT REPORTED" and thus be less appealing to any buyer.

4. Regarding rental fees, the adjuster from American Access says that they will only cover 21.99+tax/day. I read somewhere that since I am not their insured, it's not covered under their daily rental reimbursement clause but under the liability limits of the policy. Is that right? and does that mean I shouldn't worry about the rates, by no means I plan to take advantage of the situation and rent a luxury car, but even for a mid-size sedan the rates to rent a car in the next day or two are almost $60/day. (This alone makes me think that going through GEICO might eventually be a better choice, at least the process will be a lot smoother and quick).

Again, thanks for your time and I already have mentioned almost everything here, so if you think you can help me in any aspect of my case, please let me know an appropriate time to call you and discuss further. Thanks again!

ANSWER: 1.  GEICO uses a vendor for subrogation of low amounts, so yours might actually get a call or two made and a claim filed.  American Access will audit the subrogation demand and pay as little as possible, and they'll generally make you wait until the subrogation claim is done before they will address your out of pocket losses.

2.  You're right about preferred shops.  They work for the insurance company, so you will be left out of the loop on how the repairs are done.  Unfortunately, DRP (direct repair program) shops are normally the ones that cut the most corners to stay in the good graces of insurance companies that like cheap repairs.  Pick a shop you trust; it's your car.

3.  I am an expert in DV. In fact, I give a seminar on the subject matter to attorneys and adjusters.  The amount of damage definitely makes a difference in the lost value.  It is not just the fact it was in a wreck.  A vehicle that had a scratch buffed out of the bumper does not lose as much value due to the repair as a vehicle that has had to have the entire rear end re-built.  It is just a market reality.  The amount of damage repaired DOES affect the DV.  The less the damage, the less things that were repaired that can go wrong in the future.  There are a lot of factors that go into writing an appraisal of value (especially inherent diminished market value), and there are published methods that must be used.  Most "experts" have no clue how to prove that they developed their opinion properly, much less produce a report that is sufficient.  Trust me, nobody has ever successfully challenged my authority regarding inherent diminished market value and how it is technically proven.  

4.  American Access does not even have to talk to you.  It is indeed the liability portion of their insured's policy that dictates their duty.  Under that portion, their only duty is to settle or defend claims against their insured (if coverage is valid and if liability is reasonably clear).  As far as rental. . . The law says they only owe for the cost of temporary replacement transportation in most cases, so I would suggest you see if they will just pay you cash for the loss of use and take what you can get there.  Getting a realistic cost for temporary transportation requires a market evaluation, too.

I hope that helps a little more, but if not, anytime you call my office, somebody will answer, and I generally am available on short notice.  Getting candid, on the spot, answers from my office might help you to make a decision about what to do.  Most of the time, people in your position have to file a small claims suit (or at least properly threaten it) against the negligent party to get a fair shake.  Filing a suit and winning is the only way you can make a negligent driver legally liable for your damages, up until then, it is all just negotiation.

If you are persistent, you should be able to get a settlement that is fair from American Access, but you must know the claims game very well, and you should correspond in writing so you can track progress.  We help people all over the US, all the time, and many times, for free.  Answering questions and providing information for free helps to prove that our company is the most knowledgeable and valuable company in existence for help with lower value property damage claims that attorneys generally won't look at.  I'm low pressure, and I don't "sell" people my products or services.  If people pay me, it is because they needed to in order to get their claim paid, not because I talked them into it.  

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for your answers. I think the odds are not in my favor to go through my insurance and let them subrogate considering the low amount of my damages, hence I am leaning towards getting it fixed with one of the DRP shops of American Access. They simply won't negotiate the labor rates so I can't go with any shop of my choice unless I spend out of my pocket. I can make peace with that.

However, the estimate says they'll replace the parts with "aftermarket crash parts" which after doing some research, I found to be common practice in the market. Digging little bit further, I found that they won't be using any certified parts (e.g. CAPA certified) parts and most likely the parts would be value line by some manufacturer. I feel I am already compromising a lot on this claim, how do I ensure that the repairs are at least of decent quality with the use of quality parts. And, on a side note, is there any state law pertinent to Illinois which I can quote or use to negotiate good quality parts with the adjuster?

Wow, you have great questions.  Okay, so if you go with a shop that you don't trust, then you really are simply accepting the risk of having to fight with the shop, not the insurance company.  Here's a link to some of the regulations in IL in reference to collision repairs...

That's your concern, in my opinion.  You can't force anything on the insurance company, but you can hold the shop up to the letter of the law in regards to the regulating authority that exists, and hope for the best.  

Seriously, there is not a lot you can do except find a shop that is willing to repair your vehicle with your interest as the owner and customer in mind.  To my knowledge, there is not any law that says they have any other duty than to pay for the reasonable cost of repair (and they can argue non-capa parts are reasonable if they are not on certain areas).  Your own coverage would be bound by the policy language of your policy with them, and generally wouldn't cover the DV. You seem to have it figured out.  Pick a shop you like, or deal with the one they pick out that will do it the way they say.  If the repair is sub-par, you will just have to fight with the shop until it is right, or give up and accept the quality the way it is.  I hope this helps you decide what to do.  

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Justin Petty


Challenge me! I promise that I will provide you with the most honest answer I can muster, and I will base it on nearly 20 years of complex claims experience. My strength is shooting it straight and seeing through BS. I do not bluff and I can tell when somebody is. I've handled claims in almost every State in the U.S. and adjusted claims and consulted attorneys and CEO's on recovery and special claims tactics for over a decade. I am the founder and President of Petty Details, LLC. We provide the highest quality claim services to insurance companies, attorneys and individuals all exactly in the same way, by paying attention to the details and doing the right thing.


Nearly 20 years of combined claim company management, litigation, all lines adjusting, claim auditing, damage assessment, subrogation, small claims, tort recovery, collection, skip-tracing, tactical investigations, and contribution claim recovery experience across the United States of America.

NASP (National Association of Subrogation Professionals) (Auto Insurance Expert) Diminished Value Appraisers Group (LinkedIn)

10 years experience in writing and developing technical claims correspondence for litigation and unique scenarios at insurance companies and as a consultant to attorneys assisting with legal briefs and research. 42 published articles relating to auto insurance and claims. Self Published e-books entitled "How Much is My Injury Worth" and "Diminished Value - How Do I Get Paid?".

School of hard knocks, 3 years college, NO DEGREE, years of real world experience running a claims service company and adjusting claims for carriers. Speaks English and Spanish, Limited Portuguese & Italian.

Awards and Honors
Platinum Author ( All Lines Adjuster (TX, 1998 - 2008) TX Public Adjuster (2009 - 2011)

Past/Present Clients
State Farm Insurance, Endeavor GA, MileMeter Ins., American Recreational Markets, Gainsco Ins. Co., Safeway Ins., Home State County Mutual Insurance, Old American County Mutual Insurance, FCCI, Farm Bureau, Liberty Mutual, and Pronto General Agency, LTD just to name a few! On top of insurance companies and attorneys, I have personally helped thousands of accident victims with the difficult and stressful process of navigating their claim to a successful resolution.

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