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Property damage, diminished value and injury claims

If you have a property damage claim, here’s an important book to read. “Delay, Deny, Defend” by Jay M. Feinman. An article about this book appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The author is Jeff Gelles, a reporter for the paper.

The author describes tactics used by some insurers to minimize payments and thereby increase their own profits. The tactics are used in claims for personal injury, property damage or both. For example, a recent case involved damage to an expensive collectors car. The car was purchased new for $89,000 and within a few months was taken for service to the dealer. The car was damaged in the shop, so the shop offered to repair the car at no cost to the car owner. However, the car was no longer in mint condition and lost $24,000 in value in terms of resale, or trade in. The car owner wanted compensation, but the insurance company for the shop argued that the car had been repaired, and that’s all that was required. Unfortunately, the car owner had to go to court to collect, and he won. The insurer refused to pay for the loss of value, and forced the owner to sue. They argued first, that there was no liability for the loss, second, that any loss was exaggerated, and third, that the loss in value was caused not by the damage to the vehicle, but by the depreciation that occurs to all new cars as they get older. Ultimately, they lost, because most states have adopted the Restatement of Torts which describes the liability of someone who causes damage to the property of another person. The measure of damage includes loss of value. The owner won a judgment against the shop and the shop’s insurer.