Summary – Oregon Diminished Value Claims
Statute of Limitations: 6 years
Third Party Diminished Value Claim: Yes
First Party Diminished Value Claim: No, most insurance policies will exclude diminished value
Oregon Property Damage Minimum Limits: $20,000 in coverage
Uninsured Motorist Coverage for Diminished Value: Yes, it is an optional coverage
Underinsured Motorist Coverage for Diminished Value: Yes, it is an optional coverage
Oregon Small Claims Court Limit: $10,000, attorney representation is not permitted
Oregon Diminished Value Law
In Oregon, third-party claimants are entitled to a vehicle of the same value after the repair as they had before the accident, which means recovery for diminished value is allowed. In Mock v. Terry, if repairing the car does not return it to its previous value, then the difference must be made up in cash.
There are also court cases concerning first party claims such as Gonzales v. Farmers, that states insureds can be compensated for diminished value under their own insurance policy. Unfortunately, most auto insurance policies exclude coverage for first party diminished value making the ruling in this case of little value to you if you are trying to claim diminished value against your own policy.
However, there is an exception, if the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance you may be eligible to file a diminished value claim under your own insurance policy (uninsured motorist property damage coverage).
If the accident was caused by an uninsured driver or hit and run driver, generally there is coverage under your uninsured motorist property damage for all sums which you are legally entitled to recover had the at-fault party had insurance. Your diminished value loss is one of those sums that you’re legally entitled to recover.
ORS 20.080 is a statute that applies to all property damage and bodily injury claims that are less than $10,000 and creates a right to recover attorney fees. The statute was enacted to pressure insurance companies into settling lower value claims, that if not handled appropriately, could turn relatively small claims into high risk, attorney fee cases.
The goal of ORS 20.080 is not necessarily to take small cases into litigation, but rather to motivate insurance companies to resolve the smaller cases.
How to File a Diminished Value Claim in Oregon
Step 1. Proof of loss. It’s your responsibility to prove the repaired vehicle is worth less than before the accident. Quantifying how much less a buyer would be willing to pay can be done by an appraiser that specializes in diminished value.
Step 2. File a diminished value claim. By filing a diminished value claim through the at-fault party’s insurance company, you can get back your car's lost value following an accident. The sooner you file your diminished value claim, the better. Submit the appropriate documents for review (diminished value appraisal and a 30-day demand letter that mentions ORS 20.080).
Step 3. Negotiate a settlement. Because diminished value claims are complex, it’s important that you work with a professional auto appraiser who has expertise in these matters. The more documentation you have, the more you might experience success when making a claim
Because of ORS 20.080, most diminished value claims in Oregon settle without the need to involve an attorney and without the need to go to court. Insurance companies handling Oregon diminished value claims are aware of the financial risks they face if they don’t handle your claim fairly.
If you beat their low offer in court by even a penny, you collect your award plus costs, and your attorney collects their legal fees which can be many times higher than your actual diminished value loss.
In Oregon, you’ll need help proving your claim and that’s where DVCHECK can help. As a provider of diminished value appraisal reports, we’ll provide the evidence you’ll need.
If you have any questions or would like a free claim review, feel free to contact us at 704-209-7629.