How Long Will It Take to Settle My Property Damage Claim?

Property DamageOn average, it will take one month or more to settle your property damage claim, and maybe more.

Why so long?  Because as opposed to an auto damage claim, a cyclist must document the damages, then educate auto insurers as to the value of the bike because they have no idea about such things, and then negate arguments about depreciation based on online sales.

As you might already know, auto insurers can easily handle auto damage claims because they have whole departments who do nothing but evaluate and settle auto property damage claims.  They have adjusters who know cars, and they have relationships with many body shops.  If your car is towed to a body shop, the adjuster goes out and does a basic inspection to see what all was damaged.  Most cars are stock models with little if any upgrades and modifications, so it’s easy for the adjuster to look at the “Blue Book” of car values to determine if your vehicle should be repaired or if it is totaled.  If it’s totaled, and you agree on the value, you receive a check in short order.  If it can be repaired, they put you in a rental car while the car is in the shop.

So there is not too much fuss and muss with auto damage claims.

However, auto insurers don’t understand high-end bicycles and aren’t set up to deal with bike damage claims. Even if an adjuster where to inspect your bike, he/she would most certainly have no idea of what they are looking at. They don’t understand that unlike most cars, most high-end bikes are fairly unique because of the brand, model, color, size, frame material, gruppo, wheels, etc.  Because of this, you must educate the adjuster about your bike, while with your car you don’t have to. You must provide pictures, estimates from bike shops, itemizations of upgrades and damages to shoes, helmets, gloves, kits, etc., and then you must explain all this to adjuster as they have no understanding of carbon wheels, power meters, different saddles, etc. After all of this is provided to the adjuster, then when you start negotiating with the adjuster, you might have to argue that eBay and other online ads or sales (like Bicycle Blue Book) are irrelevant[1], and likewise since there is not valid secondary market for used high-end bicycles[2], depreciation is not a factor to be considered because there is no valid secondary market.[3]

After all of this is provided to the adjuster, then when you start negotiating with the adjuster, you might have to argue that eBay and other online ads or sales (like Bicycle Blue Book) are irrelevant[1], and likewise since there is not valid secondary market for used high-end bicycles[2], depreciation is not a factor to be considered because there is no valid secondary market.[3]

So, in summary, it takes longer to settle a bike damage claim because you have to document your damages, and then educate the adjuster about the value of your bike and other damaged items.  After that, you might have to counter any depreciation arguments that the adjuster might make based on eBay or other online sales.

Do you have questions or need to talk to a bicycle attorney? Call Bill Shirer at 972-392-1225 to discuss your claim today!

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[1] Risks of Buying Online: There are substantial risks in buying a used high-end bicycle online.  First, there is the unknown condition of the bike.  The on-line buyer can’t “kick the tires” and does not know if the bike has been crashed before.  There is also the problem with counterfeits of high-end bikes.  (See Bicycle Makers Struggle to Strike Down Counterfeits, New York Times, July 19, 2015)(See also To Catch a Counterfeiter: The Sketchy World of Fake Bike Gear Bicycling, November/December 2015). Finally, there is the loss of manufacturer warranties that never extend to someone who purchases a used bike.

These factors make buyers resistant to purchasing bikes on-line, and this resistance is another reason there is little in the way of historical data for used high-end bicycle sales.  Used high-end bicycles just don’t sell well online.

[2] No Generally Recognized Secondary Market Value: In the Texas Area in particular and the United States in general, there are virtually few if any used high-end bikes for sale at any given time that match the desired brand, model, size, components, wheels, etc.  This is different than the used car market.  When looking for a used car, a buyer can easily find the desired make and model in a certain color with the right miles, etc. in the geographical area where the buyer lives.  And then there are aftermarket car warranties and such services as “Carfax” that provide some security when purchasing a used car.  This along with the fact that most cars are generally “stock” with few if any upgrades or modifications make for an established secondary market for automobiles.  Because of the stock nature of vehicles, and the high rate of resale, used car prices are well established and accepted by the public and the industry, as is evidenced by the utilization of the Kelly “Blue Book.”

However, these various factors do not exist with used high-end bicycles. Because of all the variables with high-end bikes, a buyer simply can’t find the desired bike for sale in the area, and thus there are few if any sales of used high-end bikes in a given area.  And bike buyers, like car buyers, don’t want to buy a used bike or a used car online.  Because of this, there is no generally recognized market for used high-end bicycles.

[3] Actual Value Is the Value, and not Depreciated Value:  The Texas Supreme Court has held in Crisp v. National Ins. Co., 369 S.W.2d 326, 328 (Tex.1963) that when there is no generally recognized market value, the correct measure of damages is the “actual value to the owner at the time of the loss.”  In Allstate Ins. Co. v. Chance, 590 S.W.2nd 703 (Tex. S. Ct. 1979), the Texas Supreme Court held that “in determining the actual value to the owner at the time of loss” the trier of fact may consider “the original cost, cost of replacement, opinions of qualified witnesses, including the owner, the use to which the property was put.”  Depreciation is not a factor to be considered.

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