Diminished value calculator

Calculate how much your car's value changed after an accident

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

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Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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Calculating diminished value

A car that’s been in an accident is less valuable than it was before the accident. This is true even if repairs return it to working order. The difference between what the pre-accident car was worth, and its market value now is known as the vehicle’s diminished value. 

Has your car been in an accident? Use this calculator to determine the diminished value of your vehicle.

Using the calculator

In order to calculate the diminished value of your vehicle, you will need to gather some information.

1. Pre-accident value of your vehicle

To determine the value of your vehicle, you can use websites like Kelly Blue Book and enter data like your vehicle’s make, model, mileage and location as all of these impact its cost.[1] 

2. How much damage your car sustained

You will also need to provide an honest assessment of how much damage your car received during the accident. Was it structural or more cosmetic damage? How much of the vehicle did it impact? These will all affect your diminished value.

3. Your car’s mileage 

This should be your car’s current mileage, not the mileage at the time of the accident. 

Once you have this information, enter it in the calculator to determine your diminished value.

How diminished value is calculated

Diminished value is typically calculated by your insurance company if you are seeking a diminished value claim payout after an accident. It is calculated using the 17c formula which is as follows.

1. A 10% cap is applied to the car’s pre-loss value

So if your vehicle was worth $10,000 before the accident, the max its diminished value would be is $1,000 (10,000 X .10 = 1,000).

2. A damage multiplier is applied

Next, the damages are taken into account with a damage multiplier running from .00 to 1.00. This is how the level of damage translates to the multiplier. Obviously, the larger the damages, the larger percentage is deducted from the value of the vehicle.

Multiplier Level of damage
0.00 No structural damage
0.25 Minor damage to structure and panels
0.50 Moderate damage to structure and panels
0.75 Major damage to structure and panels
1.00 Severe structural damage

3. Apply a mileage multiplier

Finally a mileage multiplier is added based on the total miles on your vehicle. Multiplier levels are increments of .20.

Multiplier Mileage
1.00 0 - 19,999
0.80 20,000 - 39,999
0.60 40,000 - 59,999
0.40 60,000 - 79,999
0.20 80,000 - 99,999
0.00 100,000+

Diminished value calculation example

Luckily, we do the math for you, but here's an example of what our diminished value calculator does for you in seconds.

Let’s say the market value of your car according to Kelley Blue Book is $12,000. First, take 12,000 and multiply it by 10% to account for the 10% cap. 12,000 x .10 = 1,200. The new number we’re working with is $1,200. This is the maximum amount your insurer would pay out for a diminished value claim.

  • The accident you were in caused moderate damage to the structure and panels of your car. Now take 1,200 and multiply it by the value for moderate damage. 1,200 x .50 = 600.
  • There are 20,000 miles on your vehicle. By applying the appropriate mileage multiplier to the new number calculated in step 3, we have 600 x 0.80 = 480.
  • The diminished value of your car is $480 based on these circumstances.
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But should I file a diminished value claim with my insurance company?

Some insurance companies will allow you to file a claim to recoup the losses when your vehicle drops in value after an accident. If the number from our calculator is equal or less than what the insurance company is willing to pay out, you may wish to proceed with the diminished value claim.

Learn more about how to file a diminished value claim, best practices for filing and other considerations at this resource How to File a Diminished Value Claim.

FAQs about diminished value

The following are common questions you might have after an accident if you are interested in determining the diminished value of your vehicle.

No, diminished value only applies after a car has been in an accident, and is the difference between the car's value before the accident and the car's value after the accident. Depreciation is the gradual loss of value of the vehicle over time.

In order to make a case for diminished value, the more proof and documentation you can provide the better. Having photos of the accident scene and your vehicle and ideally of your car’s condition before the accident are helpful. You will also need to provide records of the repairs. You might also need to provide a vehicle appraiser for their official assessment of damages to determine diminished value.

The condition and value of your vehicle before the accident is a big one. If your car was already old and in poor shape, its starting value was lower. Additionally, the amount of damage sustained and how structural it was and the current mileage of the vehicle will factor in.

Different states have different laws around diminished value claims, including things like the statute of limitations of filing. Look up the regulations in your state for the most accurate answers.

The diminished value is the difference between what your car was worth before the accident and what it is worth now. The diminished value is not what your car is worth now. You can search your VIN number on Kelly Blue Book and enter any details to get an idea of its post-accident value.