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Insurance Carrier: Farmers Insurance
State: South Dakota

Consumer Complaint:

The snow removal company, hired by my HOA, rammed into my garage door with a 875 lb. BobCat. The garage door and the garage door opener are irrepairable, and have to be replaced, costing $1600. The snow removal company's insurance is depreciating my garage door (per yr.), and deducting that from the total bill. The door company estimator said the door was 10 yrs. old. The insurance adjuster said it is 30 yrs. old. Even though the door and opener were in excellent condition, prior to being damaged, I may have to pay for most of the bill, due to depreciation. Is this legal? What are the laws regarding depreciation, when I am the injured party? Isn't the snow removal company liable for the entire $1600 replacement cost, since they created the damage? Should my HOA pay for the damages, since they hired the snow removal company? I have not had use of my garage, and have to borrow an outdoor parking space, where my car was vandalized. I have arthritis, and am sick from walking in the cold snow and rain to my car, and from the stress this has caused. This happened 3/31, 5 weeks ago. Please help.

Insurance Expert Answer:

Although the snowplow driver was almost certainly negligent when he plowed into your garage door and destroyed it, the measure of damage is not what does it cost to buy and install a new garage door, but the cost to replace it with a garage door of like age and condition. As that's not usually possible they depreciate the value of the garage door.

The age of the garage door should be pretty easy to determine. But even if the door is 30 years old, one major element of cost is the installation cost and that's the same with a new or old garage door. So that's how I'd start to negotiate.