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How to determine actual cash value of vehicle


Question: How is the "actual cash value"(ACV)of my car is determined?

Answer: Your vehicle's actual cash value is determined by comparing your vehicle's condition to similar vehicles. This may include input from local auto dealers, private parties or recent sales, which the adjusters use in their valuation. Condition, equipment and mileage differences are also taken into consideration. Actual cash value is most commonly used to determine the payout from a totaled car.

Your insurance company may use a computerized evaluation process to assist them in determining the value of your vehicle. Insurance companies purchase third party computer systems (such as CCC) that help them estimate costs in automotive claims and collision repairs. Third party software supplies insurers with software and a database that helps determine the value of a vehicle based upon automating the claims process. These systems have databases and systems that contain benchmarking tools to find the true value of a vehicle from repair shops and dealers.

When a carrier determines your ACV you can ask them what they used to determine this value. The purpose of reimbursing for your actual cash value is to pay you back and make you whole, so if the value determined seems unfair, you should dispute it with your claims adjuster and insurance company.

Classic and restored cars

For classic and restored vehicles, you typically do not have an auto insurance policy that pays actual cash value if the car is totaled. When a typical policy covers physical damage, it won't insure vehicles over a certain age (usually 20 years, sometimes fewer). For that reason, you can purchase a "stated value policy" for classic or restored vehicles. You and your agent determine the value that you want to be covered and your premium is based upon that. When a loss occurs, you are covered up to that stated value.

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18 Responses to "How to determine actual cash value of vehicle"
  1. James Gallagher

    I thought that NADA (suggested) values are based on industry sales reporting from retail and wholesale transactions. Is this correct, and are there any sites that you can recommend that have more verifiable information for calculating ACV? Do you know of any accurate sources for calculating the depreciation resulting from an accident? An example would be a current model year vehicle with less than 2,000 miles that sustained damage equal to to one third of the actual retail cost.

  2. Visitor

    The content of information is short and to the point but misses out in this question if the car insurance will value the cash price of the vehicle before the damages or will value both components, that is the market value minus the damages of the vehicle which it wasn't clear as to which way they value the car.

  3. Anonymous

    Would be great if you advised on state regs regarding acv on total loss or provided a direct link for states info when it varies from norm. ...Also, advise on negotiation on settlements

  4. Anonymous

    Insurance companies usually pay far less then the replacement value. My 99 contour was a total loss. To replace it as well maintained was it was would have been an extra $1,700.00 and they said they have a special book where they get the value and that value is final. Full coverage Insurance is basically a rip-off when it comes to them paying to actually replace it in the same condition you were driving it.

  5. Anonymous

    If you look at your insurance policy it will say that your vehicle will be reimbursed for ACV. KBB and NADA are not accurate websites when determining market value as they are based on opinion and "suggested" value, not any facts. Insurance companies are not required to pay for dealer price as dealers mark up their value. Most of the time the peoples cars are not in "dealer condition" anyway, so why would insurance companies replace vehicles...

  6. Anonymous

    The insurance company is only supposed to pay the driver the trade in value?? The TRUTH is that the insurance companies are supposed to pay the FULL RETAIL VALUE of the vehicle. Don't believe this bull! Do the research. You will see what I am talking about.

  7. Anonymous

    great site, very helpful. thanks

  8. Anonymous

    I get the answer but recently I ran over a tire that came off of a tractor trailer on the freeway at night. The tire broke off half of my front bumber and took off all of the back bumper as I drove over it. The trucker admitted the wrong and the lazy company he drove for refused to pay the full price to make my care hole again, and to make things worse my insurance companys cheap adjuster only allowed a small amount that would not even purchase used bumpers for my car. I have to bare the cost and time of finding used bumpers on my own, pay for a rental because I was told that once they settle on a amount you no longer have the right to keep a car rental after a week. I am without tranportation while my car sits at a collision garage waiting for them to find used bumpers that I will have to help pay for. Insurance is a JOKE, but you better have it or else. Yes, insurance companys dont care about your issues unless the issue is you not paying your payments.

  9. Anonymous

    There seems to be a big differrence in the actual cash value of a vehicle when comparison to nada and kelly blue book my truck had a $4000 difference Im sure the insurance company is going buy the cheapest, Nada.

  10. Anonymous

    My car was totaled and the insurance company wants to give me $5,000 under NADA,that includes sales tax which all insurance companies are required to pay on top of ACV.

  11. Anonymous

    Helpful, but not complete. I still don't know what the cash value of my truck is and therefore what I am paying for.

  12. Anonymous

    Geico insured a person who hit my wifes car, the car is totalled and they want to give us almost $3000 below KBB and other averages. What a rip off, how can insurance companies not even pay what it would cost to replace the car (including all the aggrevation and time I am now spending on this.

  13. Anonymous

    I cannot find what the actual cash value is. I keep seeing trade-in value; private seller, and dealership rate. Which is the closest to the actual cash value?

    1. HONDA February 20, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      My car was totaled and the other person was at fault. His insurance uses J.D. Power -- it's an external company that only uses cars on the current market by private owners. The vehicles must be the same make model year and similar mileage. They then average out the cost value and make adjustments based on the differences like condition, miles,and add-ons. I refused to take the first offer and then found my car for sale at a higher price than the three they had used and it increased my average. I am now getting $400 more than before but I had to do the work. They will not use dealership value, NADA, Kelley Blue Book, or like sites. Only vehicles comparable to yours so get on Craigslist, Auto Traders, and like sites with actual private sellers. Good luck.

        Reply »  
  14. Anonymous

    My car is a 1966 Restored Corvette. Edmunds does not go back to 1966. Plus certain cars value goes up after a period of time. If Actual Cash Value is what the car will actually sell for, the older cars value should take this into account plus any documneted restoration? Thanks

  15. Anonymous

    I was involved in an accident in the past few days and didn't know what to expect from the insurance company of the person who hit me. All of the questions and answers have been excellent.

  16. Anonymous

    I would have rated it "10" if the "CCC" computer system was explained more. A link to that (like the links to edmunds, kelly blue book and nada guide) would have been cool, too.

  17. Anonymous

    where does one find the acv of their car, thus they can figure out that collission coverage on an older vehicle is a waste of money

Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided are for information purposes. They are not intended to substitute informed professional advice. These responses should not be interpreted as a recommendation to buy or sell any insurance product, or to provide financial or legal advice. Please refer to your insurance policy for specific coverage and exclusion information. Please read our Terms of Service.

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