Your car is a total loss and you feel strongly the insurance adjuster is offering you a low-ball payout on your car. Your first step is do not accept the insurance company's first offer. Your next step is to research the value of your totaled car before the accident and before you agree to any cash settlement with the insurance adjuster.
I realize everyone just wants to get the whole ordeal over with as soon as possible but making a hasty decision at this juncture will most likely cost you hundreds if not thousands in cash on your claim payout. This is what can happen when you try to take a short-cut by using an online car value calculator to determine the market value for your car before it was a total loss. By doing this, you could possibly be risking losing serious cash on your vehicle. The absolute best method is to have an actual cash value report for your car. More on this in a moment.
Actual Cash Value Calculator
An actual cash value calculator is an internal computer program used by some insurance companies to determine the actual cash value of vehicles that have been damaged in an accident. This cash value calculator is not for the public and is only accessible to employees of the insurance company. While some insurance adjusters may rely on these calculators to ascertain a cash payout value for a total loss vehicle, not all insurance companies do. Others, contract the services of independent private companies to determine the actual cash value by doing a car appraisal.
Book Value Calculator
You can find car value calculators on websites like canadianblackbook.com (in Canada), edmunds.com and Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com). However these calculators are best used to get a general idea for trade in value or for a listing value when selling your car. Do not use these services to prove the actual cash value for a totaled car.
If you choose to rely on the indicated book value from an online car value calculator, the chances of your insurance adjuster accepting this value and paying it is extremely remote.
The reason is, the value created be the online value calculators is not the actual cash value. They are to get an idea of a trade-in value or an asking price for a private vehicle listing.
Even if the insurance companies did accept these online book value calculators, it would be in your best interest not to use one. While these calculators do provide an indication of value they can not replace human judgement and rationale when making comparisons between the total loss car and the market value of current comparable vehicles.
For example, online book value car calculators:
- Do not account for after-market items that may increase your cars value
- Do not account for customizations that may increase your cars value
- Do not account for specific differences in wear, tear and damage or lack thereof
- May not account for all vehicle options that may add value
- Use a large sample of vehicles to produce an average estimate of value.
- And most importantly it is not a detailed actual cash value estimate
Unfortunately, there is no short-cut to determining the real actual cash value of a totaled vehicle. That is why the insurance company has professionals working for them to write car appraisals. You also have the option to hire a professional public adjuster to determine the value of a totaled vehicle for you.
If you choose to hire a public adjuster, it could cost you as much as $300 on average to get a actual cash value appraisal for your insurance claim.
However, there is an alternative that is way cheaper compared to the cost of hiring a public adjuster and can produce an actual cash value appraisal your insurance adjuster will accept as an opinion of value.
How to know what your car is really worth Learn more here.
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