Determining Car Value and Cost to Repair

There are a couple of sources you can read to determine the depreciated value of a new or used car. One such book is put out by the National Association of Automobile Dealers and the other is the Kelley Blue Book.

Whenever you file a claim, an insurance company will send out an adjustor who will examine the damage to your vehicle and figure out your loss and what it will cost to repair it. Once the adjuster gives you an estimate, you can then compare it to an estimate from a reputable repair shop. The insurance company will not expect you to jump at their first offer. You should first satisfactorily determine how much it will cost to repair your vehicle and not simply take the insurance company's word for it.

You are not required to have repairs performed at a particular repair facility but at least one estimate could be required before work can commence. The insurer will likely accept the lowest bid but if you feel that won't be enough to adequately repair your car, you can refuse their offer.

An insurer can also try to reduce a claim's amount if your older car is fixed with new parts. They can cite that by repairing your less valuable car with brand new parts, your car's value has actually increased and they can reduce a claim by the difference between the new part and an old one. This is called betterment.

If it costs more to repair your car than its actual cash value (ACV), the insurance company may declare it a total loss and pay you the book value. Most insurance companies won't pay to repair a vehicle if it cost more than its worth. If your car is completely totaled, you may argue your car is worth more based solely on the parts used to construct it. In order to seek a higher settlement, you will need to present evidence including service records, mileage, as well as statements from mechanics to prove your car was worth more.