Actual cash value in car insurance is the amount a car is worth after taking factors such as age, mileage, and cosmetic damage into account. A vehicle’s actual cash value (ACV) is calculated by subtracting the vehicle’s depreciation from its original price.
Most car insurance policies will pay a vehicle’s actual cash value if the vehicle is totaled in a covered scenario. In this case, the ACV will reflect how much the car was worth immediately before the damage occurred.
Actual Cash Value Example
You purchase a new car for $20,000.
On the way home from the dealership, another driver hits you and totals your car.
You receive a payout for $18,000, the car’s actual cash value.
Even though you just paid the sticker price for this car, the actual cash value reflects the fact that it was technically a used car right before the accident. In fact, the average car depreciates about 15% - 20% in the first year of ownership and 9% - 11% just for driving off the lot.
How to Get More Than a Car’s ACV From an Insurance Payout
If you want to receive more than a vehicle’s actual cash value in the event of a total loss, you can opt for a policy add-on like new car replacement or gap insurance. But bear in mind that these options will increase your premium since the insurer is agreeing to pay you more if you file a total loss claim.
Actual Cash Value is a common form of valuation that insurance companies use.
Generally speaking the two most common forms of valuation are Cash Value and Replacement Value.
Replacement Value is generally considered the better, more expensive coverage version. For personal property, it pays the amount to attempt to replace something that was destroyed or lost. There are limitations to this.
Actual Cash Value is the depreciated value.
For example a T Shirt that has been worn and washed and hence used will be worth only a fraction of what you paid for it. Perhaps 50%.
So if your T Shirt is destroyed in a fire. Would you rather have the $8 Value for it or the $16 repurchase amount?
Cars that are totaled are sold by insurance companies to salvage yards or rebuilders, who will repurpose a vehicle’s parts or attempt to rebuild and resell it. If the damage to a totaled car is so severe that it can’t be rebuilt or used for parts, then it may be sent to a scrap yard, which will recycle the metal. … read full answer
It’s estimated that car recycling is a $25 billion industry in the United States, with more than 12 million totaled vehicles being recycled annually. In the U.S. and Canada alone, recycled vehicles produce enough steel to make about 13 million new cars each year.
Keeping a Totaled Car
It is possible to keep your vehicle after it’s totaled, though it’s usually not recommended. If you decide to keep your vehicle, you need to notify your insurance company. When they send your claim settlement, the salvage value will be subtracted from the final amount since they won’t be able to sell the vehicle.
Actual cash value is the fair market value of the property today considering depreciation, age, etc. Replacement value is the amount it will cost to replace the property. For example, the ACV of a 15 year old refrigerator is minimal. Replacement cost is the price of a new, comparable refrigerator. ACV is determined by the property's age, condition and future useful life. Replacement cost will be the cost to replace a comparable item. Again using the refrigerator example, if you have a standard refrigerator with a freezer on top, insurance will pay to replace the refrigerator with a comparable new item, but it will not pay to buy a new side by side with lots of bells and whistles.… read full answer
New car replacement insurance makes it possible to replace a recently purchased car that suffered damage due to an accident, theft or another event, without losing the money you spent on it. When you purchase a new car, its value drops as soon as you drive it off the dealer’s lot. So, if you get into an accident that day, or even several months after purchasing your car, the amount of money you would be able to recover for its value through your comprehensive or collision coverage would be significantly lower than what you paid for it. However, new car replacement insurance would ensure you get the full amount.… read full answer
If you purchase new car replacement insurance, you would be able to recover the value of a new car of the same make and model at the time of your claim, minus your deductible. For example, if you purchased a new car for $25,000, it would likely drop $5,500 in value after you drive away from the dealership. Drivers who do not have new car replacement insurance would be able to recover no more than that lesser value ($19,500) minus their deductible after an accident. If you have new car replacement insurance, you would be able to recover the full $25,000 minus your deductible.
Most insurance companies estimate that the cost of obtaining new car replacement insurance may add as much as 5% to your premium, on average. This cost varies by company, car age and mileage, as well as the driver’s record. Some companies, including Concord Group and Shelter, offer this coverage at no additional cost.
New car replacement insurance isn’t available through all insurance companies. Well-known insurance companies like Geico, State Farm, USAA and Progressive currently do not offer new car replacement insurance. Others – like Allstate, Liberty Mutual and Travelers, do – but their policies vary widely.
Cars eligible for new car replacement coverage are assessed in two ways: age and mileage. Vehicles two years old or younger, or those that have driven less than 15,000 miles are usually eligible. Leased cars do not qualify for this type of insurance.
WalletHub Answers is a free service that helps consumers access financial information. Information on WalletHub Answers is provided “as is” and should not be considered financial, legal or investment advice. WalletHub is not a financial advisor, law firm, “lawyer referral service,” or a substitute for a financial advisor, attorney, or law firm. You may want to hire a professional before making any decision. WalletHub does not endorse any particular contributors and cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of any information posted. The helpfulness of a financial advisor's answer is not indicative of future advisor performance.
WalletHub members have a wealth of knowledge to share, and we encourage everyone to do so while respecting our content guidelines. Please keep in mind that editorial and user-generated content on this page is not reviewed or otherwise endorsed by any financial institution. In addition, it is not a financial institution’s responsibility to ensure all posts and questions are answered.
Ad Disclosure: Certain offers that appear on this site originate from paying advertisers, and this will be noted on an offer’s details page using the designation "Sponsored", where applicable. Advertising may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). At WalletHub we try to present a wide array of offers, but our offers do not represent all financial services companies or products.