Insurance heads up

Roger M. Woodbury rmwoodbury at
Fri Dec 13 17:43:15 EST 2002

Now, wait a minute.  You are a long way from done.  Just because some
insurance adjuster yahoo SAYS that ACV is some-such, doesn't make it so.

Actual Cash Value is the real dollar value that that car will bring in the
town or area in which is was principally garaged, and the rating territory
that was a factor in the rating of the vehicle to begin with.

What you need to do is to prove the insurance adjuster wrong....or perhaps,
prove him right.  Here is how you should go about it.

First of all, go to an authorized Mazda dealer.  If you have a recent
picture of the car, AND all records for all the work done on the car, take
them with you.  If you have records for maintenance on the car since it was
new, or newer, take them too.  The more pictures you have the better.

Ask the dealer what THAT car would be worth, theoretically, at retail
(Actual Cash Value!), if it was sitting on his lot.

Repeat the exercise at two other dealerships in town, or the local shopping

Be straight with the dealers.  Explain that your wife has just survived a
total loss accident in THAT car.  Tell them that when she gets out of the
hospital, she will need new transportation (hence going to the Mazda dealer
to begin with, of course).  Tell them that the insurance adjuster is giving
you what you think is an unfair valuation, as the car was in much better
than "average" condition.  Provide as much detail as you can.

The three dealers should be willing to give you a statement in writing.  It
doesn't have to be something that will withstand a Supreme Court Challenge.
It is only important that the dealer, authorized Mazda or someone else, has
stated in writing, that on the basis of the information and documentation
that you have provided, the Actual Cash Value (ask the dealer to use those
words!), of that car on his lot would have been "X" dollars.

You may be surprised at what the Actual Cash Value may be or it may
not be better than you have been offered, but by all means, do NOT merely
accept what has been told you by the insurance company adjuster.  I doubt
that he has done more than look up the value in the "books".

I was in the insurance agency business for a lot of years, and I can tell
you, that that Mazda poses difficult considerations.  Its age, mileage and
model make it an automatic write-off, as far as the insurance company is
concerned, because most that age are really worth very, very little.  But
they will gladly provide a better settlement to you, IF you can prove that
they should.

A client of mine once had a VW Bus that was very old.  He had a lot of work
done on the engine and electrical system, as well as extensive body work.
He had recent receipts for more than $1900.  The bus was stolen and torched,
and the insurance company offered him $300 which was exactly book that case, NADA Blue Book, which was what was most commonly

He did exactly what I told him to do, and the valuations from three dealers
in town (there were NO VW dealers, by the way), appraised the records and
pictures of the bus at between$1800 and 2500.  My client got the $1900 that
he had put into the bus over the previous six months, AFTER deductible.

Let me know what happens, if you would, and also, I would love to know the
name of the insurance company involved.


(Mercifully out of the insurance biz for twelve years).

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