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Automobile Appraisals: Insurance & Diminished Value

By: James Polk
Tel: (805) 646-7293
Email Mr. Polk
Website: www.polkassociates-llc.com.


Collectibles, Classics, and Custom vehicles have increased in value, it is very important to understand the correct value.

Insuring a vehicle is the most common reason creating a need for an accurate valuation followed by, financing, buying, selling etc. Regular insurance may cost a fortune; collectible insurers may have lots of restrictions. If you intend a reasonable amount of use, be careful, read between the lines, don't delude yourself in thinking you will be able to work around the restrictions.

Establishing and protecting the value of your vehicle is one of the most important things you will ever do if you intend to continue to own a Classic. The most important figure, (which all decisions as to whether there will be a cash settlement, repairs, totaled, etc.) is based on the actual cash value immediately prior to loss.

Actual Cash Value is what your vehicle is worth at a specified period of time. A regular insured vehicle will be compared to other vehicles of similar year and model. Many of your vehicles are very rare; you need to know the current value of your vehicle.

All insurance policies should be considered contracts. They are legally binding agreements between you and the insurance company. Basically they are agreeing to make you whole if you have an insured loss. They may repair your vehicle to your satisfaction, if so great, however most deputes begin when a theft or total loss occurs. The insurance company will pay you the actual cash value immediately prior to the loss or the maximum value of the policy which ever is less.

Insurance applications require your signature and will include terms and conditions that may allow (at time of claim) re-evaluation of the value of your vehicle and that you agree to settle any disputes through arbitration and not to sue until all these conditions have been meet.

When your vehicle is insured under a stated value or specialty vehicle policy its value is noted as supplied by you or a professional appraiser. This value will be the limit of the insurance company's obligation.

More often than not, the first time a professional will look at the given value of your vehicle is when you submit a claim. Your given value will be carefully evaluated. Hopefully your value will have been established by a professional appraisal. Don't wait till this point to establish the value of your vehicle.

An appraisal completed by a competent professional will be your best asset. Replacement Value is legally determined by approved methods found in state insurance codes or uniform arbitration laws.

Many owners, when making a claim, resort to clipping ads from newspapers, Hemmings, Autotrader, etc., adding up receipts, you are wasting your time. To dispute the insurance company you will need to retain an appraiser. The after-the-fact appraisal will be much more difficult and costly.

Polk & Associates appraisals will reflect the Replacement value as of the date of inspection, based in part, upon comparable vehicles of similar condition and authenticity, which are available in the open market. It has much greater value to have completed the appraisal prior to a claim filed with an insurance company.

Our appraisals are completed in accordance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, which are widely accepted as the industry standard and accepted by the insurance industry, financial community and in arbitration.

Our appraisals will give a good idea of what you can reasonably expect to receive in the event of a claim. The appraisal will document insurers pre-claim knowledge of substantiated value.


James Polk's, knowledge of the personal property appraisal market is based on extensive study, education, and over 30 years experience in the Automotive, Aircraft and Related Industries. He appraises Personal Property including Aircraft, Cars, Trucks, Motorcycles, RVs, Boats, Machinery, Equipment and Residential Contents.

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