Replacement Value for Damaged Vehicle

Q:  My vehicle is a one-owner vehicle in great condition, but the book value is only $2,000. It will cost $4,000 to buy an equally reliable vehicle. Can I make the other insurance co. pay $4,000?

A:  If your property is destroyed by another’s negligence, you are entitled to be paid the fair market value of your property at the time it was damaged, plus its loss of use during a reasonable time to find a replacement. The key is determining the fair market value. The “book value” may or may not be the reasonable value of your vehicle. You should thoroughly research the value, using on-line sites, newspaper ads, visits to car lots, to determine the price of similar or comparable vehicles, and save proof of those sales. Proof of repairs or improvements you recently made to the vehicle (for example: new tires), can be helpful in getting a fair value. But, if after doing all these things, it is established that your vehicle was only worth $2,000, you will not be able to obtain more just because you will have to pay more to get a vehicle that you think is just as reliable as your old one. However, do not forget to get payment for the rental value, or the cost of a comparable rental car, during the time you are looking for a replacement.