Appreciating the value of a good car

Restored Ford Bronco

One of the Tri-Cities locals’ favorite summer traditions is appreciating the value of a good car. Not just a reliable car, but a really good-looking car.

Every year, the Cool Summer Nights car show in Richland showcases hundreds of antique, custom, and special vehicles shown off all at once. It is truly a memorable experience! Looking at all those hot-rods, one can only imagine the care and effort their owners put into them. From restoring antiques to adding incredible mods, this hobby can get expensive quickly. Owners of these special cars are intimately aware of the value of their cars, both from sentimental and purely financial perspectives. Just take a look at this custom vehicle in front of Snake River Street Rods in Kennewick.

Snake River Street Rods near Kennewick, Washington.


Although the regular commuter car or family minivan may not be a custom Mater from Cars, it is important for everyone to know the worth of their car. In this blog post, let’s look at how insurance adjusters evaluate the worth of cars and what you can do to make sure your car is being properly valued. Let’s also look at the what to do if your car is like the ones shown off at Cool Summer Nights.

“Accidents” happen

Last year in Washington, there were a reported 78,544 car crashes. Some people call them accidents, but for some reason they don’t seem to be caused by people that are paying attention to other cars and drivers. So, we usually call them crashes or collisions. Anyway, although that number is down from 2021’s reported 103,280 collisions, that is still a huge number of cars that were damaged!

Although some collisions are simple fender-benders and only require minor repairs, many can be much more serious. Here at Anderson Law, we have seen cars hit from every direction because the other driver was texting, on the phone, going too fast, or sliding on ice. Sometimes how insurance companies value car damages can seem just as random and chaotic as being hit from every direction, and many times owners people feel like they are getting less money then the deserve. To better understand this process, we need to understand Actual Cash Value (ACV) and New Car Replacement Insurance.

What is ACV?

Actual Cash Value, or ACV, is a term that means “the value of your car right before it was totaled.” Different states have their own definitions of ACV and methods on how to calculate ACV found in state codes. In Washington, WAC 284-30-391 gives us the method and procedure for finding out the ACV of a car. Essentially, in Washington insurance adjusters are supposed to look for “comparable” vehicles within a “reasonable distance” from where the crashed vehicle is currently garaged. The Washington code gives insurers a few methods for determining ACV. Among these options are: First, the insurer can get a quote of the most comparable vehicle from one or more licensed dealers within 150mi of the damaged car. Second, the insurer can compare the damaged vehicle to two or more comparable vehicles advertised for sale within the same 150mi area. Third, insurers can use a “computerized source” to calculate the ACV of a car. The computerized source must meet several requirements such as only looking at vehicles available for sale within 90 days of the date of the collision.

Typically, insurance companies look at factors such as Make, Model, Year, Mileage, Pre-loss condition, and depreciation. Surprisingly, cars in 2022 did not depreciate as quickly as they did in 2021 . Perhaps this is due to the supply chain aftereffects of the Pandemic. Either way, not all cars depreciate the same. For example, luxury cars tend to depreciate much faster than the average vehicle. Some cars even appreciate, something Cool Summer Nights car owners are well aware of.

Can you negotiate a settlement with Big Insurance?

Yes! As we’ve mentioned before, if you are not satisfied with the insurance company’s decision, you can try to negotiate with them. They will typically make a written explanation for how they came up with the amount they did. If they did not provide a copy to you, you can ask for a copy of the valuation report. Be sure to take note of your car’s features and do your own research for comparable cars within the same area.

If your car has custom features or special equipment, you have the right to compensation. The insurance company might not have considered all the features of your car. Be careful if you are modifying your car or are installing after-market equipment. Altering your car may limit complicate products liability that can protect you in the case of defect. Know your insurer’s stance on customization.

Collisions damage more than just the cars

While it is important to know the worth of your car, it is also very important to remember that many times, car crashes cause far worse damages to the people involved. Even simple fender benders at 15 mph can cause significant back injuries that surface after the collision and linger for years. An experienced attorney can help ensure you are not only getting compensated for your car’s injuries, but yours as well. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

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