Having a car totaled or stolen is traumatic enough. But then comes the added worry you've been low-balled on the replacement check from your auto insurance company.
The vehicle value detectives at Kelley Blue Book (KBB) may have made it easier for policyholders and claims adjusters to reconcile when determining the final payment. KBB recently refined its vehicle ratings by adding a "Very Good" to the existing categories, which now are:
"This is all about creating more precise values that consumers and businesses can use when buying, selling or leasing cars," says Robyn Eagles, a KBB spokesperson. "Of course, we also hope that insurers and anyone who has an auto policy with them will find it useful because of the increased accuracy with condition and dollar worth."
The company has also sharpened its geographical values. There are now 51 regions to reflect values in each state. There were only five more generalized regions before the upgrade.
This could be helpful because your car may fetch a higher price--and warrant a fatter replacement check from the car insurance company--in one area compared to another. Of course, the opposite could also be true, leaving you with a smaller settlement.
"A convertible Mazda could be worth more in sunny Florida than, say, Montana," Eagles notes. "A consumer might want to know that."
Think you deserve top insurance dollar because the old road warrior was so prime? Think again. Eagles says most people believe their car is in excellent shape, but that's usually not the case.
Only 3 percent of vehicles fit in KBB's "Excellent" category, she says. Eagles adds that:
Anyone can take a "27-point quiz" at KBB's website for a more realistic reading of their car's condition, Eagles notes.
Here are some basic steps suggested by the Insurance Information Institute to guarantee the best insurance settlement possible for a totaled car:
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