How to Calculate Fair Market Value After a Car or Truck Accident in Indiana?

fair market value

After an Indiana car accident, most people tend to worry about their injuries and well-being, as they should. Seeking emergency medical attention is crucial after an accident to ensure your health is taken care of and to ensure you get adequately compensated for your medical expenses.

However, something accident victims tend to overlook is their vehicle damage. After an accident, you are entitled to compensation to help you pay for property damage, including car damage. And while insurance companies are required to compensate you based on the fair market value of your vehicle, they do not always do so. 

As such, you must understand how this process works and how to correctly calculate fair market value to ensure you are awarded the amount you need to cover vehicle repairs or to compensate you for a totaled vehicle. 

What Is Fair Market Value?

Fair market value is essentially the price that something would reasonably sell for “on the market” as agreed upon by the seller and the buyer. With a vehicle specifically, fair market value refers to how much the car is worth based on its current conditions. And insurance companies use fair market value to determine claim payouts.

Unfortunately, after an accident, the value of your vehicle will depreciate significantly. Car value can be a tricky thing. Simply driving a brand new car off the lot where it was purchased automatically results in a value depreciation. 

Other things can also lower the value, such as mileage, general wear and tear on the interior and exterior, and past damage. So it only makes sense that current vehicle damage will also lower the depreciation value of a car after an accident. 

How to Calculate Fair Market Value 

When you file a claim after an accident, insurance companies will send someone out to evaluate the condition of your vehicle. However, while they are supposed to pay fair market value, it is not uncommon for them to offer reduced payouts, especially if they don’t think you know your car’s value or if they think you won’t hire an attorney to help you fight for a fair payout. 

When an insurance adjuster evaluates your car, they will look at:

  • The condition your car was in before the accident, such as pre-existing damage
  • The condition your car is in currently to determine the cost of repairs or the cost to replace the vehicle if it is a total loss
  • The age of your vehicle
  • The vehicle history report
  • Make and model
  • Mileage
  • The price of comparable vehicles

However, though the insurance company will do its own work to determine fair market value, you must also do some research to ensure you are genuinely getting a fair payout. If you simply agree to the insurance company’s initial offer, you could be agreeing to less than your car is actually worth. 

To determine fair market value yourself, you should:

  • Obtain your vehicle’s full history report, which means everything that has ever happened to or been done to your car, such as previous damage and repairs, as well as any upgrades that were made. 
  • Check online vehicle value estimators, such as Kelley Blue Book.
  • Call around and ask dealers for price estimates.
  • Gather your own list of comparable vehicle prices.

Once you obtain as much info as possible about your car and its potential fair market value, make sure you compare it to the insurance company’s report and estimate. 

How to Negotiate with Insurance Companies on the Value of Your Vehicle After an Accident

Once you have done your research, you should send this documentation to your insurance company so they can use it to determine the fair market value. If you feel you are still being offered a payout that is less than fair market value, you will need the help of an attorney to handle negotiations. 

A professional lawyer will know what it takes to deal with difficult insurance companies to ensure they pay you what you deserve. In some cases, you may need to have an appraisal done to further prove how much your vehicle is worth. And it may also be possible to file a lawsuit if it is another party’s insurance handling the claim. 

Consult With an Indianapolis Car Accident Attorney 

At Poynter and Bucheri Accident Recovery, we know how devastating it can be to lose your car to an accident or to have to pay high costs for repairs. You deserve to be awarded the full and fair market value for your car or truck so you can cover repair costs or buy a replacement vehicle. 

We can help you calculate the fair market value and negotiate with insurers, so you can rest easy knowing your case is in good hands. Don’t hesitate — an experienced Indiana car accident attorney can assist you right away. Call 1-800-265-9881 for a free case review.