Warning on vehicle insurance values

Car pricing company, GetWorth, has warned that the gap between vehicle insurance and vehicle replacement values are widening.

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The company says Insurance values have not kept pace with vehicle values since the COVID pandemic started. Car owners experiencing a total loss could find their insurance pay-out well short of the replacement cost of a similar car.

According to Mark Ridgway, Chief Technical Officer of GetWorth, insurance companies most often use book value to calculate the pay-out after a vehicle loss.

Book values are usually calculated on long-term trends, which have been skewed by the current market shortage and the subsequent rising of vehicle prices. This, says GetWorth, has led to many cases where the current market values are out of sync with the long-term book levels.

The effect is not evenly spread. Mark gives some examples: “If you own a Ford EcoSport with average mileage, the book value will be reasonably in line with the current market value. However, if you own a Toyota Land Cruiser 200 and your insurance is based on book value, you are probably deeply under-insured – by between 15% and 30%.”

The other big discrepancy he points out is the mileage effect. Because most insurers do not know the mileage of a person’s car, they use the average book value. This is a value based on an average mileage for a used car of a certain age. For example, a six-year-old car would be assumed to have around 100 000 km on the clock.

However, lower-mileage cars have a higher market value. Mark gives an example: “A 2016 BMW X5 xDrive30d M Sport with 100 000 km would retail for around R600 000. The same car with only 50 000 km on the clock would retail at or above R700 000. Mileage makes a big difference to price, especially on newer cars or luxury models.”

Mark says that these differences will only affect incidents where there is a total loss. For a fender-bender or damaged windscreen, the insurer will pay for the repairs as the market value of the car doesn’t come into play.

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