Who Needs to Have Their Car Appraised?
Owners of both modern and classic cars can benefit from a professionally-done appraisal. Issues involving disputes with insurance companies, matters of probate, estate taxes, charitable donations – all these situations require the knowledge of a professional appraiser.
If you currently own and drive a classic or collectible automobile, and if there is no up-to-date, professionally-done appraisal on file with your insurance company, you will find yourself, understandably, in serious difficulty when it comes time (and let’s hope it never does) to make a claim for the loss of this vehicle. You can easily come up thousands of dollars short when all an insurance company has to go on is a demolished or missing automobile!
Have you carefully read the insurance policy now protecting your classic or collectible car? Is it a “Agreed Upon Value” policy from a specialty insurer, who places restrictions on your use and method of storage? Or is it a “Stated Value” policy issued by a “normal” insurer, who also writes up the everyday modern vehicle you drive? *
In a “Agreed Upon Value” policy, appraisals are often required, and you will recover what you expected in case of a loss, presuming your claim is proven legitimate and that it meets the policy’s rules and regulations.
In a “Stated Value” policy, there is often a difference in opinion between insurer and insured as to the fair market value of a special automobile. A certified appraisal in this case would be a crucial factor in your favor. Without an appraisal on record, it is almost certain that you will not be satisfied with the amount offered by your insurance company, and this will require that you enter into arbitration, which is expensive, or worse yet, into a legal action.
Aside from these worst-case scenarios, which hopefully you will never experience, appraisals are also extremely useful when you are buying or selling a collector car, settling an estate or divorce agreement, or donating a vehicle to charity (in certain cases, the IRS requires an appraisal).
* Some “mainline” insurance companies are now writing “Agreed Upon Value” policies.
Can Appraisals Be Done By Mail?
Some appraisers do offer this service as an alternative to an on-site inspection. Quite frankly, this type of appraisal may not stand legal scrutiny and can be defeated in arbitration and/or legal hearings. I personally will not supply an appraisal by mail, but I do offer an economical Market Analysis for potential Buyers or Sellers who don’t need a legal document. (See Appraisals and Services).
Why Can’t I Just Go To a Local Car Dealer or Car Club For An Appraisal?
You can, but here again you are risking a defeat under any type of scrutiny by an insurer, a legal entity or the government. The reasons are numerous, but the two biggest problems are (a) a car dealer or club official is not presumed to be an impartial party, since he/she may have an interest in the car or in a similar car they own, and (b) he/she is usually not equipped to supply the proper photos, forms and documentation that meets the requirements for a legal, certified appraisal.
What should I look for in a good appraisal?
What should I Expect To Pay For An Appraisal?
This depends on a number of factors, including the rarity of your car and the amount of travel time involved; however, we will NEVER based your fee on the value of the car. This is considered a violation of the standard Code of Ethics that any legitimate appraiser would abide by.
On the average, an on-site inspection and full appraisal through us should range from 295-$350 for most postwar cars within the appraiser’s local range. Race cars, hot rods, one-offs and extremely rare cars may (or may not) be higher, and travel time may be a factor as well. Ask for a quote, or even a sample appraisal. Once the appraiser has done his inspection, allow 5-7 days from the time the appraisal is done to the time you receive your documents. Of course, multiple cars might take longer.
Payment is presented at the time of the actual on-site appraisal, payable by personal check, or pre-payment can be arranged through PayPal or other online payment systems.