Is my insurance company supposed to pay book value for my totaled vehicle?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is my insurance company supposed to pay book value for my totaled vehicle?

I totaled my vehicle. It went through my insurance as no fault. I had full coverage on it. My insurance went and found prices for similar vehicles in the area and said that the average price

was around $3000 less than what we still owed. They said they wouldn’t pay what we owed because we didn’t have gap coverage. However, aren’t they suppose to give book value for the vehicle?

Asked on July 17, 2016 under Accident Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

They're supposed to give the "fair market value." The "book value" is one indicia of what that is, but it's not set in stone: FMV does vary with the car's exact trim and accoutrements, condition, even where you are located (since there is no one national market). If you believe that the amount they are offering is not the fair market value, you could sue them for the amount you think is correct, but since you would need expert testimony (e.g. an appraiser; an experienced car dealer or salesman who has sold this type/year of car; etc.)--court/evidence rules require  a live, knowledgeable person to testify, and you can't simply put "the book" in front of the court--and you'd have to pay such a person for her/his time (unless it's a friend, of course), the suit could cost you several hundred or more dollars, even if you act as your own attorney. If you sue, you may win, but may not--lawsuits are never guaranteed; you could spend money on the suit and delay payment for months only to not get more than they are offering.

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