Insurance Terms Explained: Actual Cash Value VS Replacement Cost

It always pays to have insurance — that’s common knowledge. Yet sometimes trying to cut through the terminology and jargon can prove difficult. When shopping for insurance or preparing to file a claim, you may find that you need a little guidance on what some of these terms mean; such is the case with the terms Actual Cash Value, or ACV and Replacement Cost.

In some instances, a policy with one of these could pay significantly less on your claims than the other — it literally pays to know the difference. How can you know which? First you need to understand what the terms mean.

Defining the terms

In the simplest terms, Actual Cash Value refers to the monetary value of an item. Keep in mind that this takes into account depreciation. For example, a vehicle purchased five years ago will have a lower ACV now than when you first bought it.

Replacement Cost refers to the cost of replacing damaged property with a replacement used for the same purpose and made of similar material and of comparable quality.

A real world example of ACV

Let’s return to the aforementioned vehicle purchased five years ago. In this example you have taken great care of your vehicle, but it has still sustained minor scratches in the paint. It would not be unreasonable to assume that you have driven roughly 60,000 miles in those five years. So if that vehicle sustained damage requiring a replacement, your insurance company would not compensate for the price of the vehicle when purchased. Rather they would consider the vehicle’s current worth, or ACV.

How insurance carriers calculate Actual Cash Value varies from company to company, and these calculations often get incredibly detailed and complex. For this example, however, the insurance company would subtract the depreciation from the replacement cost to assess the Actual Cash Value. The level of depreciation itself can involve a complicated calculation involving an estimate of the length of time property would remain useful, and how long it had been used.

In most cases, this calculation is much more complex, but this example provides a useful summary of ACV and explanation of how insurance companies arrive at that figure.

An example of Replacement Cost

Most people find Replacement Cost a bit easier to understand — largely because it’s more straightforward. It simply refers to the expense of replacing damaged property based on current costs. In the case of the damaged vehicle, Replacement Cost would refer to the amount of money necessary to provide a comparable replacement. This doesn’t mean that an exact duplicate of the damaged vehicle, but a similar vehicle of comparable quality.

Actual Cash Value VS Replacement Cost

One the surface, these two seem incredibly similar — and they are. The only significant difference between them lies in the deduction of value based on depreciation. Otherwise, both terms refer to the cost of replacing destroyed or damaged property with new property.

In practice however, ACV might not help as much. In our vehicle example, the calculation for Actual Cash Value might not take into consideration the rising cost of vehicles. You might find it difficult to replace your totaled vehicle with one of comparable quality with ACV.

As another example, consider if you lost your house because of fire. The Actual Cash Value may not provide enough money to purchase a house in the current market, especially if property values have risen in your area.

Replacement Cost, however, addresses the real life cost of replacing your property. In the case of the vehicle, it would adjust for higher vehicle prices. In the example of the house lost to fire, it would allow you to rebuild your home based on the current costs of materials and labor.

ACV or Replacement Cost

For most property owners, an insurance policy that covers Replacement Cost offers a much safer option. Because of the reasons stated above, these policies will go a lot further to replace your property than those that cover Actual Cash Value.

This comes with a few caveats. Often policies with Replacement Cost coverage will have higher premiums than policies that offer Actual Cash Value. Additionally, some property owners who rent out homes will opt for lower premium ACV policies, and require tenants to insure their personal possessions via renters insurance.

In most cases, insurance policies that cover Replacement Cost will offer greater security in the case of damaged or destroyed property. Although no one wants to face the challenge of replacing a vehicle, home or other property, an insurance policy that covers Replacement Cost provides the better route to getting yourself back to the life you had before the loss.

If you have any questions about insurance terminology and what the factors can impact your rates, our team is happy to provide you with some guidance!  You can Contact Us at your convenience.  For additional information on insurance terms, visit our website page here: Insurance Terms & Definitions.

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An Annual Review of Your Policies can Save You Money

Many people think of March and April as the time of year for Spring Cleaning.  The snow and ice begin to melt away and we start to think about spending more time outdoors.  We look at things that we need to to outside in our yards for annual maintenance, and we begin to prepare for tax season – where we look at our financial documents for the year and assess our financial ‘health’.   It’s also a great time of year to conduct an annual review of your insurance policies.

Our lives change on an ongoing basis, so it’s important that your insurance coverage changes as well.  How long has it been since you last assessed your policies?  Our team at Bieritz Insurance wants to make sure you are not overpaying for your policies and we also want to make sure you are not under-insured.  When you conduct a review of your insurance, you might find out that there are increases, deductions or discounts.

Things that can impact your rates are things like a new baby in your household, additions or improvements that you have made to your home, property that you may have inherited, recreational vehicles that you have purchased or sold, a college student who is renting an apartment, or maybe you have reached retirement age.  There are other things as well: new drivers in your household, real estate market changes, landscaping changes, etc.

Typically, we understand that our assets change over time. What we don’t usually think about is that the value of those assets change as well.  If your home has appreciated in value, you need to make sure that your insurance coverage allows for this increase in value in case of catastrophic loss.  If you purchased your home at $250,000 ten years ago, and the value has since appreciated to $300,000, you want to make sure that your insurance policy will cover you for a $300,000 loss in case of a catastrophic event.  In other words, if your coverage hasn’t been updated since you purchased your home, your insurance value might not cover full replacement if your home value has increased.  In this instance, a review of your policy might increase your policy payments, but you are assured of having the coverage that is right for you.

There are other instances where your policy payments might decrease.  Maybe you installed a home security system or an emergency battery backup for your sump pump or perhaps you have hit an age milestone that would qualify you or members of your family for additional discounts on your auto insurance policies.

A look through your policies on an annual basis can help you find these things and can ultimately save you money on your policy premiums.    Whether you are a current client or maybe just looking for some cost comparisons as part of your process, you can contact us in Cooperstown at  607-547-2951 or in Morris at 607-263-5170 to schedule an appointment for a review!  In most cases, we can save you money.  We work with over 20 companies so that we can find exactly the right products to fit your needs at the right price for your budget.

 

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Cataloging your possessions for insurance

A homeowner’s insurance policy covers replacement value of your home and possessions in the event of a catastrophe, break-ins or other events. If you need to make a claim, you will need documentation of your household possessions to prove replacement value.  Our favorite tool to help you with the process of cataloging your possessions among several available is one called ‘Know Your Stuff’.

know your stuff

Important Note: Before you begin this process, it is recommended that you check with your insurance provider to see if they have specific reimbursement requirements so that you can be aware of them for your inventory.

Know Your Stuff is a free online inventory service provided by the Insurance Information Institute. The site will walk you through configuring rooms in your home and listing the specific items in each area, complete with photos and receipts for documentation. Because the site walks you through everything you need to enter, you can be sure you’re recording all of the right information. When you are finished with your documentation, everything is stored securely online, so you have easy access to your home inventory from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Even though an online service makes things easier than keeping an inventory on paper, it can still be frustrating to have to photograph all of your possessions and attach those photos one by one to your inventory. To simplify things, Know Your Stuff also has a free app for both iPhone and Android phones. Using the app, you can modify or add to your online inventory—and easily add photos directly from your phone.

We think that Know Your Stuff has the most comprehensive toolset available on the web or your mobile device, which makes it our top recommendation for the best digital home inventory tool.

If you are not quite happy with Know Your Stuff, there are other tools available (also for free) including:

If you are looking for any additional information about cataloging your household, please feel free to contact us.  Bieritz Agency can help you with all your insurance needs.  Call us for a free quote – we can save you money!

Bieritz Insurance Agency, is proud to offer two convenient locations in Otsego County.

Your “Hometown” Insurance Specialists!

HOME • AUTO • BUSINESS • LIFE • FARM • BOAT • CYCLE & MORE

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Bieritz Insurance Agency
209 Main Street
Cooperstown, NY 13326
607-547-2951
FAX 607-547-4487
info@bieritzinsurance.com

Morris Insurance Agency
128 Main Street
P.O. Box 70
Morris, NY 13808
607-263-5170
FAX 607-263-5270
agent@morrisinsuranceny.com

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Social Media Security for the Holidays

VacationSM2Social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family from all over the world, but privacy settings only go so far to limit what people can see and learn about you. Although this is not a new topic, we just want to remind our friends, clients and families to please be careful with the information that you share on your social networks.

According to AAA, over 46 million Americans will be traveling over this holiday season. Don’t make your home a target for break-ins by sharing details about your travel plans on your social networks, as your family and friends might not be the only ones watching. Avoid accepting friend requests and connections from people you don’t know, and make sure your privacy settings are set correctly for your security.

If you are leaving town, boost your home security by letting friends and neighbors know where you will be and ask them to keep an eye out on your house. Make arrangements for someone to pick up your mail while you are away or ask the post office to hold delivery for the time that you are expecting to be away. Prevent easy entry to your home by making sure all your doors are locked and your windows are secured. If you are traveling with your smartphone, make sure you disable “geotags” on the applications you use so that information about your real-time location doesn’t get shared publicly.

Holidays are special times to be with friends and family, and photos are a great way to record and preserve those memories of time together – but we suggest you wait until you get home to post those pictures!

Our Team at the Bieritz Agency wishes you all a Happy and Safe Holiday Season!

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Why Shop Around for Insurance?

A client-contributed article from Susan O’Handley

I have been working with the Bieritz Agency over the last few years as a consultant for website and marketing support services. On occasion, I would receive a gentle reminder from Steve to consider switching to Bieritz, or at the very least letting them provide a quote for us.  Although I had meant to do this (I believe in supporting local businesses and my clients whenever possible), insurance is one of those things that’s easy to push off to a later date, and when our policies came up for renewal, we just renewed them and forgot all about switching.

moneyUntil recently.  On the heels of another gentle reminder (never a high pressure push), I decided to just go ahead and send our current policies over for a comparable quote.  I am very glad I did!  To begin with, we ended up saving close to $250 on our auto insurance policy with the same coverage – so we are already ahead.

Information that came back to us on our homeowners policy came as a bit of a surprise.  After reviewing our policy, we learned that we were underinsured for the replacement value for our home and were also paying extra money for a low deductible option.  Beth Spence, the Bieritz Agency Manager,  provided us with several options, all of which gave us better coverage and terms for literally a few extra dollars.

When we purchased our home as first-time buyers over 10 years ago, we never gave the insurance a second thought.  I don’t recall shopping around for quotes at that time (closing on your first home is what I consider a whirlwind experience), and since it is tied into our mortgage payment, it was something that just automatically renewed each year – never really needing attention.  I assumed that the coverage was complete and that it continued to meet our needs.

Thankfully, we have never had a claim on either policy (knock on wood), but I am glad that we found out about our home policy now instead of being surprised in a time of need by having too little coverage.  I encourage friends and neighbors to review your insurance policies and send them over to Bieritz for review!  Even if you don’t wish to switch companies/brokers, take the time to review your policy with your family and agent. Like us, you might find yourself in for a surprise.

The Bieritz team lives up to their reputation of first-class customer service, with responsive and helpful interactions – they are indeed ‘Your Hometown Insurance Specialists’! Give them a call today and see if they can assist you with your policies.

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National Safety Month – Summer Safety

2014 GraphicJune is National Safety Month, so our team has decided to provide resources from the National Safety Council to help improve some general safety practices for all our friends and clients.

This week, we are featuring information and resources about summer safety.

Everyone enjoys a little bit of summer fun, but it’s always important to monitor the weather conditions in extreme heat—especially if you plan on being outside.

Read the Summer Safety Tip Sheet Here

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