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common complaints showing our approach



I've seen adverts for vehicles like mine selling for more than the insurer paid me ...

Some people tell us they don’t think the insurer has paid them a fair price - because they’ve seen similar vehicles advertised for a higher price.

  • In general, we don’t think adverts are necessarily a reliable guide to a vehicle’s price. That’s because vehicles can be advertised at a higher price than they eventually sell for - and small differences in condition can have a big impact on the value. So it’s unlikely we’ll place much weight on adverts when we’re deciding whether an insurer’s valuation is reasonable. But we may do if the adverts strongly suggest the guides could be wrong or the car’s a classic or rare model.
  • To decide whether an insurer’s valuation is fair, we’ll check the selling price of similar vehicles in specialist on-line motor trade guides called Parkers (if the complaint is close to the date of the loss or damage), Glass’s, CAP and Cazana. These bring together thousands of auction prices (as a base to decide the likely selling price) and adverts of similar vehicles - taking into account variations like age, mileage, condition, and regional or seasonal differences.
  • If the amount the insurer paid is in line with the guides, it’s likely we’ll say the valuation is fair. But if we think the insurer hasn’t made a fair valuation, we’ll tell them to adjust it - using the guide prices.
  • If one of the guide prices is significantly higher or lower, we may think it’s reasonable to ignore it. What’s significant will depend on the price of the vehicle - for example, a difference of £200 would be significant for a £1,000 car, but not a £9,000 car.
  • It’s important to check that the vehicle’s details have been recorded correctly. We see complaints where insurers and their customers have made mistakes - meaning the prices they’re disputing are wrong in the first place.


my insurer's saying my car wasn't in good condition - and they won't pay me a fair price ...

The market value of a car will be affected if it’s not in good condition. We sometimes hear from people who’ve been told by their insurer that their car wasn’t in good condition - meaning they’ve been offered less money than they expected.

  • In some cases we see, the insurer has relied on an engineer’s report to decide on the condition of the car. These reports can be very helpful. But we’re unlikely to think it’s fair to reduce a car’s price if the engineer hasn’t given specific reasons, or if they’ve taken off an amount for wear and tear that would be expected in a car of that age.
  • Once we’ve reached a decision about the condition of the car, we’ll use motor trade guides to get a good idea of the value of similar cars in the same condition - and decide if the insurer’s valuation is fair.

case study 1

Mrs B’s car was stolen and not recovered. The insurer’s engineer said the car would have been in “average” condition, because it had been in two previous accidents. He valued it at £23,000, following the trade guides. Mrs B was unhappy with the offer.

We said it wasn’t fair for the business to treat the car’s condition as “average” because of the accidents - since there was no reason to say the car hadn’t been properly repaired.

As the car hadn’t been recovered to check the condition, we said the insurer should have been valued in “good” condition. We told them to pay £30,000 - in line with prices in the trade guides.

case study 2

After Mr Y’s car was written off, the insurer’s engineer said it was in very poor condition. The engineer also deducted £1,000 from the value, saying that was what it would cost to repair pre-existing damage.

We decided this was unfair. The car was in “poor” condition because of the damage - so taking more money off the value was effectively deducting twice for the same problem.

We told the insurer to value the car in “good” condition - deducting a reasonable cost for repairs from that valuation.



my insurer scrapped my car without telling me ...

Some people complain they didn’t know their insurer would scrap their car after it was written off. Some people say they wanted to keep the written-off car - or the “salvage”. Others are unhappy because they’ve lost possessions that were inside the car.

  • When a car is written off, the insurer owns the salvage once the owner has accepted payment for the full market value of the car. We don’t think it’s fair to scrap a car without any warning. So we’ll check whether the owner agreed to accept payment - and whether they told the insurer they wanted to keep the salvage.
  • If an insurer scrapped a car without the owner’s consent, we’ll look at the impact on the owner. We might tell the insurer to compensate the owner for any upset or inconvenience they’ve experienced as a result of losing the car - as well as for any items that were inside the car when it was scrapped.
  • In some cases, the insurer has returned the salvage - but the owner is unhappy with the money they’ve received for the car. In general, we think it’s fair for an insurer to deduct the amount they would have made from selling the scrapped car from full market value they pay to the owner.

case study 3

Mr J’s 1967 Chevrolet was involved in a crash. The car was written off, and he accepted the business’ offer of £20,000. The next day, the insurer sold the car to a salvage agent.

Two months later, Mr J asked for the car back, saying it had great sentimental value to him. The insurer couldn’t get the car back, but offered £250 for his distress - and they acknowledged that they’d sold the car on very quickly.

The insurer hadn’t asked Mr J what he wanted them to with the car. But Mr J had waited a long time to ask for the car back, despite saying it was valuable to him. So we said the insurer’s offer was fair.



my car was modified - but my insurer hasn't taken that into account in their offer ...

Some people complain that, because they modified their car, it’s worth more than the amount the insurer’s offering them.

  • In some cases, we find someone’s modified their car to keep it roadworthy - for example, by adding a new engine. But this is unlikely to change the value of the car compared with the prices in the motor trade guides.
  • Some owners tell us about small modifications - like satnavs - that they think make their car worth more than the insurer’s offer. But from experience, we know these small additions are unlikely to add much value.
  • We also hear from people who’ve made modifications like adding spoilers or racing exhausts. We usually explain that while these might increase the car’s appeal to some buyers, they could put other people off. So on balance, the overall market value might not be any higher.
  • We’ll take into account any modifications that have been made to a car when deciding if the insurer’s offer is fair. If we decide it isn’t fair - and the insurer knew the car had been modified when they sold the policy - we’ll tell them to adjust it accordingly.

case study 4

Mr K’s truck, which he used for work, was written off. He complained that the insurer’s offer hadn’t taken into account the special exhaust system he’d installed - which was needed to drive the truck where he worked in a city.

From the trade guides, we saw that this modification affected the value of the vehicle - and the insurer’s offer didn’t reflect its true market value. We told the insurer to adjust their offer, and to pay compensation for the loss of use of the vehicle Mr K had needed for work.

need help?

If you can’t find what you’re looking for here - or you’d like to talk to someone - give us a call ...

consumer helpline - 0800 023 4567
our technical advice desk (for businesses and consumer advisers) - 020 7964 1400

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