a person holding a pen and clipboard

How do Insurance Companies Value Your Car in the UK?

December 14, 2023

No matter how great a condition your car is in, understanding how insurance companies value your car is incredibly important, whether you’re negotiating your current policy or trying to set up new cover with a brand new insurer. Generally speaking, the valuation of your car is going to form the basis both for claim settlements and premium calculations, so as a driver it’s key to understand how the value of your vehicle is determined. Let’s take a look at some of the key factors that influence valuation, and some tactics used by insurance companies when taking on new customers. Let’s dive in!

The Importance of Car Valuation in Insurance

It’s imperative to understand that car valuation in insurance isn’t merely about numbers; it's actually an influential factor that determines how much coverage you get, as well as how much compensation you can expect in the event of an accident or theft. Accurate valuation ensures fair treatment and efficient accident management in the insurance process, so it’s worth taking the time to understand your own car’s valuation before taking out a policy.

Factors Influencing Car Valuation

Age and Make of the Vehicle

Unsurprisingly, the age and make of your car significantly influence its valuation; generally, newer vehicles and those from reputed manufacturers tend to have higher valuations due to their market demand and replacement costs, while older vehicles - which may not be as high-performing tend to fetch lower valuations.

Vehicle Model and Trim Level

Model and trim level is also taken into consideration, and different models and trim levels within the same make can have varying valuations; higher-end models with more features or superior trim levels usually attract higher valuations.

Mileage and Usage

Another unsurprising factor in valuation is mileage and usage: a vehicle with lower mileage typically has a higher valuation than one with high mileage, as less usage often indicates less wear and tear. The type of usage (personal, commercial, etc.) also plays a role in determining the car’s value.

Market Conditions

The current market conditions - including supply and demand for a particular make or model - can also affect a car's valuation; this is also compounded by economic factors and industry trends, which are additionally considered to help determine the current market value.

Vehicle Condition and History

Finally, the overall condition of your vehicle, including any damage, repairs, and maintenance history, influences its value. A well-maintained car with a clean history usually garners a higher valuation, whereas a car that has been involved in accidents will almost always fetch a lower price.

Methods Used by Insurance Companies

car odometer showing the mileage

Market Value

This is the most common method where the car's value is determined based on its current market price, considering factors like age, make, model, and condition.

Agreed Value

Used primarily for classic or modified cars, this agreed value is typically a predetermined amount agreed upon by the insurer and the policyholder at the time of policy purchase.

Trade-in Value

Trade-in value reflects the amount you might expect to receive from a dealer if you were to trade in your car, and it’s usually lower than the market value.

Retail Value

The retail value is the price at which the dealer would sell the car, and this is often used as a benchmark for market value.

Specialist Valuations

For unique or modified vehicles, specialist valuations may be required to accurately assess their worth.

How to Get the Best Valuation

To ensure you get the best possible valuation, here are some key tips and tricks:

  • Maintain your vehicle well, including regular servicing and repairs.
  • Keep a detailed record of all maintenance and repair work.
  • Understand your car's market value by researching similar models and makes.
  • Be honest and accurate about your car’s condition and history when applying for insurance - it’s always best to be realistic.

Challenges and Controversies

Valuation disputes can arise, especially post-accident, and disagreements over the value of a car can lead to challenges in claim settlements. If you already understand how valuations are determined, this can help in the possible event where you need to negotiate with your insurance company and ensure that you receive fair compensation after any accident or write-off.

Similarly, you can also dispute the insurance company’s valuation of your car if you find it to be unfair or unrepresentative of your vehicle’s current condition; you can either do this by taking the legal route or using the UK’s Financial Ombudsman Service.


Does adding modifications to my car affect its insurance value?

Yes, modifications can affect your car's insurance value, so always inform your insurance company about any modifications. Modifications can either increase or decrease the value, depending on the nature of the changes.

How often do insurance companies revalue cars?

Generally speaking, insurance companies tend to revalue cars at each policy renewal. However, significant changes to the vehicle or market conditions can prompt a revaluation.