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What is Actual Cash Value?

What is Actual Cash Value and How is it Important for Insurance

Read about what actual cash value is and how it's different from replacement cost.
Charlie S
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2019
Paper man chain of family
These days, most of us ensure proper insurance policy for almost all items we buy. From a smartphone to a car, or a home, everything needs to be insured. The knowledge of concepts such as actual cash value is necessary for all those who wish to buy a new insurance plan.
Actual Cash Value Defined
Actual cash value computation is done by considering the price of an item, when it was new, and then deducting depreciation from it. The insurance company pays this amount to the customer who has had insurance and has claimed for the same.
The depreciation is decided by the insurance company, by being just, and considering some fundamental factors that affect its value over time. More the number of years of purchase of the commodity, lesser would be the amount of money the customer might get from the insurance company. This concept can be grasped well by considering a simple example.
Cars And Money
Let us assume that a customer buys a bike and has an auto insurance policy. If he crashes the bike immediately after the purchase, then the actual cost will not be too less than the cost of the bike at the time of the purchase, because of the minimum depreciation quotient.
However, if the same bike is crashed after, say, six years from the purchase date, then the actual cash value received by the customer would be much less, compared to the earlier case.
Now is the time to know why many people prefer these policies. The answer is that they are cheap and affordable for most buyers. Actual cash value is the fair amount, received by asset owners to make up for the loss suffered by them. In absence of insurance companies offering such facilities, losses made by people on their valuable assets would be huge.
Actual cash value = Replacement cost - Depreciation

Apart from actual cost value, there is another way of valuing insurance payment, known as replacement cost. In the replacement cost technique, there is no depreciation of any kind. So, as the name suggests, it is the amount of money spent to replace the damaged or lost product of the customer.
Protective Hands
Many financial experts, mostly from insurance sector, believe that the total cost of the policy is substantially increased due to replacement costs. The difference between actual cash value and replacement cost is clear and easy to understand from the given content.