"Actual Cash Value" is a phrase found in insurance policies, and generally means the value of a thing, in its current condition -- that is, the current market value between ready, willing and able buyers and sellers. For insurance claims, an adjuster estimates ACV just before the loss occurred, as if the loss had not happened. This value is its "used" value, as opposed to its current, new, replacement cost.
The Actual Cash Value ("ACV") is important because most insurance policies require settlement of the claim at ACV, though a policy may also provide for a replacement cost benefit for some or all of the damages, as part of a residential or commercial property claim, a claim from an automobile wreck, or from a contents claim after a hurricane, fire or flood.
The original claims adjuster will estimate the actual cash value for each individual thing damaged by the loss, and will use one of several ways to come up with a value. Most commonly, the adjuster will determine the current replacement cost, and subtract "depreciation" based on the thing's condition, age, and lifetime. Read more about depreciation, and see an example of how depreciation, replacement cost and ACV are estimated
While estimating ACV makes sense where there is a commonly accepted market, for example, a used car, it makes less sense for each individual part of a house damaged by fire or flood -- for example, paint on the walls, or vinyl flooring. Even so, because the policy requires it, the estimate you get will address ACV for each line item in the estimate.
Commonly, claims adjusters estimate ACV with estimates for replacement cost and depreciation. See an example of this method, here: "An example of estimating and calculating depreciation and "actual cash value" in an insurance claim".
Other methods include:
Estimating software commonly used by adjusters rely on research into local market conditions, and the software will provide reasonable estimates of replacement cost values (if properly updated and researched by the software company and the adjuster). This research should address market conditions based on the location of the loss.
For more information on how to prepare for an insurance claim, or assistance in the adjustment of insurance claims, please contact John Ruskin at the address or phone number, below.