The most important part of the appraisal is grading the condition of the car. This is usually done by assigning a numerical grade to the car after it has been thoroughly inspected.
Since condition is the most important factor in determining the value of a car, be sure that you choose your appraiser carefully. Get to know your appraiser, his background, reputation and experience level and communicate the reason you are having the vehicle appraised.
A valid appraisal should be completed in person. Finding a value is not as simple as picking up one of many price guides that are available. In order to provide an accurate picture of the car’s value, a great deal of analysis is required, utilizing numerous sources. A detailed analysis of the car is required to determine the value of any car. A responsible appraiser will use numerous sources to grade the vehicle and determine the value and then will provide the owner with a written appraisal, complete with photos.
If you have had an appraisal done using photos in place of actually inspecting the car, the appraisal might be useful to appease your curiosity, but it most likely would never stand up in any court proceeding, as the car was never actually inspected by the person appraising it.
A proper appraisal will not only provide the value of the vehicle, but will “memorialize,” or create a “snapshot in time” of the value and the condition of the vehicle at the time of the appraisal. In the case of a total loss, this can be invaluable in proving the condition of the car prior to the loss.