Not every Prius is made alike.
Toyota wanted the focus to be on the brand name. So various iterations of the model are designated by generations. There’s no logo badging on exteriors of the car. There’s no “XL” or “LTE” at the end of the name.
So differentiating between a Prius II and Prius IV is difficult.
Unless you know what to look for.
In assessing total loss of my Prius-it was chop-shopped on the street overnight-my insurance company forwarded a report from CCC. This company, supposedly unbiased, takes an aggregate of sold cars comparable to the insured vehicle. The averaged price is what the insurance company offers to the insured.
Justin Petty, CEO of Petty Details, a company specializing in insurance claims services, says, “CCC is not an appraiser, they are a database, and they cannot testify as to the value of a vehicle.”
Often the different generations of the Prius come with unique features. For instance, the Prius II has a AM/FM/MP3 CD player with satellite radio antenna. The Prius III has a JBL AM/FM/MP3 6-disc CD changer with eight speakers, integrated XM satellite radio capability. That’s a big difference. And it’s a sure designator of what trim level aka Generation Prius one is.
In looking at a CCC report generated on the behalf of my insurance company, it was clear that they were looking at lesser generations than the vehicle I had.
Petty says, “If any appraiser does not take into account the exact model of a vehicle, then if they use an older version, it is almost always detrimental to the vehicle owner of a newer edition. Bugs that may have existed in older generations are fixed in the newer ones and consumers trust the most recent model much better than previous models, especially on hybrids which are still not commonplace and which are more expensive to repair.”
In Case of Loss
So what should owners do if Prius owners realize their insurance company is using incomparable vehicles?
Petty advises, “Almost all policies contain an appraisal clause… So in the instance that you are filing on your own policy, the appraisal clause is generally the way to go. Unfortunately, it is very hard to find a competent appraiser. It simply takes a lot of research and normally, an attorney is a good place to call looking for referrals. When looking for an appraiser, my suggestion is to get them on the phone or try and correspond with them directly. If they are hard to reach or don’t seem helpful, move on. A typical appraisal clause negotiation should cost no more than $500.00, and many appraisers will do it for much less. The appraisal clause is a formal process and your appraiser should handle the whole negotiation for you, including the paperwork.”
Petty Details has worked for clients across the United States, and their website posts blogs and advice columns on dealing with total loss claims.