18 February 2015

A Look Inside: The Hagerty Valuation Tool

Putting a value on a classic car is a very difficult proposition. Not only is every car different, with variations in originality, condition, history and provenance, but buying a classic is a very emotional experience. All this means that predicting values can be more of an art than a science. That said, Hagerty invests a huge amount of effort making sure our Valuation Tool is as accurate as possible.

The foundation of that accuracy is a combination of two factors: wide-ranging data sources and keeping a human element in the process. Hagerty’s Valuation Tool draws not just from auction data (as do many other valuation guides) but also uses our network of industry contacts to provide dealer prices, private sales figures, and our own agreed insurance valuations. We also link up with car clubs to check that our figures represent the most up to date real-world values.

The human element is also critical. Every single model on our list- over 1300 are currently covered in the UK tool alone- is individually researched, not by a computer programme, but by a human analyst. In this way, we are able to add weighting to values and adjust our figures accordingly. For example, now and again a sale value will be outside what we would expect- usually as the result of two committed bidders competing at auction. By judging this price against other sale figures, we can show this as a potential anomaly rather than as a trend.

Secondly, we try to get as many cars as possible inspected by one of our staff in person. With dedicated valuation departments in the UK, US, Canada and Germany, we have representatives at virtually every major classic car event and auction, worldwide. Cars are ranked on a detailed decimal scale, from 1 (the best car in the world) to 5 (the worst). A sliding scale allows for a more accurate analysis: so a 1.1 may be as good as the #1 but lack some of the history. At the other end of the scale a 4.5 may be just a chassis and wheels. For the processes of the guide, we just monitor cars that fall into the 1-4 range, and generally not restoration cases.

Analysing all of this data and presenting it in a manageable format is a big task. The first issue is to minimise errors by cross-checking the data. The heads of all Hagerty’s international departments speak monthly to compare their analysis of the ‘global’ cars- the ones whose value varies little across international borders. Then the data is checked by Brian Rabold, who heads Hagerty’s global valuation team. Finally, the data is uploaded to the Hagerty servers and made public. This update happens roughly quarterly, with release dates being published at the start of every year.

So where does Hagerty’s UK Valuation Tool go from here? Angus Forsyth, MD of Hagerty International says there are big plans for expansion. “We aim to significantly increase the number of models covered,”  he states. “We also want to include many of the facilities our US site offers, such as tracking particular cars over time.”

“The Valuation Tool is also the basis of our new ‘Guaranteed Value’, a concept unique to classic insurers in the UK. Using the Tool, we will guarantee the value of your car, rather than working from an agreed value based on photographs or an external valuation. This saves our clients time and money, and provides total reassurance should the worst happen.  If we see the value of their car change, we can also alert them, ensuring they are always fully covered.”

The Q1 2015 UK Valuation Tool update is published on 12 February 2015, and is free to use. Data can be used for publication- please contact the Editor at uknews@hagerty.com for more information.

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