Under California law, the actual value of a car is the amount that the car was worth at the time that it was damaged or destroyed. The amount of the car value is known as it's fair market value.

Unless the car is brand new or a collector's item, this value is usually less than the replacement value -- that is, what it would cost to repair damages to the vehicle with materials of similar kind and quality.

You can find the actual value of your car by going to a library or bookstore and referring to a Kelley Blue Book. Or, you can find similar vehicles that are being sold in your area (within 50 miles of your zip code) with local auto trade magazines, or online.  You can also find the value online at the Kelley website at www.kbb.com.