Replacement cost is the price that an entity would pay to replace an existing asset at current market prices with a similar asset. If the asset in question has been damaged, then the replacement cost relates to the pre-damaged condition of the asset. The replacement cost of an asset may vary from the market value of that specific asset, since the asset that would actually replace it may have a different cost; the replacement asset only has to perform the same functions as the original asset - it does not have to be an exact copy of the original asset.
Replacement cost is a common term used in insurance policies to cover damage to a company's assets. The definition is critical, since the insurer is committing to pay the insured entity for the replacement cost of covered assets, if those assets are damaged or destroyed.
Replacement cost can be used to estimate the amount of funding that might be required to duplicate another business. This concept can be used to establish one of several possible price points that can be used in the formulation of a proposed price to pay the shareholders of a target company as part of an acquisition.
Replacement cost is also known as replacement value.