What are the different types of insurance write offs?

A 4x4 driving up a dirt road

On occasions where a car is involved in an accident and it is deemed to be beyond repair or the cost of repairs would total more than the value of the car, your insurance company may deem the car to be a “write off” or a “total loss.” In these circumstances your insurer will pay you a settlement fee of the value of your car before the damages. However there are several categories to a write off and some of these cars despite being written off find their way back onto the road again. 

Do ensure that you are honest with your potential insurance company about the history of the car. If you do not declare that it has previously been written off and at a later date you need to make an insurance claim you could find that your insurance will be void as you were not upfront about the vehicle’s history. 

What are the different types of categories? 

Changes to these categories were made in October 2017.

  • Category A – .The vehicle cannot be repaired. It will need to be crushed. 
  • Category B – The vehicle cannot be repaired. The shell must be crushed although certain parts can be salvaged. 
  • Category C – The vehicle can be repaired but the cost of the repairs will be more than the value of the car. If the car can be repaired to a roadworthy condition it can be driven again. This would be up to the owner to pay for the repair costs and not the insurance company.  
  • Category D – The vehicle can be repaired for less than the value of the car but with other costs factored in such as transportation, it would take the overall cost over the value of the car. As with Category C, if the car can be repaired to a roadworthy condition at the owner’s expense, it can be driven again. 
  • Category N – Vehicle can be repaired following non structural damage. This category replaced Category C in October 2017.
  • Category S – The vehicle can be repaired following structural damage. This category replaced Category D in October 2017. 

How is a car written off?

After an accident your insurance company will appoint an assessor to come and inspect the damage to your vehicle. They will decide how extensive the damage is and whether or not it can be repaired to a roadworthy standard and if this is a financially sound option. 

How do cars that are a total loss make it back into the used car market?

With category C, D, N & S write offs, if the owner is prepared to pay for the damages to be repaired then they are legally entitled to get the car back to a roadworthy condition and then sell the car. Even though categories N & S have replaced categories C & D, as this has only been in effect for three years there will still be some cars from categories C & D in the market.

Should I buy a car that has been classed as a total loss?

A big question posed by a potential buyer is should they buy a car that has been previously written off?

If you see a car for sale that is Category A or B then these cars should have been scrapped so it is best to steer clear of these. However with the remaining categories, they have to be in a roadworthy condition and have passed an MOT so technically it should be safe to buy.

Although it is worth noting that some insurers will not insure a car that has previously been written off or they may charge a higher amount for cover so you may need to shop around to find the best deal.

Do ensure that you are honest with your potential insurance company about the history of the car. If you do not declare that it has previously been written off and at a later date you need to make an insurance claim you could find that your insurance will be void as you were not upfront about the vehicle’s history. 

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