If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you might be informed by your car insurance company that your vehicle is what is known as a “write-off”. Nobody wants to be in a situation where their car is termed as a write-off, but many do not realise that there are different write-off categories. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about car insurance write-offs.
What Is A Car Insurance Write-Off?
An insurance write-off is industry jargon for a car that has either sustained so much damage it’s unsafe to go back on the road, or it is still safe to drive but is beyond economical repair.
What Are The Car Insurance Write-Off Categories?
Car insurance assessors use various categories of car insurance write-off to rank the seriousness of accident damage.
The government uses six category levels to define a write-off:
This tier is for vehicles that have received structural bodywork damage, but that can be repaired and put back on the road. This could include a bent or twisted chassis or a crumple zone that has collapsed in a crash.
Although a Category S write-off is the least severe category, the vehicle will be deemed more than just cosmetic and is therefore unsafe for use until it has been professionally repaired.
Category N is used to describe vehicles that have sustained non-structural damage that the insurer has deemed not worth repairing.
Though the damage may be less visibly severe than a Category S write-off, don’t assume such vehicles are drivable.
Non-structural faults may include brakes, steering or other safety-related parts, so it will still usually need rectifying before the vehicle goes back on the road.
Category C vehicles can be repaired, but it would cost more than the vehicle is worth to do so. If the vehicle is repaired to a roadworthy condition, you will be able to use it again.
Category D vehicles can be repaired at a cost of less than the vehicle is worth. However, other costs such as transporting the vehicle would then increase the cost to more than the vehicle's value. As with category C vehicles, you can drive it again if it's repaired to a roadworthy state.
Category B is used for cars that have received extensive damage - be it structural, mechanical or electrical. A category B should never reappear on road, although reclaimed parts can be used in other road-going vehicles.
Only Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATFs) are permitted to handle Category B vehicles, and they will only sell them to businesses that have a certification to prove they are allowed to store and destroy such vehicles.
Reserved for the most severely damaged vehicles, a Category A write-off condemns an entire vehicle to the scrapyard and means that even salvageable parts must be destroyed.
High-speed impacts, complete burnouts and extensive vandalism will usually result in a vehicle receiving a Category A designation.
What Happens When Your Car is Written Off?
When an insurer is notified that a vehicle has been damaged, it will assess the damage to determine whether it should be written off, and to what extent. From this point, the insurer offers the car owner an agreed market value for the damaged car and takes legal possession of it. If the owner wishes to keep the vehicle, they can refuse the offer and keep the car.
In all cases, the DVLA must be notified of the write-off and will need to assess any repairs made to more seriously damaged vehicles.
For up to date information on what to do if you experience an insurance write-off, visit GOV.UK.
Can a Written Off Car Be Insured?
Insurers are often wary of write-offs, because they’re taking a risk on any non-factory-standard repairs that might have been made, and so premiums are often higher.
An insurance company can insist that an independent engineer inspects the vehicle before it agrees to provide cover. But sometimes an MOT certificate is ample proof of roadworthiness.
Here at Be Wiser we know the best thing for our customers is to quote wiser – that means giving you an insurance quote completely tailored to your needs.
All our clients enjoy free breakdown cover, free claim assistance and free legal expenses cover. Finding the right car insurance for you is something that we can help you with. Start your search for the perfect policy with us by getting a quote.