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Car Insurance Write-Offs Explained

13 Jan 2021

In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of car insurance write-offs and whether you can buy or insure a car that’s already been written off.

Car insurance write-offs can be a nightmare, and the last thing any driver wants to hear is that their car cannot be repaired after a bust up and it, therefore, has to be written off. In fact, car insurance write-offs can occur even if the damage to the vehicle doesn’t actually affect the way the car performance. 

 
A top tip to know is that if the repair cost for your car is more than half what your car is worth, then it will most likely be written off, so you should bear this in mind. However, car insurance write-offs come in a number of different categories, meaning your car might not exactly be taken off the roads. 
 
In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of car insurance write-offs, what they entail and whether you can buy or insure a car that’s already been written off.

Different Types Of Car Insurance Write-Offs

Car insurance write-offs come in four main categories which are important to be aware of if you are a driver. Some of the names also changed back in October 2017, so you might not be fully aware of the new system. So, take a read below as we explain each write-off stage.

Category S

Known as Category C before October 2017, the lowest car insurance write-off stage is for those vehicles that have received only structural bodywork damage. An example of a Category S write-off could be a crease to your door frame. 
 
This type of damage means that your car may in fact be able to be repaired and used again in no time. However, even though the damage might seem minimal, your car might not be deemed safe to drive again until the damage has been repaired.

Category N

Category N is the car insurance write-off stage that replaced category D in 2017. This write-off stage is one step beyond category S, in which it means that your car has received non-structural damage which has been deemed as not worth repairing. Category N might seem less severe than Category S as it might not be as visible, however, it could include damage to the electronics, brakes or suspension which will affect the performance of the car. Therefore, it will also need to be repaired before you use it on the roads again.
 
Luckily, as car damage that is part of Category N isn’t usually too expensive to repair, so your car will most likely not be written off as repairs won’t cost any more than half the car value.

Category B

Category B is the third category in the car insurance write-off system and is the first that will most likely see your car being written off. This category is for cars that have received severe damage to either or all its structural, mechanical and electrical structure. Therefore, the damage will cause it to be unsafe to use on the roads anymore. For example, your car has a crushed shell.
 
Even though your car must be crushed to be written-off completely, it doesn’t mean that its parts can’t be reused in other cars. However, the only places allowed to handle vehicles in category B are Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATF) and they must ensure they only sell the category B vehicles to places that are authorised to either store or destroy them.

Category A

The final and most severe car insurance write-off stage is category A which is for the most damaged vehicles. A category A car insurance write-off means that the entire car must be disposed of into a dump and not even its parts can be reused. An example of a category A car insurance write-off is a car that is completely burnt out or vandalised.

What Happens During A Car Insurance Write Off?

The first step during a car insurance write-off is for the insurer to assess the damage of the vehicle and state whether it comes under a category, S, N, B or A write-off. If the car is deemed as either category S or N and can be resold after it’s been fixed, your insurer will give you a quote for the market value and keep the car until it’s sold. Or, if you choose to keep the car after its damage has been repaired, you can refuse this offer and continue to use it. 
 
Choosing to keep a category S car does involve one more step. By law, you must first be assessed by the DVLA before it can be officially safe to drive again. However, a category N car does not need to be assessed by the DVLA but it must still be notified to them, just like all car insurance write-offs.
 
On the other hand, a category B or A write-off means your insurer will take possession of the car until it’s disposed of as it will be completely written off.

Can I Buy A Car That’s Been Written Off?

As for buying a written-off vehicle, it’s clear that this is not possible for any category A cars as all will be scrapped immediately. You might not be able to buy a category B write-off but its parts will be available as long as its entire shell is scrapped.
 
When it comes to buying a category S or N vehicle, this is possible but it’s important that you thoroughly check the repair standards before buying the car and ensure you understand how the damage to the car occurred in the first place. Investing in a vehicle history check might come at an extra cost, but a repaired written-off vehicle could come with an intriguing discount.

Can you Insure A Written Off Car?

The answer to this question is yes, but you will be looking at a much higher premium. This is because insurers don’t like to risk insuring a car that may include non-factory-standard repairs. Therefore, unless the car already has an updated MOT certificate, the safest option for an insurer is to ask the experts which might include getting an engineer to assess the vehicle before the cover is provided.
 
Your car insurer won’t necessarily check for the vehicle’s history check, but they are more likely to check MOT records in case damage to the vehicle was in fact caused by a repair failure.

Lease A New Car At Cars2Buy Today

Was your most-recent vehicle written-off and you are now looking for a new option? Then take a look at our range of new/old cars and vans which are all available for leasing or purchasing at Cars2Buy. Click here to view our personal car leasing deals or for more information, don’t hesitate to contact our team here.