A simples guide

What happens if my car is written off?

The aftermath of an accident can sometimes be just as stressful as the accident itself. And if your insurance provider tells you that your car’s a ‘write off’ you might not believe your ears - especially if your car looks and runs fine. But you might be surprised to know that a write off doesn’t always have to look like it’s been through a crusher. Panic not, you still have options.

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What is a write off?

Your insurance provider will consider your car a write off if it’s beyond repair or would cost more than the value of the car itself to fix – and it doesn’t have to be all twisted metal and smashed glass for it to be written off. Even what you’d consider minor damage such as a scrape along the side could mean a one-way ticket to the scrap heap if repairs are likely to cost more than the car’s value.

If your insurance provider thinks your car’s a write off, it’ll fall into one of four categories, the category that it’s in will determine what you can do about it:

  • Category A: your car cannot be repaired and is fit for nothing but scrapping and the vehicle will be crushed.
  • Category B: your car cannot be repaired and its bodyshell will be crushed but parts can be salvaged.
  • Category C: repairs are possible but fixing it will cost more than the car’s value.
  • Category D: repairs are possible and the cost of repairs won’t exceed the car’s value but other costs (such as for transporting it to a garage) will tip it over the edge and mean it’s not worth repairing.

As you can imagine, cars in categories A and B should never set wheels on a road again but those in categories C and D are written off for financial reasons and if repaired to a road worthy standard, can be driven again.

What are my rights if my car’s written off?

You can of course challenge your insurance provider if you think their estimation of your car’s value is too low and therefore the decision to write it off isn’t appropriate. Bear in mind your insurance provider will have taken factors such as the condition of your car pre accident, mileage, age and depreciation into account when finalising a value.

When your car’s written off, it’s retained by the insurance provider – your payout is compensation for this. But if your car falls into categories C or D then you have the option of buying back your car and fixing it yourself. It’s worth noting that these cars may be more difficult and more expensive to insure and you may only get a certain percentage of the total market value if your car is not written off.

car accident

How can I challenge my insurance provider over writing off my car?

If you still think their valuation is low, then you’ll need to show evidence that backs up your belief. You could check reputable second hand car price guides or look at adverts for cars of the same model, age and condition as yours. If you’ve modified your car and think this adds to its value, then you should also show proof of this work – such as receipts.

If you were really keen to get your point across, consider hiring an independent engineer who will compile a report that you can show your insurer. Although, you’d should consider whether the cost of an engineer is worth the expense. If you’re still unhappy with the response from your insurance provider, you can ask for help from the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Insurance is your safety net

Some insurance providers offer ‘guaranteed value’ policies where you’ve agreed and fixed the value of your vehicle – something that might be for you if you’ve got a classic or heavily modified car.

Nobody wants to hear that their car’s a write off, but having insurance means that you’ll at least get your car’s value if it is – which is why it’s important to use our comparison service and find the right policy for you.

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