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What happens if my car is written off

What happens if my car is written off

If you’ve been involved in an accident and your insurance provider informs you that your car is a write-off, there’s no doubt that you’re feeling pretty stressed about the situation. This is our guide to everything you need to know going forward. 

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
posted 29 OCTOBER 2019

What happens if my car is written off

When your car’s written off, it’s retained by your insurance provider – you get a pay-out that is compensation for this. But if your car falls into categories S or N, then you do have the option of buying it back and fixing it yourself. It’s worth noting that these cars may be more difficult and more expensive to insure in the future.

What does it mean when your car’s a write-off?

After an accident, your car is considered a write-off if it’s beyond repair or would cost more to fix than the value of the car itself. Even if the car looks okay on the outside or has what you might consider to be minor damage (such as a scrape along the side), it could mean it’s heading to the scrap heap if any repairs are likely to cost more than the car’s value.

If your insurance provider thinks your car’s a write-off, it will fall into one of four categories, some of which have been updated as per the new Vehicle Salvage Code that came into effect as of October 2017:

  • Category A (Scrap): If placed into this category, it means that your vehicle is too damaged or old for repair. It also means that the car parts themselves are useless and can’t be sold second-hand  
  • Category B (Break): Cars placed into this category are also considered too damaged or old to be repaired. However, as long as they’re removed by an expert, some parts may be re-used or sold second-hand.  
  • Category S (Structurally Damaged Repairable): These cars are able to be repaired and only have damage to the structure of the chassis. All Cat S cars will need to be re-registered with the DVLA before being put back on the road
  • Category N (Non-Structurally Damaged Repairable): As with Category S, Category N vehicles can also be repaired. These vehicles have only been damaged superficially and the structural integrity of the vehicle remains intact. There’s no need to re-register Category N cars with the DVLA before hitting the road again, but you will need to notify them that your car has been written off.

What happens if I still owe money on my vehicle when it’s written off?

You need to contact your finance provider as soon as possible to discuss the matter. As mentioned, if your car falls into category S or N, you have the option to buy the car back and fix it using your own money (just remember that it’ll almost certainly cost more to repair than it’s worth).

It may be possible to use the money you get from your insurance provider to buy another car and keep paying off your finance, but this would need to be negotiated with your finance provider.

Insurance is your safety net

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

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