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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, you're probably wondering what to do. We’ll help you understand write-off categories A, B, S and N (previously C and D), and how to insure a written-off car.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
posted 16 JANUARY 2020

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 in compensation. But if your car falls into what was known as Category C or Category D (now replaced with Category S and Category N respectively) then you have the option of buying it back and fixing it yourself.

You can also buy and sell second-hand cars in these categories. But it’s worth noting these cars may be more difficult and more expensive to insure in the future. Category C and Cat D car insurance can be more expensive and difficult to get than insurance for a standard car, and some providers won’t offer it at all.

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.

Car write-off categories

If your insurance provider thinks your car’s a write-off, it will fall into a write-off category. Some of these have been updated as per the Vehicle Salvage Code that came into effect in 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 in this category are also considered too damaged or old to be repaired. However, as long as they are removed by an expert, some parts may be re-used or sold second-hand, although a Category B write-off can’t be sold second-hand.
  • Category C: Although a Category C insurance write-off can be repaired, it’s too expensive for an insurance provider to do so. Category C was replaced by Category S in October 2017. However, cars that were categorised as Cat C before 1 October 2017 stay as Cat C.
  • Category S (Structurally Damaged Repairable): These cars can 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 D: A cat D insurance write-off has suffered light damage, but repairing it is still too expensive. If this is the case with your car, you can pay to have it repaired yourself. Cat D was replaced with Category N in October 2017. However, cars that were categorised as Cat D before 1 October 2017 stay as Cat D.
  • 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 taking to the road again, but you’ll need to notify them that your car was written off.

How much will I get for my written-off car?

Unless you have new for old car insurance, you’ll get the current market value of your car, not what you paid for it. You can dispute the value with your insurance provider if you’re not happy with what they offer.

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 (C and D), 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.

Should I buy a cat C or D car?

Repaired cat C and cat D insurance write-offs can be found for sale second-hand and can be good bargains. However, you might want to get the car professionally checked out before you buy it. Also bear in mind that some providers won’t offer Category C or Category D car insurance.

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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