A simples guide

What happens if my car is written off?

If you’ve had an accident and your insurance provider informs you that your car is a write off, here’s what that could mean for you – under the current legislation and after the new salvage code comes into effect in October 2017.

What is a write off?

Under the current salvage code, your insurance provider will consider your car a write off if it’s beyond repair or would cost more to fix than the value of the car itself. Even what you might consider minor damage, such as a scrape along the side, could mean it’s heading 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 will fall into one of four categories, which will determine what you can do about it. At the moment, these four categories are:

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

Cars in categories A and B should never appear on the 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. However, as of October 2017, these categories are changing.

What are the new categories for write-off cars?

A new salvage code will come into force on 1 October 2017, with the aim of keeping dangerously damaged vehicles off the road. The biggest change is that this new code focuses on the condition of the car, rather than how much insurance providers would have to pay to repair it. The write-off categories of A, B, C and D will be replaced by A, B, S and N.

  • A – Scrap: Not suitable to be repaired. Must be crushed without any parts being removed
  • B – Break: Not suitable to be repaired. Usable parts can be recycled.
  • S – Structural repairable: A repairable vehicle that has sustained damage to any part of the structural frame or chassis and the insurer/self-insured owner has decided not to repair the vehicle.
  • N – Non-structural repairable: A repairable vehicle that has not sustained damage to the structural frame or chassis and the insurer/self-insured owner has decided not to the repair the vehicle.
What happens if my car is a write-off?

Cars that fall under category A or B cannot be repaired. Cars in categories S and N can be repaired and driven again, but the new classifications aim to make it clearer as to the level of damage you might have to put right. 

If my car’s written off, can I buy it back from the insurance provider?

When your car’s written off, it’s retained by your insurance provider – your pay out is compensation for this. But if your car falls into categories C or D (or categories S and N from October), then you 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. 

Insurance is your safety net

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

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