If you had a bad car accident and your car is beyond repair, you will probably get a claim for that. But your car insurance company puts your vehicle in a particular write-off category. What does it mean? Is it legal to drive an Insurance write-off car? And should you consider buying a write-off car? All this and more in our up-to-date guide.
What is a Write-Off?
The insurance companies put the car in a particular write-off category when it has been damaged to the extent that it is unsafe to get it back on the road or when the repair cost exceeds the car’s current market value. We refer to any damage to the car by water, fire, or car crash by accident. Note that not every damaged car is written-off until it is in a severe car crash or fire or water has destroyed the engine and car’s essential components.
The car insurance companies do not randomly write off the car. Instead, they employ car assessors and Engineers to inspect the car, estimate repair costs, analyse if the vehicle is roadworthy after the accident, and declare any insurance write-off categories according to the damage.
Updated Write-Off Categories
In October 2017, the insurance write-off categories were updated. The Cat C and D were replaced by Cat S and Cat N., But it makes us wonder what has changed besides their names and do the same caveats are still in place? The categories were updated to reflect the repairing complexities of modern cars better. But it is worth mentioning that cars written off as Cat C and D will not be reassessed. Before these changes, Cat C and D were analysed concerning its repair cost.
These changes became necessary because some insurers quickly decided to crush the vehicle when the repair cost exceeded half of the car’s market value. As a result, more and more vehicles that were safe to drive were prematurely scrapped. The new categories were introduced to decrease this premature scrapping. Other than this, the same caveats of Cat C and D are still in place.
What are Cat A and Cat B Damage?
Cat A (Scrap) – When your insurer decides to put your car in Cat A, it means that it has suffered damage beyond repair, and the car is labelled scrap. The Cat A vehicles damage is so severe that even its salvageable parts are crushed. It is the most severe category your car can fall into. Cat A vehicles must never get back on the road.
Cat B (Break) – The Cat B branded cars have suffered extensive damage and are still labelled as waste, but some parts are still salvageable. The car is marked unsafe on the road, but one can claim the salvageable parts and re-use them in other vehicles.
What is Cat S and Cat N Damage?
Cat S – When the V5C certificate of the car shows Cat S, it means that the car has suffered structural damage. The structural damage includes bent or twisted chassis. Usually, the Cat S branded vehicles have suffered damage beyond the repairing skill of an ordinary engineer. As a result, the insurers do not perform a repair themselves and suggests that it must be repaired by a professional – Until then, the car is unsafe to be on the road.
Car N is the least severe category that the insurance companies can put your car in. The branded N vehicles have not suffered structural damage. It means that the damage is cosmetic or electrical reasons. But still, until repaired, the N branded vehicles are unsafe to be on the road because non-structural damage means faults in steering, brakes, or other safety-related problems.
Insurance Write-Off Categories At a Quick Glimpse
- Car A – Scrap
- Cat B – Break
- Cat S – Structurally damaged repairable
- Cat N – Non-structurally damaged repairable
Should I Consider Buying a Cat S or Cat N Vehicle?
Since the UK law allows Cat S and Cat N cars to be on the road again, you will find them in large numbers in the second-hand market. But buyers beware; most insurance companies will not provide a cover for branded N and Scars. The car has suffered extensive damage, and it is most likely for a driver to get a claim.
Still, you can overcome this problem by hunting around Cat S and N cover in other insurance companies but remember it will be more expensive than a non-written-off vehicle. Either way, the written-off cars are not worthy of buying. You may find a great deal, but you will find it hard to sell it in the future. Most of the buyers will not even consider buying it.
The car categories are in place to signify the car’s damage. It helps buyers dodge written-off vehicles in the second-hand market as their V5C certificate shows a specific type. Even though it is not recommended to buy a written-off car, prepare for an expensive insurance cover if you find yourself buying one.