When Do Insurers Decide to Write Off a Car?

Any car owner would be frustrated when the insurance company writes off a car. Have you experienced getting into a small accident where your car got a bit of damage that doesn’t really affect its roadworthiness? You call the insurer immediately but after a few days, they tell you that the vehicle is now written off because it’s “not economically viable to repair.” Why do these things happen? The car can clearly be repaired and be driven again. When do insurers decide to write off a car? 

When is a Damaged Car Written Off?

Situations like this can be frustrating to car owners, especially when the damage on the car doesn’t have any bearing on the car’s performance and resale value. But what we have to understand is that insurance companies look at the current market value of your car during the accident and the cost of repair. If the repair cost is more than 50% of the car’s value, the insurer would rather write it off and pay you rather than get the car fixed. 

What are the Different Write-Off Categories?

Not all cars that have been written off are completely damaged and unsalvageable. Most of the time, a written-off vehicle is just considered to be not economically viable to repair. There are four categories when it comes to car insurance write-offs. Before 2017, it was Categories A, B, C, and D. At present, it’s now A, B, S, and N. 

Category S

Cat S used to be called Category C. If the car has been written off as a Category S vehicle, it means that it has incurred structural bodywork damage. It may have a creased door frame or a bent chassis, for example. However, the good thing about this kind of damage is that it can still be fixed so that the car can go back on the road. 

Category S cars have the least severe damage. Nonetheless, these vehicles are still considered unsafe for driving until it has been repaired thoroughly by an expert auto mechanic. Here's an article where you can learn more about Cat S cars and if you should buy one.

Category N

Cat N cars were previously called Category D. Under this category, the vehicles have incurred non-structural damage but the car insurance company has decided that they are not worth fixing. 

You may think that since Category N cars don’t have structural damage, they should be better than Category S cars. This is not the case most of the time because non-structural damage may mean that some vital parts of the car like the suspension, brakes, and electronics have been affected. These problems can still be easily repaired by a professional repairer. 

Category B

Cat B is the category assigned for cars that have incurred extensive damage. This means the damage could be electrical, mechanical, or structural. Cars under category B are no longer safe to drive so they cannot return to the road. 

The shell of the car needs to be crushed so that it will no longer be used. However, if it has serviceable parts, then those are removed and used on other cars. Keep in mind that only Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATFs) can handle Cat B cars. They will only sell such vehicles to certified businesses that are allowed to store and also destroy them. 

Category A

Cat A cars are the ones that have been severely damaged. They are no longer good for anything, even their serviceable parts cannot be reused. All that’s left to do with Category A cars is to crush and destroy them. Cars that have been involved in high-speed impacts, extensive vandalism, and complete burnouts are some examples of Category A vehicles.

What to Do If Your Car was Written Off?

After an accident,  you’ll have to notify your insurer about it. The insurance company will then make an assessment of the car’s damage. This is the time that they weigh in on whether to get the car fixed or write it off and pay you instead. 

If your car has been written off by the insurer, you will get an offer of the agreed market value for the damaged car. If you take the offer, then the insurer will take legal possession of the vehicle and either sell it or scrap it, depending on the category that the car is in. 

What if you want to keep the car? If the car was written off as a Category N vehicle, you may choose to keep it. Of course, this means you’d have to refuse the insurer’s offer. You need to have the car repaired so that it will look good as new again. 

Whatever your decision, an important step is to notify the DVLA that your car has been written off. They need to evaluate the repairs made if your car is under Category S. But if it is under Category N, further evaluation is not required. Needless to say, the car should be roadworthy before you drive it again. 

Buy a Car with Carmoola

Are you thinking of buying a written-off car to save money? You know you deserve better than an insurance write-off. Don’t be intimidated by the thought of buying a newer car. With car financing, you can spread the cost of the vehicle. Instead of making the purchase with cash and paying the full price, you can pay through monthly instalments. 

Whilst car financing might not be the right choice for everyone, it is worth exploring. You must remember to think carefully about whether you will be able to make the monthly repayments, and whether finance is the right choice for you.