If your car has been ‘written off’ after a collision, it’s essential to understand what it means for you and your insurance, and the different types of write-offs, and most importantly – what you need to do next.
What does a write-off mean?
An insurance ‘write-off’, or ‘total loss’ as it’s also known, happens when your vehicle is assessed after a collision and determined to be ‘uneconomic to repair’.
In other words, the cost of repairs exceeds the market value of the car.
For example, if your car is worth £1,000, but the damage caused to it will cost more than £1,000 to repair, then it will be declared a write-off.
In some cases, generally, where a car is less than 12 months old, repair costs that are greater than 60% of the pre-accident value might be enough to justify the vehicle being ‘totalled’.
Never store a car which has been written-off at your own property due to the Health and Safety, insurance and legal risks involved.
Instead, your vehicle should be placed in secure and appropriate storage and disposed of as soon as possible after, ensuring that anyone who needs to inspect it has done so.
What are the different categories of insurance write-offs?
Your ‘written-off’ car in its damaged state after an accident is known as ‘salvage’.
Insurance companies categorise the salvage in four main types: Category A, B, S or N.
Sometimes a vehicle that has been involved in a theft, or has been involved in a fatal accident, but which has not technically sustained enough damage to be written off can be categorised as ‘X’ and treated as if it was a write-off.
If your car has been classed as a Category A write-off, it means your vehicle is so severely damaged that it can never be back on the road and needs to be crushed.
Everything, even parts that you might want to reuse, is expected to be destroyed in a Category A.
If your car is judged to be a Category B write-off, it means that it has suffered significant damage.
Some parts may be salvaged, but the body shell should be crushed, and the vehicle should never return to the road.
Category S (previously known as Category C)
A Category S write-off or ‘Structural Damage’ write-off means that although your car can be repaired, the insurance company thinks the cost of repair ultimately exceeds the car’s market value.
Unlike Category A and B write-offs, Category S write-offs can be put back on the road despite the structural damage it has suffered in the accident.
Usually, Category S write-offs are sold by either the owner or insurer at auctions or to salvage yards or repair garages.
This is because, by using cheaper labour or second-hand parts, the vehicle could be repaired for an amount that would make it economical to repair.
Category N write-off (previously called Category D)
If your car has been declared a Category N write-off or Non-Structural Damage, it means that your vehicle is repairable.
Still, insurers generally decide whether it’s financially feasible to repair it if the cost of repairs outweighs the market value of the car.
The salvage of a Category N is usually more sought after than a Category S as it will be simpler to repair as there is no structural damage.
What comes next after my car is declared a write-off?
If your car is written off, you are entitled to the market value of a similar vehicle.
It is your legal right to get the valuation of a similar car in age and condition as yours was pre-accident.
The value is usually based on publicly available information.
What if I disagree with the write-off determination?
If you disagree with the write-off declaration, you should ask for a copy of the motor engineer’s report being relied on by your insurer.
You or your representatives can obtain an independent valuation of your vehicle based on both its pre and post-accident value to ensure your rights are protected.
Alternatively, you can carry out online searches of car sales websites to show cars of a similar age and condition to your own at different values than your insurer is suggesting.
You also have the right to retain ownership and possession of the ‘salvage’ of the vehicle.
Even if the vehicle is uneconomic to repair, this does not mean that you cannot fix it.
It just means that there is a limit to how much you would be able to claim for its loss from an insurer or another party responsible for the damage.
Help, I need a temporary replacement car!
Do you need a temporary replacement car after an accident?
If so, and if you are not at-fault for the accident you are generally entitled to one that is equivalent to your vehicle (for example, similar in size, type, number of doors and engine capacity).
If you are claiming your own insurance policy, some insurers will provide a small replacement vehicle for a limited time.
If you enlist the help of CRASH Services, we supply a wide variety of vehicles including motorbikes, PSV taxis, commercial vehicles and even prestige models.
And you can rest easy knowing that we will always do our best to get you a vehicle that is suitable for your individual daily needs.
Contact us today to arrange your replacement vehicle.