Car insurance write-off's are every motorist's wort nightmare: you have a minor prang, and a few days later your insurer calls you to say that the damage isn't economically worth repairing, and your car needs to be written off.
This can be deeply frustrating, especially when the damage is cosmetic and has no bearing on either the car's roadworthiness or its resale value. If a car is worth £500 and you crack the front bumper, the chances are your insurer won't pay for a repair or replacement part. As a rule of thumb, your car is likely to be written off if a professional repair costs more than half of its value.
Don't lose hope though: there are different levels of insurance write-off and you won't always need to part ways with your car. And if you're a buyer, just because a car has been written off doesn't neccassirly mean you should steer clear.
Car insurance write-off categories
It all depends which 'category' of write-off has been applied to a damaged car. There are four categories, and knowing what they mean is vital to know what to do with an insurance write-off.
The system was revamped in October 2017, with new denominations given to the categoies at the lower end of the damage scale. This can be confusing if you're not sure what the letters mean, so let's exaplain them.
This replaced Category D in October 2017, and is used to describe vehicles that have received non-structural damage that the insurer has deemed not worth repairing.
Though the damage may be less visibly severe than a Category S write-off, ‘non-structural damage’ could affect the electronics, brakes, suspension or mechanics of a car, so it will still usually need rectifying before it goes back on the road.
As it is normally relatively easy to repair this level of damage, many Category N write-offs can be found in the classifieds, and shouldn’t cost much more to insure than a non-damaged car.