Buying an Insurance Write Off – Pros & Cons

When you are in the market for a secondhand vehicle, the idea of buying insurance write off might not sound useful to you. Right? However, if you know the history and the condition of the written-off vehicle very well, you may save a lot of money with this purchase. First, check vehicle insurance category it lies in, and then you will be able to decide if it is worth the time and energy you will put into repairing it.

This insurance write-off guide explains everything about written-off vehicles and gives you a piece of advice on buying a written-off car.

What is An Insurance Write-off?

Any vehicle that meets an accident and goes to the insurer for a claim has two possible faiths. Either the insurance firm will pay for the repairs, or they will put it into an insurance write-off category. If the company decides to write it off, it means the repair-cost is more than the value of the vehicle (customarily fixed at 50% of the car’s worth). What happens afterwards depends on the insurer and the salvage agent’s decision on the write-off category.  

There are four categories, namely A, B, S, and N, that are part of a code of practice prepared by the Association of British Insurers (ABI). ABI took assistance from different institutes such as the DVLA and the Department for Transport and the British Vehicle Salvage Federation to develop these classes.

How Would You Know If a Car Is Written Off?

You simply need to perform insurance write off check. As this is a premium service, no company in the UK offers this as part of their free vehicle history check. However, you should make sure you buy the cheapest vehicle to write off check because this car check is not exhaustive. You just get to know the Category assigned to the vehicle and the Vehicle Identity Check (VIC) marker. Car Analytics’ car write off check only costs you £8.95* and comes with lots of other details like outstanding finance history, stolen and scrapped status, and keeper’s history and plate change history, among other things. Know what’s included in our comprehensive vehicle check.

Check Vehicle Insurance Write Off Categories

ABI updated the write-off categories in October 2017, where they changed Category C and Category D with Category S and Category N, respectively.

Category A and Category B Write Off

After running the insurance write off check, if you find the car you are interested in has ‘Cat A’ or ‘Cat B,’ we advise you to steer clear of it. Such vehicles are so severely damaged that they are beyond repair. The only difference between A and B is that the latter can be pulled apart and recycled for parts. No part of the Cat A car can be salvaged, and it should be scrapped altogether. A ‘Cat B’ vehicle is also shredded after removing the useable parts.  

Category S Write Off

A ‘Cat S’ vehicle means that the accident has caused structural damage to it. You cannot repair it on your own, but it can return to the road after appropriate repairs from a professional mechanic. The ‘S’ here stands for ‘Structure.’

Category N Write Off

The ‘N’ stands here for Non-structural damage meaning the accident caused harm to brakes, steering, suspension, or any other component. Similar to ‘Cat S,’ the ‘Cat N’ cars can return to the road after proper fixes.

write off

Should You Buy a Cat S or Cat N Car?

When we check vehicle insurance categories, we mostly find Cat S and Cat N cars. While these vehicles are not suitable for faint-hearted individuals, they surely allow you to bag a good deal.

The catch here is to estimate the cost of repair. Admittedly, it will not be a good bargain if the repair cost goes higher than the value of the car in the market. Yes, older models do get written off even for little scrapes and dents, so they could be better rather than buying a newer written-off model.

Reasons to Purchase A Write-off Car

The key reason for car shoppers to opt for insurance write off is the price. A ‘Cat S’ or ‘Cat N’ vehicle sells at a very cheaper rate than an undamaged model of the same age and mileage. Therefore, many people, including car dealers, repairers, and average car lovers, buy written-off automobiles.    

Before purchasing a damage-repairable vehicle, you need to estimate the potential cost to make it roadworthy again.

If you are purchasing it to make a profit, analyze carefully if after the repair it could give you a reasonable earning. You should also understand that ‘Cat S’ and ‘Cat N’ cars will sell at a lower price than the ones selling at a showroom, no matter how proper are the repairs.

Alternatively, if you like to buy the vehicle for your own use, then you might be able to endure a one-time massive repair bill. However, here too, you must have a good knowledge of the automotive market. If the repairs take the price closer to the undamaged vehicle in the market, why take this risk?

Piece of Advice

Never buy a Cat N or Cat S car without taking a car inspection report (learn the difference between car check and car inspection). Services like RAC and AA have trained professionals who will identify the dangers related to the vehicle’s condition, its reliability in addition to any issues under the surface level. It will cost you a lot higher than our full auto check, but it can be invaluable when you go to insure a Cat S or Cat N vehicle.

Final Thoughts

We have given the pros and cons of buying an insurance write-off, and now the ball is in your court. It is up to you to decide whether you are willing to take the risk with a proper assessment of the repairs or not. Yes, you can buy a written-off vehicle at a fraction of the price of an undamaged car. But, it can be a huge gamble if your own evaluation of the car goes wrong.  

To make sure you know what you are buying, always take the best HPI check alternative.

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Insurance Write Off Check – Is Buying A Written-off Car A Good Idea?
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Insurance Write Off Check – Is Buying A Written-off Car A Good Idea?
Buying insurance write off has its pros and cons. Check vehicle insurance write off category through our car check and decide wisely.
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Car Analytics
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