When you’ve been in an accident, occasionally your car can be crash-damaged to the point where it becomes a ‘write-off’. Essentially, this means that the car is so damaged that it no longer safe to drive, or the repairs on the car are more expensive than the value of the vehicle. There are a number of strict guidelines which your car insurance company use to determine what happens to your car in this scenario – these are known as car damage categories.
Category A Cars
The damage to your car is so extreme that no part of the vehicle can be salvaged.
If your car is put in Category A, it will be completely scrapped and you will receive a cash payout equivalent to the car’s market value prior to the accident.
Category B Cars
The damage to your car is extensive (i.e. the body, frame or chassis of the car could not be used again) and the vehicle will have to be scrapped.
If your car is put in Category B, the body will be completely scrapped, but some parts will be reclaimed to use in other vehicles. You will receive a cash payout equivalent to the car’s market value prior to the accident.
Category S Cars
The damage to your car is structural (i.e. the wheel axis is bent, a part of the chassis is crumpled or twisted and deemed unsafe) and is uneconomical to repair. This means that the car will avoid being scrapped but will have to be professionally repaired before being driven on the road.
In this case, the insurer will sell the car to someone who chooses to repair the car, which covers the costs of your insurance plan. You can choose to re-buy the car if you so wish.
Category N Cars
Your car hasn’t received any structural damage but has an issue which makes it uneconomical to repair. This is normally based on whether the repairs will cost more than 50% of the car’s value. This can be cosmetic damage, such as a significant dent or collapse in the chassis, or damages to the steering or braking system.
In this case, your insurer will pay you the equivalent of what your car would have cost before the accident.
If your car has been written-off in an accident, your insurance company will ask to take ownership of the car in order to provide some of your cash payout – this will have been included as a condition in your insurance plan. However, the insurance company can’t do so until you agree the price for the car. So, don’t accept their offer if it doesn’t reflect the true value of your vehicle. You should base your value on market research and factors such as service history and any private work you had done (i.e. new alloys).
Sometimes car traders an attempt to hide a car’s history from you and attempt to sell you a Category S or N vehicle. It’s important to always ask for a full service history check before you buy any car!
When it comes to crash-damaged cars, it is important to know where you stand with your insurance company. We hope our breakdown of car damage categories and write-off advice will help.