Selling a Cat C or D Car – The Definitive Guide (2017)

Many vehicle owners come to Scrap Car Comparison to find buyers for their insurance Category C or Category D cars after struggling to sell them privately. A category marker stays with the car for life and will always have a significant impact on the resale value of the vehicle. The impact to the price is exceptionally large when someone tries to sell a car privately as they generally can’t offer a warranty or any guarantees that the car has been repaired to a professional standard. The good news is our buyers don’t just buy scrap – as well as our ATF’s (Authorised Treatment Facilities), we have a network of Cat C and Cat D buyers that can be very competitive on price because they can ensure that the vehicle has been repaired correctly and then sell the vehicle with a full warranty and repair guarantee giving potential buyers the reassurance that they need to buy a crash damaged car.

There are several different types of marker but Cat D and Cat C insurance write-offs are the most frequently sold through Scrap Car Comparison as our network of damaged car buyers offer great prices and free collection from anywhere in the UK.

Many customers who have sold repaired insurance category C or D write-off cars through our buyers in the past have been totally unaware that their cars had been previously damaged. In most cases they had not carried out a vehicle history check at the time of purchase leaving them unknowingly purchasing a Cat C or Cat D vehicle at a full retail price. In many cases this would have invalidated their insurance and some of the vehicles were so poorly repaired that they were not even safe for use on the road.

The insurance industry puts accident damaged cars into one of four insurance categories of damage: A, B, C & D. The level of damage is highest in Category A cars.

So, what’s the difference between the insurance categories you ask?

A full HPI check will reveal the following classifications:

CATA

A category A car has serious levels of damage and must never be returned to the road. These vehicles can’t be repaired and are destined for the crusher. Even salvageable parts of the vehicle must be destroyed. Category A cars are often those involved in serious road traffic incidents that have involved a fatality and also contamination issues from the human body. Other types of damage can range from structural, flood, burnt out by fire or severely damaged with no serviceable parts.

CATB

A category B car is not quite as seriously damaged as Cat A vehicles and can be broken into spare parts. The vehicles will have extensive damage, and the body of the car must be destroyed. These cars should never be put back on the road, although salvageable parts may be reused in other vehicles. Examples could include water or fire damage or structural. This is often when the monocoque structure of the chassis is compromised rather than bolt on parts.

CATC

Category C damage will be repairable, but the insurance company will have classed it as a Cat C car write-off because the cost of repairs exceeded the retail value of the car. These cars will often have moderately heavy damage and should only be put back on the road by skilled technicians. There may be some structural damage but it has been deemed that the car can be repaired safely. Many are not economical to repair which is why the insurance industry classifies them as Cat C.

CATD

Cat D car damage is classed as the mildest form of categorized damage. These vehicles are often economical to repair but the insurer has decided not to go ahead with the repairs classing it as a Cat D write-off. This can be due to the influence of the owner not wanting the car to be repaired or difficulty in obtaining parts for the car. Other factors could be storage or recovery costs for vehicles with a lesser value combined with the insurance processing costs.

The following categories of F, U, V and X are no longer deemed valid markers within the insurance industry and the DVLA. However, you may still hear people referring to them.

CATF

Category F is for vehicles that have been declared as irreparable because of fire damage or cars that have been stolen and had their total loss payment covered. That means an insurer has paid out for the stolen car so that – even if it has been bought by an innocent party – it can be repossessed immediately by the insurer to cover losses. One to avoid!

CATU

Category U cars are known as “unrecorded insurance write offs“. Vehicles that are not owned by an insurance company and may have sustained accident damage. The vehicle is not governed by ABI categorisation guidelines and is unlikely to have been reported to the Motor Insurance Anti-Fraud Theft Register (MIAFTR).

CATV

This category is a register for insurance providers to list when a vehicle has been registered as a write-off. Vehicles that are classified to the V-Car register can never lose this tag on the database; although it is legal for the car to be returned to the road. It is indeed possible to buy a car that is classed as a V Car from a dealer or private owner provided that it falls under Category C and D all necessary repairs have been made.

CATX

A Category X car is usually recovered stolen that’s been paid out on, meaning they’re easily repairable and very often perfectly roadworthy. Vehicles listed as Cat X are deemed the most desirable of the salvage industry. The cars are not recorded on the HPI register and as soon as the vehicle is safely repaired there will be no record of the initial damage. These vehicles are typically sourced direct from manufacturer or rental companies who are unable to re-sell the vehicle as new or are unwilling to progress an insurance claim.

Here is a simple guide of answers to the most common questions about category write-off vehicles:

A: There are many companies out there which can carry out online or text check services from a registration. Two of the most common are www.hpi.co.uk and www.autocheck.uk. These checks will look for any category markers, stolen markers, export markers and outstanding finance. There are also many new cheap and easy options on the market like TextReg but you need to be sure to check the small print as many of these do not check for finance agreements.
A1: Once a car has been fully repaired the resale value of a categorized car is significantly reduced for three main reasons:

– Buyers are naturally concerned that the vehicle may not have been repaired to a perfect standard meaning that the car may require further repairs or even be unsafe to drive.
– They are aware that the resale value of the vehicle will always be affected.
– Many insurance companies charge an excess for Cat C and Cat D cars which can outweigh the initial price reduction.

Typically for cars with a pre-accident value of under £5000, a Cat C car loses around 45% of its value and a Cat D loses around 40%. When the pre-accident damage value is higher, the percentage decrease is reduced slightly but it will always have a significant effect on the overall value.

The next complication is that only a very small percentage of the UK market is willing to buy a categorized car and the majority that are willing to do so will only buy from a trader rather than a private individual. Customers are more likely to purchase a Cat C or Cat D car from a trader as they then receive a warranty and often have some guarantee as to the quality of the repair. They also know that there is somewhere to go back to if there is an issue found with the repair at a later date.

This means that it is normally easier and more financially beneficial to sell your Category C or D to a business who buys this type of vehicle. Many garages will now buy category vehicles but we have a database of ATF’s and specialist buyers who do.

A2: If you are selling a cat C or D vehicle that has not yet been repaired:

Firstly, you need to work out what the car is worth once it has been repaired, as the paragraph above explains this will be significantly below market value. Next you need work out the total cost to repair the vehicle to a satisfactory standard. Often initial quotes from garages will go up once they strip the car as they often find further parts which need repair that were not visible on initial inspection. You can then deduct the cost of the repair from the reduced sale price (leaving a margin for extra costs).

Normally we would recommend trying to sell your car in a damaged condition rather than repairing it yourself. This is because trade buyers would usually rather carry out the repairs in house so that they know that they have been done to a satisfactory standard. Also, as a private individual you are likely to pay a retail repair cost where a trade buyer would often be able to repair the car at a lower cost.

A: First, the insurer will make a calculation on what the claim will cost to process as well as what the car will cost to repair. The insurer may consider it cheaper to write off the car if these costs exceed its value. Typically if the cost of repair is over 60% of the guide value of the vehicle then the vehicle is likely to be written off. The owner will be paid and often given the chance to buy the car from the insurer so they can repair it themselves. Be aware that some insurance companies try to enforce a buy back at a higher than market value to reduce their exposure, if this is the case you can sometimes negotiate this price down. If the owner decides to take the money and not buy back the car, the insurer will, assuming it’s a Cat C or Cat D write-off, offer the car for sale at auction in order to get back its money.
A: If a dealer is selling a car then it is their legal obligation to tell their customer if the car has any category markers or finance outstanding. If you purchase a Cat C or Cat D vehicle from a dealer and you can prove that they did not inform you of this then you may be able to make a claim against them and return the car. Private sellers should inform the buyer if they are selling a Cat C or Cat D car but there is less legal recourse against them as they are not ‘professionals’ and therefore may have been unaware of this issue. Auto Trader and many other car selling platforms now automatically check every car for a category marker and list this at the top of the advert which helps to reduce the number of people unknowingly buying a previously damaged car.
A: No, stay clear. Cat A or B should only be sold to end of life vehicle buyers as this indicates that the insurer did not believe the vehicle could be adequately repaired. If you have a Category A or B car you can use our Scrap Car Comparison tool to generate a competitive price to sell your vehicle.
A: There is no law against doing this, although Cat A and B vehicles will be very difficult to sell on as they can’t be insured or used on the road.
A: The real risk for a buyer when purchasing a Cat C or Cat D write-off is paying good money for a vehicle that’s been badly repaired and is a danger to drive. We would only recommend buying a Cat C or D damaged vehicle from a garage which is offering a guarantee on the quality of the repair and a warranty on the vehicle. If the vehicle is repaired professionally, then it will be perfectly safe to drive. Buying privately, you may pick a car up for a lower price, but you need to be careful with poor repairs or hidden structural damage. Organisations such as the AA or RAC can inspect the car and tell you all you need to know about its condition and any problems lurking within it. Or you may know a good mechanic who can carry out an inspection.
A: No, a category marker cannot be removed from a car. Once a car has been classified as Cat C or a Cat D write-off by the insurance company, it stays on record forever.
A: Don’t expect insuring your Cat C or D car will be straightforward. Some insurers won’t consider covering such a car and those that do may charge a higher premium. An engineer’s inspection report may help smooth the way with some insurers.
A: This is a bit of a grey area, insurers’ terms and conditions require you to answer any questions accurately. Most insurers will ask you this question but some may not. This issue is that some questions they ask can be fairly subjective meaning that if they could prove you held back the information they may have an option try and avoid making payment in the event of a claim. As a consumer you have no obligation whatsoever to second guess information they have not requested. However, all insurance companies state that you must inform them of all ‘material facts’, and that failure to do so may affect any claim.
A: The VIC scheme has now been abolished for Cat C vehicles, if has never been required for Cat D cars and with Cat A & B vehicles will not be issued with a V5C certificate.

The VIC scheme meant that any vehicle written off by insurers would have a marker placed against it on DVLA records and the DVLA would not issue a replacement V5C (logbook) until the vehicle had been subjected to a VIC test and passed. This test proves the vehicle’s identity and allows the DVLA to issue a replacement V5C. The VIC scheme applied to all Cat C vehicles that were looking to be returned to the road. Therefore, if you are looking to get a Cat C vehicle back on the road you will no longer be required to book a VIC test slot, instead you can proceed to obtain a replacement V5C from the DVLA in the normal manner. It is worth mentioning that replacement V5Cs will be available free of charge for Cat C vehicles.