How To Sell A Written Off Car.
Scrap Car Comparison is a site that many vehicle owners come to after trying to, unsuccessfully, sell their Cat C or Cat D car privately. The word ‘cat’ is abbreviated from the term category and the letters which follow this term are different classifications given by insurance companies to reflect a vehicle’s damage levels.
The bad news is that once a vehicle is given a category marker, it stays with a vehicle for life, because once a category marker has been given to a vehicle it’ll be on it’s record forever and cannot be removed. Category markers will always have a significant impact on a vehicle’s value not just because the vehicle is damaged, but because with private sellers, buyers cannot guarantee that any repair work has been done safely, or to a professional standard, and as a result warranties and guarantees cannot be provided.
The good news, however, is that at Scrap Car Comparison we have a nationwide network of specialist buyers who not only purchase scrap vehicles, but buy Cat C or Cat D insurance write-offs too. Because our buyers work within the automotive industry and have access to the knowledge and resources to safely return damaged vehicles to a roadworthy condition, they can provide incredibly competitive prices to sellers.
Recently there have been increasing amounts of people selling their Cat D and Cat C listed vehicles through our service due to not knowing, at the time of purchase, that it was an insurance write-off. Unfortunately not checking a vehicle’s history before purchasing it not only leaves many vehicle owners in the dark about their vehicle’s past, but possibly out of pocket by paying full price for a categorised vehicle. It can also invalidate car insurance. In addition to this not checking a vehicle’s history can jeopardise people’s safety, as if a car was an insurance write-off and was sold by a private buyer, the quality of work which repaired the vehicle cannot be guaranteed and if they didn’t tell you that it was an insurance write-off in the first instance would you trust the level of work done to the vehicle?
When Will An Insurer Write-Off A Vehicle?
An insurer’s job when analysing damaged vehicles is to make a calculation on what the cost of the claim process will be and whether the repairs to the vehicle will be economical for them to carry out. Previously, insurers would write-off a vehicle if the vehicle was structurally damaged or the cost of repairs was around 50% of the vehicles worth. This was because insurers would need to consider the overall cost of a claim and whether the money spent on fixing a vehicle would exceed its worth. In addition to this the insurance company would need to take other monetary considerations into account, such as; the time it would take to source parts and repair a vehicle and courtesy car costs for the customer whilst the repairs were taking place. However, since the new categorisation changes came into effect on October 1st (2017), insurers make their decisions to write-off a vehicle based on the damage levels alone, and not how much it costs to repair.
Once a vehicle has been written off the insurer will usually offer a settlement to the owner to enable them to buy a replacement vehicle of around the same value. In some instances the insurer will offer the owner the chance to buy the vehicle back in case they’d like to get it fixed themselves. But if you’re looking to do this be aware that some insurance companies try to enforce a higher-than-market-value buyback to reduce their exposure however, this price can often be negotiated down. If the vehicle owner decides to take the settlement, and doesn’t buy back the vehicle then the vehicle will become the property of the insurance company.
Insurance Categories Before 1st October 2017
There are several different types of category markers and whilst Cat C and Cat D cars are the most frequently sold category write-off sold through our website, many people still don’t know or understand what each category stands for. On the 1st of October (2017) new changes were implemented regarding insurance write-off categories which we will explain shortly, but any vehicle which was written off before this date will still use the existing write-off categorisations. It can all be a bit confusing, which is why we have provided the following breakdown to help people understand whether a written off car is safe to buy and how to tell the difference between the various insurance write-off categories!
Any vehicle with a category A insurance classification has received damage of the highest level and vehicles with this classification, and their parts, must be destroyed. Category A cars are often vehicles which have been involved in a serious road traffic accident with fatalities and as a result have both crash-damage and contamination issues. Other types of incidents which would see a vehicle given a Cat A rating include: floods, severe structural damage, or burn-outs by fire.
Should You Buy A Cat A Car?
You can but unless you are buying it to take to an Authorised Treatment Facility to be depolluted and destroyed, there isn’t any point. Category A is the highest level given in terms of damage and neither the car, or its parts, can ever be returned to the road so all elements must be destroyed.
Vehicles given a Cat B rating are not as extensively damaged as those given a Cat A rating as whilst the body of Cat B vehicles must be destroyed, the rest of the vehicle can be broken into spare parts. Examples of vehicles which would be given a Cat B classification include: water, fire or structurally damaged vehicles which have often damaged the monocoque structure of the chassis and compromised the safety of that, rather than it’s individual parts.
Should You Buy A Cat B Car?
Yes and No. If you’re planning on driving the vehicle then no, as the shell of a Cat B classified vehicle must never return to the road and must be destroyed. However, if you’re looking for a donor vehicle for parts than its parts can be used in other vehicles. Please be aware that unless you are an ATF and have a depollution rig and the relevant licenses, you cannot legally break a vehicle to sell the parts.
Cars with a Cat C classification are repairable and can be driven on roads once they have been returned to a roadworthy condition by a professional. Insurance companies tend to give this classification to cars which can be repaired, but exceed the amount that they wish to spend on doing so, as repairs can often exceed the value of the car which makes it uneconomical. There will often be structural damage on a Cat C car and it will be moderately heavy in terms of damage levels, which is why only a skilled technician should carry out the repairs.
Should You Buy A Cat C Car?
If you have done your research and are buying from a trusted seller, then yes. It’s important to look into the history of Cat C vehicles prior to purchase to ensure that all repairs have been carried out by industry professionals. Some garages or trade sellers will often give you their own guarantee or warranty on the vehicle if the repairs have been carried out by themselves, as they can guarantee the skills of the personnel who carried out the repairs. By using trusted sellers you also avoid the risk of paying the full retail price for a vehicle which is worth considerably less. If you have purchased a Cat C car from a dealer and they did not advise you of this before, or at the time of, purchase and you can prove this then you may be able to make a claim against them and return the car.
Cars listed as Cat D have the mildest form of categorised damage. These vehicles are often economical to repair but the insurer has decided not to go ahead with the repairs and instead classed 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 the storage or recovery costs for vehicles with a lesser value, combined with the insurance processing costs involved.
Should You Buy A Cat D Car?
As long as you have done your research and the repairs were carried out by a professional, then there’s no reason to avoid purchasing a Cat D car. If you are concerned about buying a category listed vehicle the AA, RAC or a well-trained mechanic can inspect the car and tell you everything about its condition and whether there are any problems lurking within it.
Other Insurance Categories
Categories A, B, C and D are the most common insurance categories used and these are used for all cars which have been written off before the 1st of October (2017). However, there are more insurance categories, which whilst not used as regularly you may still hear people referring to from time to time.
Vehicles which have been declared as irreparable because of fire damage, or because the vehicle has been stolen and had their total loss payment covered, are referred to as Cat F vehicles. This means that an insurer has paid out for the stolen car and it is now the property of the insurance company. Which means that if the car has been bought, even by an innocent party, it can immediately be repossessed by the insurer to cover costs.
Cat U is given to cars which are known as “unrecorded insurance write-offs”. For example; vehicles which are not owned by an insurance company and may have sustained accident damage. The vehicle is therefore not governed by ABI categorisation guidelines and is unlikely to have been reported to the Motor Insurance Anti-FraUd Theft Register (MIAFTR).
Cat V 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-Cat register can never lose this tag on the database; although it is legal for the car to be returned to the road if all the necessary repairs have been made, such as with Cat C and Cat D vehicles.
Cat X vehicles are typically completely roadworthy and often don’t have any damage or are easily repairable. This classification is given when a vehicle has been stolen, paid out on and then recovered, and are the most desireable in the salvage industry. Cat X cars are not recorded on the HPI register as, as soon as the vehicle is safely repaired there will be no record of the initial damage. These vehicles are typically sourced direct from manufacturers or rental companies who are unable to resell the vehicle as new, or are unwilling to process the insurance claim.
Insurance Categories From 1st October 2017
With so many categories it’s no wonder people often get confused, especially as there are eight different insurance write-off classifications! However, after two years of discussions by The Association of British Insurers (ABI), this has now changed. The changes follow two years of talks amongst stakeholders, vehicle manufacturers, insurers and government departments and will be changed to help provide clearer guidance to users to help them understand the differences between categories and these changes have been in effect since the 1st of October (2017). This has not only helped consumers to understand the new classifications with more ease but, as time goes on, will help to make roads safer. The traditional categories of A-D have now been replaced with the following:
Scrap (Cat A)
If a vehicle receives a Cat A marker after the 1st of October 2017 it means that the vehicle has been inspected by an appropriately qualified person and has been deemed as unsuitable or beyond repair. This means that the vehicle should not be repaired and is to be crushed in its entirety without any parts removed. Once the vehicle has been destroyed a certificate of destruction will be issued and the MIAFTR register entry will be completed to ensure a v5C is never reissued.
Break (Cat B)
If a vehicle receives a Cat B marker after the 1st of October 2017 it means that the vehicle has been inspected by somebody qualified to do so and declared as unsuitable or beyond repair. This means that the vehicle itself should not be repaired, however its parts can recycled and used to help repair other vehicles. The vehicle identification number, bodyshell, chassis or frame can never be used again as these elements must be crushed in their entirety without any structural components being removed.
Structurally Damaged Repairable (Cat S)
If a vehicle receives a Cat S marker it means that the vehicle has been inspected by somebody with the qualifications to do so and has been declared suitable for repair. This means that the vehicle has sustained damage to any part of the structural frame or chassis and and the insurer/self-insured owner has decided not to repair the vehicle in the first instance, but it is suitable for repairs. If the bodyshell, chassis or frame is replaced on a Cat S vehicle the original must be destroyed or returned to the vehicle manufacturer.
Non-Structurally Damaged Repairable. (Cat N)
If a vehicle receives a Cat N marker it means that it is a repairable vehicle which has not sustained any damage to the structural frame or chassis. However, it’s worth noting that there may still be some safety critical items which need replacing such as suspensions parts or steering.
The new classification structure will also reflect motorbikes and quadbikes, and will help to reflect the increasing complexity of newer vehicles and focus more on the condition of the vehicle, rather than the costs involved in getting them repaired.
Can You Sell A Written Off Car?
Yes, however it is your legal obligation to tell the person buying it that it has a category marker against it. Cat A and Cat B cars are increasingly difficult to sell as they cannot be insured or used on the road and so should only be sold either directly to an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF), or to somebody who will take it to an ATF on your behalf. Cat A and Cat B vehicles are so damaged that they are immediately considered as end-of-life vehicles which are destined to be destroyed. At an ATF the vehicle will be safely depolluted and recycled. If you’d like to sell your Cat A or Cat B vehicle we have an array of Authorised Treatment Facilities you can sell it to. In order to get a quote for your vehicle simply add your details to the instant quote form.
When selling a Cat C (S) or Cat D (Cat N) car it is important that you disclose the category marker to anybody interested in buying it, not just because it’s the right thing to do but because it’s your legal obligation to do so. This also includes whether there is any outstanding finance on a vehicle. Cat C (now Cat S) and Cat D (now Cat N) vehicles are much easier to sell as they can be used for either scrap or salvage purposes. If using a company such as AutoTrader to sell an insurance write-off, they now automatically check every listing to see whether there are any category markers and display this information at the top of the advert to help protect users of their site from unknowingly purchasing an insurance write-off.
What’s My Insurance Write-Off Worth?
Whether you’re looking to sell a car write-off, a bike or a van we’ll be able to find you the best price for your vehicle. Our network is made up of the most trusted and reputable buyers across the UK and because we have such comprehensive coverage we’ll be able to compare prices both locally, and nationally to ensure that you get the best price for your vehicle.
The worth of an insurance write-off will depend upon whether the car has been repaired or not. Calculating a vehicle’s worth can be done by tallying up the costs involved with repairing the vehicle to a satisfactory condition, with an added margin for unexpected costs. For example; many garages have had to adjust quotes made for fixing a vehicle, as once they stripped the car they noticed even more underlying damage which was not visible during the initial inspection. Category listed vehicles will be worth less regardless of whether any work has been carried out or not and vehicles which have not had any repairs attempted tend to fetch better quotes because it means that the work can be done by a professional and guarantees can be put in place by buyers. Whereas category listed cars which have repair attempts made, are typically worth less due to the following reasons:
• Buyers are, naturally, concerned that the vehicle may not have been repaired to a suitable standard. This happens when people try to fix the vehicles themselves without appropriate automotive training.
• The resale value 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 £5,000, a Cat C (Cat S) marker would mean the car loses around 45% of its value, whereas a Cat D (Cat N) maker loses around 40% of the value. When the value of a vehicle (pre-damage) is higher, the percentage decrease is slightly reduced however it will always have a significant impact on the value of a vehicle. This is further complicated by the fact that only a very small percentage of people will buy category marked vehicles and the majority of those are only willing to buy from a trader rather than a private individual. This is because the quality of the work can be guaranteed and customers feel safer knowing that the people who have fixed the vehicle have the certifications required to do so, and if for some reason the elements which were repaired break, the customer can take it back to the trader. Therefore it is usually more financially beneficial and time-efficient for you to sell a category listed vehicle unrepaired. To find out what your write-off is worth, simply add your details to the quote forms and we can provide quotes for you, instantly!
Do I Need To Tell Insurers That My Vehicle Is Category Listed?
Most insurers will ask you this question outright however there are some which won’t, which means that sometimes this can be a bit of a grey area. The issue lies with the questions being fairly subjective as insurer’s terms and conditions require you to answer any questions accurately. As a consumer you have no obligation to second guess information that they have not requested however, it’s always better to disclose this upfront and on-record as you wouldn’t want to be accused of withholding information in the event that you need to make a claim. For people who are looking to purchase a vehicle which has a category listing, getting insurance may be slightly more difficult as some insurers won’t consider covering the vehicle, whereas others will increase their premiums as the vehicle is considered more at risk. If you found a category listed vehicle which you would like to buy, an engineers inspection report may help you with some insurers.
How Do I Find Out If A Vehicle Is Category Listed?
There are many companies available which can carry out, either online or via text, check services from a registration plate. Two of the most common are www.hpi.co.uk and www.autocheck.uk. These check services will look for any category markers, whether the vehicle has been stolen, exported or if a vehicle has outstanding finance. There are also smaller companies which are cheaper, such as TextReg, but you’ll need to check the small print as many of the smaller companies do not check for outstanding finance agreements.
Should I Get A VIC Check Before I Buy/Sell A Car?
The VIC test proves a vehicle’s identity and the scheme was bought in as it meant that any vehicle written off by insurers would have a marker placed against it on DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) records. This meant that the DVLA would not be able to issue a replacement V5C (logbook) until the vehicle had been subjected to, and passed, a VIC test. The VIC test applied to all Cat C vehicles which were planning on being returned to the road however, it has now been abolished. It was never required for Cat D cars, but with Cat A and Cat B vehicles it is not needed as a V5C certificate will not be issued, and now, if you’re looking to get a Cat C vehicle back on the road you will no longer be required to book a VIC test slot.