An airbag being activated through a steering wheel after a collision

What is a write-off and when does it happen?

A write-off is a term used alarmingly often, but what does it actually mean?

Every driver dreads hearing the words “your car is a write-off’, and that isn’t without good reason. A write-off is when the insurer of car determines that the cost of repairs is in excess of the vehicles value, or more than the value of the policy. For example, if you only have 3rd party insurance, then you won’t be covered for the cost of any repairs. 

Be that as it may, your car could still be considered a write-off and you wouldn’t have to seek to purchase a new vehicle. It may sound contradictory, here is a detailed break down on what write-offs actually mean;

Write-off categories explained

When a car is written off, it’s placed into one of four categories, A, B, N and S. The categories indicate the following;

  • Category A: A car has sustained enough damage to be deemed completely unsalvageable – cars in category A are usually crushed at compactor sites.
  • Category B: A car has sustained unrepairable damage such as serious structural damage but enough parts have survived to be recycled. After all the redeemable parts are removed, the remainder of the vehicle is then crushed.
  • Category N: One of two categories which deems a car somewhat repairable. This usually indicates that a car hasn’t suffered significant structural damage and can be repaired.
  • Category S: This particular category suggests that a car has suffered structural damage, but that damage can be repaired.

While categories N & S indicate that a car could feasibly be repaired, whether it does get repaired or written off by an insurer depends on whether the total cost required to get the car roadworthy once more is in excess the value of the car.

The cost of repairs could potentially be less than the value of the car, but an insurer may still deem the vehicle a write off due to other factors, such as car hire and bank fees. The cost of repairs may not make economical sense, so the car will be written off.

Be aware of your insurance policy

An easy way to look at is a car being written off is like this, essentially, an insurance company is buying the car. They are obliged to pay a certain amount of money out, this would depend on your policy and what you’re covered for. They then take possession of the car- there is often an option to buy this car back, but usually a write-off means you’re likely to be without it.

If you wish to buy you car back for sentimental or practical reasons, then some insurance companies will allow for exceptions. But usually, your policy determines whether or not you will be able to get your old vehicle back in your possession- so it's important to be aware what your insurance policy covers.

Does your car require a service?

Does you car need checking over? Give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding a write-off by ensuring you car is up to code and performing to its best capabilities. Visit your local Eurofit centre and leave your vehicle in the safe hands of our talented technicians.

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