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Often when searching for a new or used car online, prospective buyers will come across cars that have been put into a specific category. This means the car being sold has been involved in a serious accident at some point during its working life, which has to be legally declared at the point of sale.
Below, Trusted Dealers has provided a guide on category cars, to help buyers make an informed choice before purchasing a vehicle of this type.
What is a write-off?
If your car gets damaged in an accident, your insurance company will make the decision as to whether the vehicle should be repaired or not. If they decide it’s too dangerous or uneconomical to repair, your car may become a write-off, which means you’ll not be able to drive it again unless it gets repaired.
What are the damage categories?
There are 4 different categories that a damaged car can fall into, depending on how badly it has been damaged – category A, B, S and N. These categories replaced category C and D in October 2017.
Category A – a car in this category cannot return to the road, even if it’s repaired. The damage is so great that the car will be crushed and cannot even be used for parts.
Category B – if the insurance company give a car a Cat B status it cannot be driven again, but working parts can be stripped from the car before it’s crushed or it can be sold on for parts-only.
Category S – replaces the old Cat C. Cars in this category have suffered some structural damage and will have to be thoroughly repaired before they are allowed back on the road.
Category N – replaces the old Cat D, and means the car has not suffered any structural damage. Instead it could be cosmetic or electric damage or problems with some of the important parts of the vehicle. Even though the damage may appear minimal, if you’re considering buying a Cat N car, it’s always best to get it thoroughly checked by a qualified mechanic as the damage could relate to steering, brakes or the engine electrics.
Will my car be repaired?
Even if the damage does not look serious on a car, it can still be written off if the insurance company deem the car uneconomical to repair based on its original value and the cost to repair it. All insurers will differ when it comes to making this choice, but many will say that if the cost to repair the damage is more than 50% of the value of the car, it really isn’t worth repairing.
Why is my car a write off?
Even if a car’s damage appears to be fairly minimal, the car can still be written off. This is because insurance companies are under an obligation to the owner to repair the car to its state before the crash, which means only manufacturer approved parts and repair shops can be used, which can cause costs to spiral.
Should I buy a Cat S or Cat N Car?
Buying a car in one of these categories does pose an element of risk to the buyer so the price of the car should be reflected accordingly. Often damaged cars can look like a bargain, so it’s important to make sure the car has been repaired properly and safely. The damage to the vehicle should also be detailed on the car’s history. Be aware that some sellers might want to get rid of damaged cars quickly, and therefore might not disclose the extent of the damage. A history check should bring up all the necessary information.
Can I insure a Cat S or Cat N car?
Not all insurers will cover these type of cars, and your premium that you pay may well be higher for a previously damaged vehicle. You may also have to submit written evidence before you take out the policy detailing exactly what damage has been caused to the car. Companies such as the RAC and AA will be able to carry out such a report but it will cost you extra cash on top of a potentially higher insurance premium.