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Car Damage Categories UK: Which Is The Worst?

Car Damage Categories UK

Added by Leap Digital

24 September, 2021

There are often instances when a car gets damaged due to natural causes or accidents. Car insurance companies check the damaged car to determine whether it is roadworthy or not. If the insurance company determines that the car is not repairable, it is deemed as a ‘write-off’ according to car damage categories UK.

Insurance companies also deem a car as a ‘write-off’ when the repairing costs become more costly than the car’s worth. There are several car damage categories under which a car insurance write-off takes place. In this article, we will thoroughly explain the car damage categories. 

What Is A Car Insurance Write-Off?

A car insurance write-off basically takes place when a car sustains too much damage. A serious crash or natural disasters usually causes this level of damage to a car. 

Beyond economical repair means that the repairing costs of that car will cost more than the economic worth of it. Insurance companies consider the resale value of the car, repairing costs, etc., before writing off a car as beyond economical repair.

If the repairing cost equals up to 50-60% of the car’s market value, it is deemed as beyond economical repair. However, this percentage varies from one car insurance company to the other, depending on the company policy. 

An insurance agent or engineer checks the car either in person or from photos and reports provided by the mechanic. While conducting the inspection, the agent of the engineer follows the strict criteria of claims. They decide the category N damage. 

Car Damage Categories UK

Whether your car will end up being written-off or not depends on the amount of damage it endured. After careful and considerate changes, insurance companies introduced four vehicle damage categories. These damage categories will let you know how much damage your car has suffered.

The damaged vehicle will fall under one of the four car damage categories. That category helps the car insurance company to determine whether your car will be written-off or get repaired. Let us look at the vehicle category list and their explanations.

1. Car Damage Category A

Car damage category A is the most severe out of the four car damage categories UK. Cars that fall into this category are so damaged that the entire car, including all its parts, must undergo scrapping. These cars are unrepairable to the extreme point. Vehicles under category A must never re-appear on the roads.

2. Car Damage Category B

Vehicles listed under category B suffered extensive damage and were written off as unusable or wasteful. But there are still a few salvageable parts of these vehicles available. In the case of the vehicles in category B, car scrappers crush the body shell of the car as it is unrepairable and not roadworthy.

However, the car scrappers salvage the undamaged or reclaimed parts for reselling or use in roadworthy and repairable cars. Like cars in category A, category B cars must also never be back on the roads. Only the salvageable parts may go forward to help the roadworthy vehicles in need. 

3. Car Damage Category S

Category S, formerly known as salvage category C, is a new category and refers to cars that undergo structural damage. Examples of structural damages in cars often include twisted or bent chassis or a completely destroyed crumple zone. In the majority of cars listed under category S damage, the damage suffered by the car is more than cosmetic.

As a result of category S car damage, the insurance companies often decide against performing the car repairs by themselves. In cases like these, a specialist carries out the repairs to such a standard where the car is roadworthy. Until then, the insurance company deems the car as unsafe and not roadworthy. 

4. Car Damage Category N

The category N damage is the least severe category out of the four car damage categories UK. Cars listed under this category do not sustain any sort of structural damage. This means that the car insurance write-offs usually take place for cosmetic or electric issues. 

These cars are unsafe and not roadworthy until all the necessary repairs and inspections take place. Non-structural car damage usually indicates faults in the steering, brakes, or other parts of the car-related to safety. 

Why Did Car Damage Categories C And D Change?

The insurance companies initially used vehicle damage categories A, B, C, and D to determine a write-off. In 2017, the car damage categories S and N replaced the categories C and D, but categories A and B remained unchanged. Let us take a look at the categories C (now S) and D (now N).

Car Damage Category C

The vehicle categorised under the salvage category C can legally return to the road after completing the necessary repairs. But in most cases, the cost of repairs ended up being too costly. The car owner had to take the responsibility and bear the costs as repairing costed more than the car’s worth.

Car Damage Category D

When a car gets written-off under any vehicle damage categories, it is not allowed to be back on the roads. In the UK, if you want to put a car back on the roads, you have to re-register it with the DVLA. Cars listed under category D suffered the least damage and could return to the road without re-registering with the DVLA.

The repair costs of these vehicles were significantly cheaper than the cost of repairing cars under salvage category C. But the other additional costs did not make the car worthwhile any longer. Before changing categories C and D to S and N, the insurance companies used to estimate the cost of repairs for these damaged cars.

This significant change took place as some insurance companies were quick to write off a car to be crushed. These decisions by the insurance companies caused several repairable and drivable cars to undergo scrapping prematurely. The introduction of these new categories aims to decrease the number of cars going through premature scrapping.

How Much Money Will I Get If My Car Is Written-Off?

The amount of settlement money you will receive after your car is written off depends on the car’s worth before the damage. How much the car written off under car damage categories UK is worth will be determined by the car insurance company. You can easily replace your car with a similar one in your area with the money you will receive as insurance pay-out. 

But keep in mind that you will most probably not get the exact amount you paid for it.

Can I Buy A Car That Has Been Written-Off?

Yes, legally, you can purchase a written-off car, but you can only purchase cars listed under categories S and N. Vehicles listed under categories A and B of the car damage categories UK are not up for sale. The cars in category A undergo complete scrapping while the category B cars undergo scrapping except for the salvageable parts.

The opportunity of purchasing a category n damage car is quite tempting due to the attention-grabbing prices. Even though these prices look super tempting, it is essential to do proper research on the history of the car. Look at the top tips that you must know before moving forward to purchase a written-off car.

1. Buy the written-off car from a trusted and registered dealer

If you buy a car categorised under category n damage from a registered dealer, then you will receive more consumer rights. A car dealer has to declare everything they know about a car before selling it. On the other hand,  private sellers only have to ensure that the car looks exactly as described. 

2. Ask several questions

Before purchasing a car that has been written off, make sure to ask a lot of questions to the dealer. The most common questions you must ask are:

  • How much damage did the car suffer, and what caused this damage?
  • Do you have any photos of the damage?
  • Where did the repairs take place, and how much did repairing cost?
  • Which parts of the car underwent replacement during repairing?

The insurance companies do not have to mention information about how the car ended up as a write-off. Check the vehicle category list the car falls. But if you ask the right questions about the car to the dealer, you can know what actually happened. 

3. Get an inspection done on the car

If the car attracted you due to its low, attention-grabbing price, it is better to get the car inspected properly. Even though car inspection typically costs £200, it is worth the investment if you are interested in the car. A car inspector has the experience and knows exactly what to check and can find damage that we normally miss. Getting your car inspected can easily save you from purchasing a potentially unsafe car.

4. Get a history check done

There are various things to worry about when buying a second-hand car other than accident damage. Getting a history check done on the car will let you know whether it is a stolen car or not. It will also let you know whether the car has any sort of outstanding finance or not.

5. Be aware of the newer cars that offer a high amount of savings

The old saying, “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is”, undoubtedly applies in this sort of situation. If dealers offer a newer car at an extremely low price, it could be a sign that something is wrong. 

The most common reason why cars with category n damage become available at a low price is that the repair work is done on a budget.  Thus it is not being satisfactory

6. Avoid vehicles with a damaged chassis

You can purchase a car that underwent body damage as it is easy to fix the body damage of a car. But a car with a damaged chassis usually keeps on causing problems even after it is repaired. 

It is better to check which car damage categories UK it falls on. You must be extremely careful about purchasing a car if you know that it suffered damage in the chassis area.

If you have finally made up your mind on buying a category N write-off car, then there are only two things left to consider. These are:

  • Inform your insurance company about the write-off car:

Make sure that you inform your insurance company that the car you are buying is categorised under category N . In the majority of the cases, the insurance company has to mention it in your policy. If it is not mentioned, then are chances where the insurance company can turn down your claims in the future.

  • Investigate the warranty policy carefully:

There are some used warranty suppliers that provide covers for vehicles categorised under car damage category N. Investing in the warranty can be a very cost-effective way of providing yourself with some sort of peace of mind. It will undoubtedly help you with your newly purchased car and any repairs that have been done. 

Final Words:

Now that you know everything about the car damage categories UK, you can now easily assess the salvage categories for written-off cars. Explanation of the car damage categories will give you a better understanding of the level of damage a car suffered before being written off. If you ask about my personal preference, I will say that category A is the worst among all the vehicle damage categories. In category A, the car becomes completely unsalvageable and undergoes scrapping. Repairing is completely out of the question, and there are no salvageable parts as well. In such cases, contact We Buy Any Salvage Car to scrap your car.

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