Friday 6th February 2015
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If you’re a new driver then you may not know what the different categories of insurance mean. A, B, C and D categories may not seem as easy as ABC if you aren’t in the know.  What do insurance categories mean?  The categories are the levels of damage that insurance companies use to describe vehicles that they have written off. Read the  guide to insurance categories.

An accident could leave a car with a write off status


Category A

This is the worst and the one to avoid as Category A as the most severe level of damage.  The insurance company consider that none of the parts in the vehicle are worth using and so the car should be scrapped completely. Most of these vehicles are destroyed and you shouldn’t sell one and certainly not buy one.  No matter how good the deal is do not be tempted by any sales spiel.  Even if the car is repaired to a decent standard you may not get insurance for the vehicle and it won’t be possible to sell it.

Category B

This is the next level down from Category A and is the next most serious level of damage. Again, most of these vehicles are destroyed and you shouldn’t buy or sell one.  It is possible that some people may have kept their vehicles and they are classed as Category B after an accident but you should still avoid them.  Some parts can be salvaged from Category B vehicles and these may well be OK.  Like Category A vehicles it may be hard to find out exactly what damage the vehicle has suffered and what the underlying long term issues may be, but sellers (private and dealers) may not be very honest.  Just like Category A vehicles don’t be tempted by what seems to be a good deal.  If it’s too good to be true then it generally isn’t!

Category C

Category C is a vehicle that has been damaged by an accident, fire or a flood.  An insurance company believes that the car could be repaired but the cost of the repairs (including parts and labour) would be far more than the car is actually worth.   These vehicles are usually sold at special auctions to motor traders and garages who can afford to fix the cars at a much reduced rate.  Also, the insurance companies can get some money from these sales. These cars can be safe to drive provided they have been repaired to a good standard by a reliable garage.  Some Category C cars have quite minimal damage but still get written off.   In these cases the cost of replacing features/parts is too expensive in relation to the value of the car so the vehicle is regarded as an economic write off.  It is easier for an insurance company to declare it a total loss.  For instance, a used executive car might get a small bump without any structural damage.  However, if expensive modern features such as parking sensors were damaged it wouldn’t be worth buying new parts that were worth more than the car itself. If you are considering buying a Category C car you can check if the vehicle has undergone a governmental Vehicle Identity Check.  If the car passes this check you can get a registration certificate for it, however, you should get an independent garage to give the car a very thorough check.  The RAC can give you advice and support with this.   We advise that before buying the car you run a car data check on the vehicle before you buy it.  Read our recent blog on driving apps to find out about useful apps  that can help you to check on a vehicle’s history.  Another thing to check before buying is to find out how much the insurance will cost you as some companies will have higher rates for Category C vehicles. One advantage of Category C cars is that they are usually cheaper and can be a bargain to buy it.  When you go to sell on the vehicle you may find that its value is less than you thought.  You should be very clear and honest about the vehicle and provide documentation about what happened to the car and how it was fixed.  This will give potential buyers peace of mind.  Also, you can’t ask for the same price as exactly the same car that hasn’t been written off so don’t over-charge.

Category D

This is the lowest level of damage that insurance companies use to describe vehicles that they have written off. Like Category C these vehicles are regarded by insurance companies as not being worth the cost of the repairs.  Category D cars are safe to buy and drive, but like Category C cars you should ensure that the car has been repaired properly.  It is worth less than an equivalent that hasn’t been written off so don’t pay over the odds.  Likewise you won’t be able to sell it for as much as the same vehicle that hadn’t been written off.  Check the amount of insurance payments as the insurance could be higher due to the car’s status. In all categories a private seller is not obliged to tell you about the status of the car and in fact could claim ignorance.  Dealers should warn you about a car’s written off status and you can make a claim against them if they don’t.  The status of the car is permanent so if you do buy one of these cars be aware that their re-sale value is less and insurance payments can be higher. Autocheck is a great site that can help you to check on the history of a vehicle.  They state that one in eight cars is recorded as an insurance write off so it is well worth checking  a vehicle before purchasing.  This is really critical when buying a car as there is no obligation for the owner of the car to prove the quality of the repairs to written off vehicles. If you find out that your vehicle has been classed as a write off you should make sure it has been thoroughly inspected to repair any damage you were not yet aware of.  Also, you need to tell your insurance company as your policy could be declared null if you don’t.  Sometimes the cost of insuring a write off can be prohibitive so think carefully and do lots of serious checking before you buy.