The question, what is a write-off, is asked time and again to our customer service team. In short, if a vehicle has been involved in an accident or theft and sustained material damage to its condition it may be declared a ‘write off’ or ‘total loss’ by an insurer.
Besides this there are over 100,000 write-offs recorded by Irish insurers every year and another 30,000 cases of theft.
Having been classed as a ‘Write-off’ doesn’t necessarily mean that the vehicle is not road worthy. In addition, you will need to know what category of ‘Write-off’ the vehicle has been given and satisfy yourself that any repairs made were performed to the correct standards. Having a qualified Engineer inspect the car and issue a certificate of road worthiness is an important part of checking the cars mechanical condition and of course the price you pay for it should reflect the fact that it has once been classed as a ‘Write-off’.”
To help answer the question 'What is a write-off?' we have outlined each of the different categories of write-off below.
The vehicle is considered to be Scrap only – this vehicle should be crushed. It should never reappear on the road and there are no economically salvageable parts. It is of value only for scrap metal – e.g. a totally burnt-out vehicle.
The bodyshell should be crushed. The vehicle should never reappear on the road, but it can be broken for spare parts plus any residual scrap metal.
The vehicle has been extensively damaged and insurer has decided not to repair. The vehicle may be repaired and put back on the road. In the UK a vehicle has to pass an inspection costing £36 (2007 price) to be re-registered as damaged repaired. In Ireland MotorCheck offers a pre-purchase inspection that examines a used car under 123 separate headings. Click here for more.
The vehicle has been damaged and insurer has decided not to repair. In the UK when this vehicle has been repaired it can re-registered as ‘damaged repaired’.
The vehicle has been structurally damaged and is repairable. (Introduced 1st Oct 2017 to replace Category C - See note below)
The vehicle has been non-structurally damaged and is repairable. (Introduced 1st Oct 2017 to replace Category D - See note below)
The vehicle has been damaged by fire and insurer has decided not to repair. In the UK when this vehicle has been repaired it can re-registered as ‘damaged repaired’.
The vehicle has been reported stolen and is unrecovered. Therefore at this time there is no Category Loss damage associated with the reported theft.
The vehicle has been reported stolen and has been recovered. There may or may not be specific Category Loss damage associated with the reported theft. If there is Category Loss damage associated with the reported theft this will be reported separately as Category A, B, C, D, S or N damage.
In October 2017 the Association Of British Insurers (ABI) in the UK amended their code of practice to introduce new categories of write-off. These effectively keep Category A and B as they are and replace Category C and D with Category S and N write-offs, as follows:
S: Structurally damaged repairable
N: Non-structurally damaged repairable