13/12/12 Jargon Busting : Insurance Write Offs - Car Inspection Vehicle Inspection Van Inspection - MViUK

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13/12/12 Jargon Busting : Insurance Write Offs

With the worsening standard of driving in the UK car accidents are becoming far too common. A side effect from this, is that more accident damaged vehicles are being repaired and put back on the UK’s roads.

Are you are thinking of buying a car that has an insurance write off marker against it? If so this is a risky business as there seems to be no set scale for damage relating to catagory. There are varying factors an insurance assesor will take into account such as age, mileage, condition and obviously damaged sustained.

When the assessor decides to declare the accident damaged vehicle as s total loss it will be placed into one of six categories or may go un recorded if not put through the insurance as detailed below…

Category A CAT A

Scrap only (i.e. with few or no economically salvageable parts and which is of value only for scrap metal

Category B
Cat b

Break for spare parts if economically viable (excluding any residual scrap value)

(Picture is an example of what we would consider a CAT B)

Salvagable parts would likely include, Engine & Gearbox etc.

Category C

The vehicle has been extensively damaged but is repairable, however the parts and labour would exceed the value of the car. This is becoming a real problem catagory as there are plenty of amateur and professional mechanics who repair these vehicles poorly often leaving them in a dangerous condition.

Category D

Cat D

Repairable total loss vehicle where repair costs do not exceed the vehicle’s pre-accident value. It is a common mis-conception that this grade is issued to vehicles with purely cosmetic damage.

The image I have found was available for sale as a CAT D at the time of writing this. This is horrifying and we would expect this to be a CAT C.

Category F
Cat F
A vehicle damaged by fire, which the insurer has decided not to repair. It must be remembered that due to the intense heat generated from car fires followed by the rapid cooling from putting out the fire can cause the sturcture to become weakened.


Stolen CarThese vehicles have not been recovered and ownership rests with the insurer who made the total loss payment. They are able to repossess the car as soon as it is identified, even if it has been bought innocently.

Unrecorded / Not Recorded    

non recorded


The vehicle is not recorded as being damaged. This could be explained by a number of reasons maybe that the damage sustained was either very minor and did not justify going through insurance or perhaps for some reason the vehicle was not insured and the owner had repaired the damage themselves without declaring it officially. For this reason it is always important to thoroughly inspect any car purchase as it may have sustained very serious damage making it unsafe but will have no marker against it.

Due to the massive influx in cars not being recorded as damaged, its ever more important to get them inspected as you really don’t know what you are buying. Just because its HPi clear does not mean its never been involved in an accident. It could of previously looked like any one of the cars in this article even a CAT A or B. In our opinion if a car has gone un-recorded the damage sustained should be reflected in the price but preferably avoided!

Some interesting facts…

  1. Around 10% of vehicles checked by HPI being recorded as a category A or B write-off – vehicles which should have been crushed and never returned to the road –  the rise of the insurance write-off means that used car buyers face an even greater risk of potentially buying a death trap.
  2. 1 in 3 cars hit HPI’s ‘at risk’ registers with SMMT figures suggesting that the nearly new and secondhand car market is a minefield for buyers.
  3. Over 6.2 million cars on the roads could have had a plate change, if the car parc follows the trend seen by HPI, with 1 in 5 vehicles hitting HPI’s plate change register. This usually reveals an innocent personalised plate, but fraudsters can use a change of plates to hide the identity of a stolen car or an insurance write-off. An HPI Check report matches the vehicle registration number (VRM) with the vehicle’s chassis number (VIN) to make sure they’re registered with each other.
  4. 4 in 100 cars it checked have been declared an insurance write-off

The pictures used are purely for reference only.