We know seeing a ‘written off’ warning your vehicle history report can be worrisome. You may be wondering if you should walk away from this used car. We want to help you understand the ins and outs of this warning from the Motor Insurance Anti Fraud & Theft Register (MIAFTR), so we’ll talk about the two results you can get and their impact:
- Pass - You can breathe a sigh of relief. This means the car hasn’t been written off and is likely roadworthy. This doesn’t mean it’s never been in an accident. If you’re concerned the car may have been involved in an accident that wasn’t reported to the insurer, you can request a mechanic look it over to ensure there’s no hidden damage. You can see a passing result here.
- Fail - You’ll need to proceed with caution. Getting a failing result means the car has been damaged and either isn’t deemed repairable or the cost of repairing it is more than the car value. Written off warnings never get removed, so if the seller claims this damage has been repaired and the car is roadworthy, it’s best to get the opinion of a qualified mechanic. The category provided in the warning will provide you with more info about what happened to it. An example of a failing result is here.
What Happens If You Buy a Written Off Car?
First, it might not be roadworthy. You might not be able to insure it at all, or if you can, your premiums may be more expensive than usual. While dealers should advise you if a car is written off, it’s important to get your own vehicle history check done for peace of mind. Often, cars that have been written off are offered at a 25-30% discount against value, but you might not end up saving at all once your insurance or further repair costs are tallied.
What Are the Different Write Off Categories?
If your car report fails due to a write-off, there are four possible categories. The labels changed a while ago, but you might see C or D still in the market.
- Category A - Essentially, this car is rubbish. It’s good only for scrap and not roadworthy. You should not buy a Category A car unless you’re going to scrap it. It’s not even legally good for parts.
- Category B - This is also a scrap car, but there is the option to use parts from the vehicle. It’s just not roadworthy and the body must be scrapped. No amount of repair will make it legally drivable.
- Category S or C - This car has suffered a large amount of damage but it could be professionally repaired, certified and subsequently driven. However, if the insurance company wrote it off, the cost of repairs might far outweigh the value of the car.
- Category N or D - This is the least serious damage as it’s all cosmetic, but as with Category S, the insurance company didn’t find the cost to value ratio worth the repairs. So, while it is certainly possible to repair a category N, it may not be economical to do so.
Should you buy a written-off car?
First, it depends on what you want to do with it. If you’re buying a Category B, S or N for parts to repair a project car, it could make sense for you. If you’re hoping to drive it, you’ll need to get a quote for professional repairs (and in the case of S/C an MOT). Then, you can determine if it makes sense to invest once you know all the added costs. Not all insurers will even want to cover you once the repairs are made and it could be more costly than normal, so it’s a good idea to check with them too, before purchasing.