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What is a vehicle 'write-off'?


If your car is in an accident or stolen and recovered, then your motor insurer will make an assessment of the damage. They will then consider the cost of the repair against the (then) value of the vehicle. If the cost of the repair is more than the value of the vehicle then the insurer may choose to 'write-off' the vehicle as an uneconomic loss. 


Some 'write-offs' will end up at the scrap yard. However, some vehicles can be repaired and put back on the road. Because of this, insurers assign different 'write-off' codes to a vehicle, in order to indicate what can be done with the vehicle in question. What is a vehicle 'write off'?


Vehicle write-off codes are determined by the ABI (Association of British Insurers). Up to October 2017, four codes were provided to indicate the severity of the damage. These were A, B, C, and D. 


In October 2017 these codes were modified slightly. The emphasis was moved from merely to the cost of the potential repair to highlight structural issues and safety. 



Vehicle write off codes - what they mean


Category A - The most severe category issued. Any vehicle written off with this code MUST be scrapped. No parts from this vehicle are safe to salvage either. Every part of this vehicle cannot appear back on the road. 


Category B - This signifies major bodywork damage that means the bodyshell needs to be crushed. Other parts from the vehicle my be salvageable and can be used on other roadgoing vehicles. 


Category S (formerly C before October 2017) - This means the vehicle has suffered structural damage that is repairable. This could be panel damage, chassis damage, or a collapse of a crumple zone. Written off vehicles in this category can be professionally and safely repaired.


Category N (formerly D before October 2017). This is the least severe level of 'write-off'. Vehicles designated with this code may not have any cosmetic damage at all, it could be electrical or mechanical issues that have seen the insurer write off the vehicle. 


Some Category N cars are safe to drive, even before a repair is carried out. But, do not assume this is the case. You need to ensure the vehicle has been assessed as safe before you take it back on the road again. 



Vehicle 'write-offs' and GAP Insurance



Of course, the main reason for getting GAP Insurance is to protect yourself against financial loss, if your motor insurer 'writes-off' the vehicle. 


It does not matter which category of write off your motor insurer assigns to your vehicle. As long as they do confirm it is a write-off AND they pay the market value in a settlement, that is all you need to make your GAP claim. 


Also, we are often asked if we can provide GAP Insurance for vehicles' that have already been written off. 


The simple answer is 'no'. 


Vehicles' that have already been written off have uncertain value. Because of this GAP Insurance underwriters may expect motor insurers to cover far less than the equivalent value of a 'non-write off'. These uncertainties mean valuing the vehicle is difficult. Because of this, we have never seen a GAP Insurance underwriter who will cover a vehicle that is already written off.