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Insuring a previously written-off car
If you own a car that has been previously declared an insurance write-off under either Category C, Category D or (since October 2017) Category N or Category S meaning that the vehicle has been damaged and repaired following an accident, theft or other insurance claim, it is possible that you may have made a healthy saving on the purchase price of the second-hand vehicle when compared to a vehicle of the same make and model but which is not classified as either Category C or Category D.
Insuring a written-off car is however quite straightforward, despite the vehicle potentially having sustained significant damage. Assuming that the car has been MOT'd (if it is more than 3 years old) since the repair or that you have evidence that the car has been correctly repaired if it is less than 3 years old, then the insurance scheme available through QuoteRack brokers means that you can insure your damaged and repaired vehicle in the same way as any other car.
"For Category C and Category D vehicles, it is important for owners to ensure that they declare the 'written off' status of their car to their insurers when first insuring the vehicle, as failure to do so may invalidate their insurance cover"
Generally speaking, Category C damage is likely to be quite signficant, making the cost of repairing the car more expensive than the cost of paying out the market value of the car to its unfortunate owner; category D damage is likely to be more superficial, i.e. not structural, but an insurer chooses not to pay to have the car repaired, perhaps because it was stolen and not recovered until after the theft claim had been settled.
"Categories C and D are being replaced by new classifications of Cat S and Cat N respectively"
Taking all of these factors into account, it is understandable why the idea appeals of buying and insuring an insurance write-off under either Category C or Category D.
What are the various write-off categories?
The insurance industry uses seven basic levels when referring to accidental damage to cars and vans, known as categories A, B, C, D, F, N and S.
Category F is reserved for fire-damaged cars.
Category A refers to a vehicle that is too damaged for any purpose, even to be sold for spares or scrap, and needs to be crushed.
Category B and Category C cars will still have significant damage and an insurance company has decided that they are considered unsuitable for repairs, owing to the extent of the damage. Category C cars may be repaired and then put back on the road, subject to notifying DVLA.
Category D damage is considered to be (relatively) light but the insurer has decided that owing to the cost of parts and the repairs, it is uneconomical to proceed with the repair of the car and it therefore effectively declares it a 'total loss', or 'write off' as it is more commonly known.
Category N damage is considered to be significant but non-structural ('N') and might include minor cosmetic damage, broken mechanical parts or cracked glass. The insurer has decided that owing to the cost of parts and the repairs, it is uneconomical to proceed with the repair of the car and it therefore effectively declares it a 'total loss' but the vehicle is still capable of being repaired. 'Cat N' will eventually 'Cat D'.
Category S damage is considered to be structural ('S') but professionally repairable. 'Cat S' will eventually replace 'Cat C'.
Important - Changes to the Vehicle Identity Check requirements from 26th October 2015
From 26th October 2015 drivers returning a written-off car to a roadworthy condition following an accident will no longer need to apply for a Vehicle Identity Check (VIC). Motorists will still be required to ensure their vehicle is roadworthy and has an MOT test certificate before returning it to the road.
From 26th October 2015 DVLA will no longer issue V5C’s for Category A and B vehicles. From the same date and for category C vehicles with previous VIC markers, VIC tests will no longer be required for a motorist to get a replacement V5C, which will be issued free of charge after 26th October 2015.
Category C, D, N and S Insurance - resources
How can I check if a car has a VIC marker?
You can make an online enquiry via the DVLA's own Vehicle Enquiry Service.
The Government's official classification of damaged vehicles
The full list of write-off categories are shown on HM Government's website
Should you buy a Cat N car?
Some useful tips about buying a category N write-off.
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"Form V5C (the vehicle's 'log book' document) will not be reissued for vehicles that have sustained Category A or Category B damage. You can still apply for a replacement V5C document for Category C and Category D damaged and repaired vehicles."
"From October 2017, Cat C and Cat D are being replaced by Cat S and Cat N respectively - although similar, there are slight differences."