Cars are complicated at the best of times. They are engineering and mechanical marvels, but one of their biggest flaws as a result of that is how much can go wrong. Worse still is how much that can cost. When you insure your car and the worst happens, in many cases, the cost to fix your car is just too much to justify. That’s when it’s time to look at insurance write-offs, and what is a write off, more specifically.
Hopefully, this is something you never really need to learn about completely. It’s more of a blanket term that can mean a lot of things, and in an ideal world, it’s all stuff that will never happen. To help give you the peace of mind it has or ever does, however, we’re here to answer the question of what is a write off, and what does it really mean.
Let’s take a look.
What is a Write off?
Let’s start by going from the top. The very basics of what a write off is comes from your insurance company. The idea is that when you have an accident, no matter who is at fault, in many cases, it can be an expensive job to put right. Different things can happen to your car after all. Whatever it is, a car can be a write off for any reason, and it all comes down to cost.
That’s all when and good but keeping it to the very minimum of what is a write off, it comes down to this. A write off is a car with enough damage to mean it is not worth the cost to repair and make road legal in the eyes of the insurer. That’s it in a nutshell.
What classes as a Write Off?
We’ve already touched on what a write off is, but it’s also time to what can actually happen in the process. A write off can happen for a load of different reasons, after all, ranging from the tiny things that are too complex through to the massive that are near the impossible. It’s a broad spectrum. That can include anything like a crash damaging your bodywork all the way through to even having serious engine issues that happen naturally over time.
For an issue to be big enough to actually be classed as a write off in the first place, there are some rough guidelines you can use. It generally refers to anything that is going to reach close to 75% of the car’s value. That’s the current value of the car, and not when it was new. That means of course that a small run around from 20 years ago many be a write off even at a few hundred pounds, whereas a supercar may be at a few million. It’s a bit of a grey area and it all comes down to a percentage figure. You may be able to buy a new car for the cost of repairing the old one.
What Happens to the Car?
Believe it or not, but a write off isn’t actually always the end of the story for your car. It’s odd to think since it was deemed too expensive by insurers, but actually, if there is enough of a reason for an external party to buy the car. It can be saved. It depends of course on how bad; we can’t stress that enough.
When this does happen, that’s when different insurance categories are applied to cars. To make the car road legal again, when a write off is repaired, it is allocated to an insurance category. That is CAT A, B, C or D, also known as CAT S & N. all of these have different meanings, and that’s because they all vary in how big the issue was. We have a separate article all about that here.
What happens when you write off a car?
Finally, we need to talk about what happens to you if it ever does happen. You’re the one who is losing your car after all, and that’s a huge thing to go through. It could even have been a life-threatening experience if not just a sad way to part with your car.
If it ever does happen, it does come down a lot to if the fault was yours, someone else’s, or just a part of general wear and tear. There’s no one answer, but typically, you should get a cash payout to put toward a new car after due inspection has taken place to prevent fraud. Sadly, that can take a serious amount of time. Brace yourself. If it wasn’t your fault, then you should see that in a matter of weeks. If it was, it may be open to interpretation, affect your no claims bonus, and even mean you lose the pay-out. That’s in extreme cases though.
Ultimately, your safety is paramount above all else. All of these things come from a real worst-case scenario, and you should always put yourself first. These things can happen to anyone at any time, and they are not always as bad as they sound. It’s advisable to keep an eye on your car as much as possible to protect it and you in the future, but again, these things do happen to the best of people, and it doesn’t have to be a fault of your own.
It is also worth noting at this is a great time to say you should be aware of these write off categories when buying a car too. Always do your homework as a write off on your car can make a big difference to your insurance and your safety. Be careful and think ahead.
Happy driving and stay safe!