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What is a write off?

Over 500,000 cars in the UK are 'written off' as a result of road accidents by insurance companies every year. A write off (or total loss) is a term used by the insurance industry to denote a vehicle that has been damaged in an accident that is 'beyond economic repair'. This means that the total costs of the parts and labour to restore the vehicle to it's 'pre-accident' condition exceed it's current market value. Even if the repair costs do initially appear to be economically viable, other costs such as a temporary hire vehicle, may also be taken into account which may once again, make the repairs un-economic.

Any vehicle that is considered to be a write off by an insurance company following an accident is then referred to as 'salvage'. The vehicle then becomes classified in the following way:-
  • Category A means that the vehicle must be crushed. If as a result of the accident, the vehicle is burnt out or suffer severe water damage, then no part of it must be broken for spares or re-sold. The whole vehicle must be crushed.

  • Category B means that the vehicle must not be repaired and returned to the road, but it can be broken up and the parts re-sold.

  • Category C means that the accident has caused such severe damage that it cannot be repaired economically at dealer rates. It can be sold for repair but it must pass a 'Vehicle Identity Check' (see below) inspection and be re-registered with the DVLA before being legally permitted back on the road.

  • Category D means the vehicle was repairable but the insurer did not consider it viable, possibly due to hire car costs or other factors. The vehicle will not need a Vehicle Identity Check to be permitted back on the road.

What is a Vehicle Identity Check?

The Vehicle Identity Check was introduced to help prevent criminals who try to disguise stolen vehicles by using the identities of vehicles that have already been written off. When a vehicle is written off in an accident, the insurer will notify the DVLA who will then put a VIC 'marker' on the vehicles record. The DVLA will not issue a new registration certificate for the vehicle until it has been inspected and the VIC marker removed.

Removal of the VIC marker does not necessarily mean the vehicle is safe to drive on the road however, the owner will need to get a separate inspection in order to do this.

If you have been involved in a car accident and would like further advice, please give us a call us on 0845 6768898 or complete our online claim form and one of our experienced advisors will be happy to help.
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