As used car values tumble and the credit crunch bites, buyers need to be aware of the term ‘Insurance write-off’ as recent reports suggest a significant rise in vehicle write-offs in the last 5-10 years which will only continue to grow in current conditions. The report suggests that the number of annual total losses confirmed by insurance companies has risen by more than 80% since 1988. What does this mean to the consumer?, well it certainly means that there is a greater possibility of buying a write-off which could be a potential death trap! According to HPI 8% of vehicles are being recorded as a category A or B write-off, which should have been crushed and never used again on the road. An unsuspecting buyer could easily be attracted to a shiny car with a must-buy price but this can often mean that a car has sustained hidden damage. Also 92% of written-off vehicles checked are recorded as catagory c or d, which means that an insurer may have decided the cost of repair is too great but the car can be road legal if checked and or repaired by an independent expert.
The problem is however that these cars can be virtually worthless today compared with a non damaged example which will only be indentified when a customer comes to trade the car in. Our advice would be to ensure that the dealer you buy your car from can provide written documentation that the vehicle is free from any major accident damage resulting in any form of insurance write-off and if buying privately its worth paying a fee to one of the companies who specialise in providing data on all used cars such as HPI or Experian which are favoured by the motor trade. See below for clarification of write-offs:
Category A: Scrap only- the vehicle should be scrapped and never be allowed back on the road, also if severely fire damaged and insurer decides against repair.
Category B: The body shell of the car should be scrapped but the car can be broken for non affected spare parts.
Category C: The vehicle has been severely damaged and the insurer has decided not to have it repaired. It should be inspected by an approved independent inspector before being allowed back on the road.
Category D: The vehicle has not been severely damaged but the insurer has decided not to repair it, however it can be repaired and still be road legal.
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