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If you have a car written-off by an insurance company, don’t think the cheque arriving in the post will be enough for you to replace your old car. Time and time again, motorists find that the cash offered by their insurer falls well short of their vehicle valuation. The result is the cash only pays for a cheaper car and the car insurance pay out does not put the motorists back in the same financial position as prior to the incident that caused the write-off. The problem seems to be that increasingly motorists trust their insurers to do the right thing after a crash, but the insurer seems to look at every possibility available to avoid making a pay out.
The insurer will consider every dent, scuff and scratch inside and out to argue the cost of replacement down. The best way to counter the offer is to scour the locality for a similar car for sale that has clocked up the same mileage. If the price is higher than the insurer’s offer, send photos and details of where the car is on show so the in surer can reassess their valuation. If the local price of a similar car is higher, but the insurance company still does not accept their offer should be increased, consider an independent assessment.
Several garages and motoring organisations, like the AA and RAC, will send out an independent expert to value a car for a small fee. If someone tells you they’ve written-off their car, you can safely assume they’ve been involved in a fairly major incident – vehicle beyond repair, fit only for scrap, that level of magnitude. But if you hear of a car being written-off by an insurance company, there’s a reasonable chance the car isn’t the twisted tangle of metal you might have envisaged. Insurance companies are within their rights to write off a car even if it has suffered only relatively minor damage, perhaps a few scratches to the paintwork or a small dent.
If your car is involved in an accident and you put in a claim, an insurance assessor or engineer will normally come and inspect the damage. The assessor follows strict criteria, but could judge your car to be a write-off if it is beyond ‘economical’ repair. If this is the case, your insurer will offer a payout in the event of a write off, which should be enough to replace your car with a similar vehicle in a similar condition in your area. Category A is the most serious and means the car is fit only for scrap and should never again be driven. A category B write-offs is a vehicle that has suffered extensive damage and should never again be driven on the road, although some parts can be salvaged.
A category C is given to vehicles that could be repaired, in theory, but the cost would exceed the value of the vehicle.
Category D is a write-off are where the vehicle could be repaired but the costs are deemed too high relative to the vehicle’s value. The Association of British Insurers’ Salvage Code dictates that Category A and Category B cars are broken up for spares and the body shells crushed.
Category D write-offs tend to be the most contentious – this is where insurers can write off cars if they think the repairs are too costly relative to the value of the car. Different companies use different repair to value ratios, and you should be able to find out the figure from your own insurer. The repair-to-value calculation can result in what can seem surprising write-offs when the damage to a car is not particularly serious. For instance, you might have reversed into your neighbour’s wall, scratching the paintwork on your car. Insurers are sometimes a bit sneaky and offer low valuations, so you could consider the first offer they make to be a starting point in negotiations.
Before you consider any offer, look up prices for similar vehicles in motor trade guides, as well as browsing the local dealers. If you don’t think the insurer’s offer is a realistic reflection of the car’s value, contact the firm and use the evidence to back up your claim. You can also include information on the service history and anything else that is likely to have an impact on the value. Don’t forget that the payout is based on the value of the car immediately before the accident so you should not expect to receive the price you originally paid for the car. In some circumstances you may be able to buy back your car from the insurer after it has been written off, but you need to let your insurer know you want to do this at the earliest possible opportunity. Once a settlement figure has been agreed, the insurer takes ownership of the vehicle, which means it now has this asset it needs to somehow get rid of – in this instance, you buying it back could offer the perfect solution for both parties. And stay in contact  with your insurer throughout the entire claim process keep them informed of your interest to buy, then it’s down to you to negotiate the best deal you can. If the offer is well below the car’s market value you’ll need to go back to your insurer with this evidence and explain why you don’t think the offer is a fair reflection of the car’s value and come to a compromise on price. If the insurer’s market value looks to be right and the price difference is due to high interest repayments on the car finance, you’ll have to take this up with the finance company and come to an arrangement. Alternatively, if the finance company is happy for you to use the insurance money to buy a replacement car and keep up the usual finance repayments, that could be another option. If you do get a new car, it’s worth taking out gap insurance to cover any shortfall between the price you paid for the car and its current market value. If the insurer won’t budge on the size of the value it will pay, you can take your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), which is free and independent. The FOS upholds about 50% of consumer complaints, so it’s often worth a try if you think you’ve got a valid case.
WHO can write off a car as a category C write off – the car owner’s insurer or just any insurer ? If someone is in a not-at-fault accident and their car is damaged, the at-fault driver’s insurance company might declare the car a write-off and make a cash settlement to the other driver through their insurance company.
Anyone whose car is written off can challenge the amount the insurer offers, but they’ll have to get evidence to back up their valuation.


My car haste been declared a write off Cat C, but I bought the car back and having it repaird and MOT tested, do you know who else I would have to inform of this? Once you have agreed on the write off price, how long does it take (grace period) for the insurer to pay???? Has anyone heard of a insurance company immediately without argument basing the right off value at what is top retail in Glasses or Cap guides ? I’ve discovered that my Jaguar S-Type R is falsely recorded as a Cat C write off by an insurance company on 10th September 2012. No beggar seems willing to tell me which insurer wrote it off and who the alleged owner was who was paid for it. I was just wondering how you got on with the above, I have just come across the same thing. I too went through a similar procedure, thankfully i did my homework before talking to the people who had dealt with evaluating my car after my accident.
I bought my classic car in 2007 it was being restored and took delivery in 2008 I paid 36000 for it and have had several upgrades, the value is now 60000 and my insurance company (same broker, Carol Nash) tell me it was declared a category B in 2003 and should not be on the road. It's up to you to adjust your speed for the conditions – up to and including not driving at all. Recently, we dealt with the ins and outs of dealing with your insurance company and body-repair centre after a collision.
Many drivers are usually surprised when a collision results in the total loss of a vehicle. A pickup truck lies sideways in the snow after it was struck by a train near Birch Run, Mich.
The process for determining the current value of a vehicle is pretty much the same whether dealing with a private or public insurer. If you can’t reach an agreement with your insurance company, all have some type of arbitration or mediation process. We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles using Facebook commenting Visit our FAQ page for more information.
All vehicles that are written off are put in to one of four categories by the Association of British Insurers (ABI), depending on the level of its condition.
If a car is written-off by an insurance company, a VIC marker is placed against the DVLA record.
Break for spare parts if economically viable.  These vehicles should not reappear on the road. Repairable total loss vehicles where repair costs exceed the vehicle’s pre-accident value. Repairable total loss vehicles where repair costs do not exceed the vehicle’s pre-accident value. The HPI Check includes a mileage check against the National Mileage Register as standard, now with over 200 million mileage readings.
To see our content at its best we recommend upgrading if you wish to continue using IE or using another browser such as Firefox, Safari or Google Chrome. Fancy a year-old Mercedes E350 for A?13,500; a 2012 Ford Kuga with six miles on the clock for A?11,100 or a 2008 Land Rover Discovery for A?375?
Somewhere in the policy small print is a clause that say that not only should a replacement value be ‘like for like’ but the comparison should be with a similar local vehicle as well. A motorist and the insurer should both agree to stand by the result – but if the price comes in lower than expected, the motorist not only loses the argument but the assessment fee as well. The insurance company might offer a settlement of ?10,000, less the excess of ?300, to give you ?9,700.
They can then be repaired and put back on the road, as long as they pass a Vehicle Identity Check with the DVLA where necessary. For example, if your car is worth ?4,000 and the repair-to-value ratio is 50%, the car would be written off if it would cost more than ?2,000 to repair. It might not look too bad, but if the repair involves the removal of panels, the cost could mount up, causing the insurer to declare the car a total loss.
That is absolutely impossible as we bought it 2 years old in 2009, have owned it ever since, and it has never been involved in an accident, much less written off. This is clearly either a serious admin error or insurance fraud, and I need to get to the bottom of it. Upon talking to them they didn’t ask me whether i wanted to buy back the car but i took the risk and asked them whether it would be possible.
I’m in a similar position, had accident where I was not at fault and third party insurance have called me confirming this. Damages may appear slight or cosmetic and owners fully expect to have the vehicle taken to a body shop for a quick restoration before getting back on the road.
They take the current value of the vehicle, less what a recycler or salvage yard will pay for the scrap, to arrive at a number. They use third-party resources to compare sales transactions of vehicles that are a match to yours.
If you’ve added a super sound system, you may be able to get it back for your next ride (if you have the original system to return to the vehicle).
Private companies are motivated to keep customers happy during these disputes, so their settlement review processes receive relatively few complaints. The categories include cars that are instructed to be either scrapped or broken down for parts because the damage is too severe for repair and should never be allowed back on the road again (Category A or B); or cars that can be repaired and returned to the road, but are not economically viable to do so, so are recommended to be scrapped (Category C and D). Unscrupulous sellers patch up total loss vehicles and sell them on to unsuspecting buyers for a quick profit. Armed with this information the buyer is able to negotiate a realistic price for the car, whether it’s been repaired or not.


HPI also confirms whether a vehicle is currently recorded as stolen with the police, has outstanding finance against it or has been written-off, making it the best way for consumers to protect themselves from fraudsters looking to make a fast profit. In fact it has hardly been off our garden since 2011 because my wife has septicaemia and couldn’t get into it. If my wife had known it was repairable she would have bought it back but was not told this at the time.
They said yes and offered me a settlement price which would help to fund the repairs that need to be done to the car.
I contacted my insurer who offered to have my claim against the other driver’s insurance handled by Albany Assistance. If the repair estimate is close to, or over that amount, then the vehicle is declared a total loss. They do not use prices advertised by retailers or private sellers as those numbers represent asking prices not transaction prices. Some companies actually take the time and effort to ask for this information from their clients before finalizing the settlement.
In cases such as these, most insurance companies will pay the settlement value, less what a salvage yard or recycler would pay for the wreck. In addition, the HPI Check offers a ?30,000 Guarantee* in the event of the information it provides being inaccurate, offering added financial peace of mind to used car buyers. The salvage industry has a shady reputation but, realising that wasn't good for business, some of its more reputable outfits formed the British Vehicle Salvage Federation (BVSF) in 1998.
They called after 3 weeks of us thinking it was getting fixed to tell me that they were totaling it and that I could buy it back for 300.00.
It went to one of their repair garages, but the engineer declared it an economical write off, so I suspect minor repairs. In some cases, large demands for used parts on popular models can drive up prices paid by recyclers. The salvage value can be considerable, so payouts can be drastically less than allowing the insurance company to take ownership of the vehicle. When researching vehicle values, pay attention to the geographic location of the price quotes. But proving the adage that things that appear too good to be true usually are, all these cars are insurance write-offs.
A good example of how this works can be found by examining the area of an impacted vehicle, opposite to where it was hit.  For example if the left front corner was crumpled, take a look at the right rear door, quarter panel or trunk lid, paying attention to the spaces between the panels. Insurance companies are always wary of repair cost overruns, so they like to include a “comfort margin” in their calculations. As well, every jurisdiction in Canada has very restrictive regulations when it comes to restoring a vehicle for use on the road after it has been branded a total loss; therefore this option is rarely exercised. Used vehicle prices can vary widely between provinces and between large and small urban centres. Most insurers like to sell the car back to the owners to save costs on salvaging if the car is repairable.
Does the engineer work for the other insurance company (i.e not my claim managers or repair garage who should be beneifting me??) Can I demand to see a report to see what damage is?
You’ll often find that the gaps have widened or narrowed, sometimes to the point that doors and trunk lids are hard to open and close. There are usually few arguments between insurance companies and their clients on this point.
So if you’re in a negative equity position on your vehicle (you owe more than it’s worth), don’t expect a collision to get you out of the hole. After all, would you really want to have a vehicle repaired and returned to you that was within a whisker of being written off?
Can I negotiate a price from the other insurer through my supposed claim manager for an equivalent price of what it cost me to buy this vcar only a few months ago?
If I do’n agree can I still get compensation price for being left without car and buy back car for fraction of price to repair (using money they pay for compensation)??
Then you start work on it and find a hidden and major problem such as a cracked gearbox bellhousing. They wrote the car off but he bought it back, Initially the money seemed great but later he had to take a day off work and make a 100 mile round trip to VOSA for an inspection. For enthusiasts and professionals with low labour costs, and perhaps using second-hand parts, it can be viable to put that car back on the road. So you need mechanical knowledge whether it's your own or hired, and you should inspect a prospective purchase in the metal rather than relying on internet pictures. I would have to pay out of pocket to get it fixed then apply for a R title and be without a car while getting fixed. I pay for my insurance to ensure that if an accident happens not my fault, I get a car back in same condition, etc, surely??
If the car you're rejecting isn't any of these, write a letter to the dealer principal stating which part of the Sale of Goods Act you're invoking. Reject it after six months and you must prove it wasn't of satisfactory quality when you took delivery. So instead of watching that car depreciate on the drive, letting its battery go flat and forking out on a hire car when the weather turns wintery, I've got some more relevant advice. Spend five minutes checking your own car's tyres, invest in a new battery if needed and make sure you carry essentials such as a shovel and blanket.



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