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If you’ve ever struggled to make sense of the different car damage classifications in the UK, you’re far from in the minority

What Do the Various Car Damage Classifications Mean?

UK Car Finance
26, Sep 2019

As it’s the kind of thing most motorists will never have to deal with directly, it’s far from common knowledge.

In any instance where a vehicle is damaged in an accident to such a point that the repair costs would exceed the value of the vehicle, the car will be ‘written off’.  This means that it is no longer safe to drive in its current condition and would cost more to repair than it would to replace the vehicle outright.

Nevertheless, cars that are written off may fall within one of four primary damage classifications – Category A, Category B, Category N and Category S. Detailed below, you’ll find a little more information on what each of these damage classifications means:

Category A Cars

A damaged vehicle falls within Category A if the damage is so severe and extensive that it is impossible to salvage any part of the vehicle. In which case, the car and all its components will be scrapped and recycled, at which point the owner (in accordance with their insurance) will receive a payment equivalent to the value of the vehicle before the accident.  

Category B Cars

Write-offs within Category B apply to cars that are extensively damaged to such an extent that the car cannot be used again, therefore needs to be scrapped. It’s the same case of the owner receiving a payment equivalent to the pre-accident value of the car, though in this instance it may be possible to reclaim various components that are still in a useable condition. These components can be used elsewhere or sold on, prior to the vehicle being scrapped.  

Category S Cars

Damaged vehicles that fall within this category have major structural issues and are therefore considered unsafe to drive and uneconomical to repair. However, it is technically possible to repair the vehicle and put it back into use. Despite the fact that the car has technically been written off, the owner may still have the opportunity to have it repaired or buy it back once the necessary repairs have been carried out.

Category N Cars

With Category N, there is no specific structural damage to the vehicle, but there are nonetheless issues or complications that render repairs uneconomical. This will usually be established on the basis of total repair costs exceeding 50% of the value of the vehicle, incorporating cosmetic damage, issues with braking/steering systems and so on. The insurance company pays the owner the vehicle’s value prior to the accident, after which the owner has the opportunity to organise the necessary repairs and get their vehicle back on the road, should they wish to do so.

Ask Your Insurer

It’s important to note that most insurers have their own unique approach to dealing with write-offs. As a result, it’s important to contact your insurer directly to know where you stand.

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