If your car has been written off after a collision, it’s essential to understand what it means, why it has been declared, the different types of write-offs, and what you need to do next.
What does a write-off mean?
An insurance write-off, or total loss as it’s commonly known, happens when your vehicle is assessed after a collision and determined to be ‘uneconomic to repair’.
It can be declared a write-off if the cost of repairs exceeds the market value of the car.
What are the different categories of insurance write-offs?
There are four different categories of insurance write-offs: Category A, Category B, Category S and Category N.
Category A write-off
If your car has been classed as a Category A write-off, it means your vehicle is so severely damaged that it can never be back on the road and needs to be crushed.
Everything, even parts that can be salvaged, should be destroyed in a Category A write-off.
Category B write-off
If your car is judged to be a Category B write-off, it means that it has suffered significant damage.
Some parts may be salvaged, but the body shell should be crushed and never return to the road.
Category S write-off (previously known as Category C)
A Category S write-off means that although your car can be repaired, the insurance company thinks the cost of repair ultimately exceeds the car’s market value.
Unlike Category A and B write-offs, Category S write-offs can appear back on the road.
Usually, Category S write-offs are sold by either the driver or insurer at auctions or to salvage yards or repair garages.
Category N write-off (previously called Category D)
If your car has been declared a Category N write-off, it means that your vehicle is repairable.
Still, insurers will decide whether it’s financially feasible to repair it if the cost of repairs outweighs the market value of the car.
What comes next after my car is declared a write-off?
If your car is written off, you are entitled to the market value of a similar vehicle.
It is your right to get a car of a similar age and condition at the time of the accident.
The value is usually based on publicly available information.
What if I disagree with the write-off determination?
If you disagree with the write-off declaration, you or your representatives can obtain an independent valuation of your vehicle based on both its pre and post-accident value.
You also have the right to retain ownership and possession of what is known as the ‘salvage’ of the vehicle.
However, in most cases, you may not wish to do so.
You should not store a car which has been written-off at your own property due to the Health and Safety and legal risks involved.
Instead, the vehicle should be placed in secure and appropriate storage and disposed of as soon as possible.
The at-fault party will generally be responsible for the costs associated with storing of the vehicle, and it is good practice to confirm with them that they do not wish to inspect the car.
Help, I need a temporary replacement car!
Do you need a temporary replacement car after an accident?
If so, you are entitled to one that is equivalent to your vehicle (for example, similar in size, type, number of doors and engine capacity).
Your vehicle, your choice: Your rights after a collision that wasn’t your fault
After being involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, remember that it is your choice how you proceed.
It is your choice whether you have your car fixed, who fixes it and how, as well as the funding of repairs.
A replacement car should be on the same terms on which you are permitted to drive your own (but with a zero excess in respect of all liability, for example, theft and damage waivers).
If your car is damaged but repairable and still legally roadworthy, you may be able to hire a replacement vehicle.
It is the responsibility of the other driver under the law to put you back into the position you would have been in had the accident not occurred.
What should I do if the other driver or their insurer contacts me?
The Courts have said that the insurer for the at-fault party should NEVER call you to offer to help with your vehicle repairs or provide a replacement vehicle.
This also applies to text messages and offers to settle personal injury or other claims.
Neither your insurer, the other driver, nor their insurance company can insist on how you reinstate yourself to your pre-accident condition.
You may be contacted by one of those parties offering to help you, but it is your choice how you wish to proceed.
JMK Solicitors are Northern Ireland’s Number 1 Personal Injury Specialists. With a team of over 80 people including a team of personal injury experts, we assist clients all over Northern Ireland. If you have suffered a personal injury, been in a road traffic accident, had an accident at work or suffered a medical accident, contact our team for a free consultation.
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