Some drivers are buying cheap second-hand cars only to find out they were previously car insurance write-offs.
The main problems are category D cars that were repaired after an insurer wrote the vehicle off as too expensive to repair.
Although category D is less of a problem than the other write-off categories (A,B,C and F) at some time, the vehicle has probably suffered damage in an accident that an assessor figured was too expensive to repair when compared to the overall value of the car.
Hopefully, anyone driving a category D write-off has had assurances that the car was professionally repaired and tested – if not a reputable and qualified mechanic should check the car out ASAP.
If you knowingly buy a category D car, the seller should hand over documentation to prove the vehicle is safe and roadworthy.
When arranging car insurance, the owner must tell the insurer and provide the document pack – if not the insurance company may decide not to pay out if a later claim is made and the car turns out to be a former write-off.
Giveaway terms in the advert for that second-hand bargain include ‘reconditioned’ and ‘rebuilt’.
About 500,000 cars are written-off as too costly to repair by insurance companies every year.
Industry insiders estimate about 650,000 of these vehicles are currently on the roads.
The levels of damage for write-offs are:
Category A – Scrap – the car is too badly damaged to repair
Category B – Reclaim the parts because the body is beyond repair
Category C – Too much damage to repair and should not go on the road without a DVLA inspection
Category D – The damage is not as bad as a Category C write-off, but the insurer has decided against paying for repairs.
Category F – The vehicle has suffered fire damage and the insurer has decided against repairs
Driving a hard bargain to secure that deal might turn not turn out as money well spent if the car was a write-off and some crooks have cloned the paperwork and vehicle identity.