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Insurance write off categories

Everything you need to know about write off category vehicles, including whether you can buy or sell a write off and what Cat A, Cat B, Cat S and Cat N mean.

An insurance write-off is a car that’s either sustained so much damage it’s unsafe to go back on the road (Cat A and B), or would cost more to fix than replace (Cat S and N).
If a car is unsafe to drive, the owner will receive a cash payout and the Cat A or Cat B car will be crushed (though parts can be salvaged from a Cat B car). Insurers use a repair-to-value ratio to decide whether a vehicle is "economical to repair". The repair-to-value ratio is usually 50% to 60% of the car's value - so if your car is worth £8,000 and damage exceeds £4,000, it'd be a write-off.
Jump to:
Category A
Category B Category S Category N Category C Category D

What Insurance Category information does Free Trader UK check?

When a seller advertises a vehicle on our website, we use the details sourced from Motor Insurance Anti Fraud and Theft Register (MIAFTR), operated by Insurance Database Services Ltd, to check whether the vehicle is recorded as having been written off. This is done via Experian. We always recommend that you run a full vehicle history check before making an offer on a vehicle.
Category A
Category A

Category A vehicles

What is a Category A vehicle?

Category A — Cat A, for short — is a level of damage used by insurance companies to describe vehicles they have written off.
Cat A is the most severe level of damage. Cat A vehicles may not be advertised on Free Trader UK. Most Cat A vehicles are destroyed and it is a bad idea to buy one offered for sale. A Cat A vehicle will have suffered extreme damage in the past, probably in an accident. The insurance company that handled the claim decided the vehicle could not be repaired. Cat A means the vehicle had no salvageable parts, so most Cat A vehicles are destroyed. However, very occasionally a Cat A vehicle may be returned to its owner, who may subsequently repair it.

Buying a Category A vehicle

Is it safe to buy a Category A vehicle?
No. Cat A indicates the insurer did not believe the vehicle could be adequately repaired.
How can I find out what happened to a Cat A vehicle?
It is hard to find details about what damage the vehicle suffered. You can ask the seller, but they may have a vested interest in underplaying the extent of the damage.
What should I consider before buying a Category A vehicle?
Walk away from any Cat A vehicle, even if it looks like a great deal.
If the vehicle has been repaired, there is a good chance the repairs are inadequate or dangerous. It may be hard to get insurance and almost impossible to sell the vehicle on.

Selling a Category A vehicle

Can I sell my Cat A vehicle to someone else?
There is no law against doing this, although Cat A vehicles can be very difficult to sell on. We do not allow Cat A vehicles to be advertised on Free Trader UK.
I just found out my vehicle is in Category A. What should I do?
It is hard to find details about what damage your vehicle suffered, but many Cat A write-offs suffer structural damage. Even if the vehicle seems sound, there could be problems that are not obvious.
If you plan to continue driving the vehicle, consider getting a professional inspection to be sure it's safe. And let your insurance company know of the vehicle's status. If you don't, your policy could be invalid.
Should the person who sold me the vehicle have said it is in Cat A?
If you bought the vehicle from a dealer then they should have told you its insurance status. You may be able to make a claim against them.
Private sellers do not have to tell you about the Cat A status. If you ask, they must tell you of any problems they know about — but maybe they didn't know either.
I'm sure my vehicle is wrongly recorded as Category A. How do I fix this?
If you’re sure your vehicle shouldn’t be recorded in Cat A, we can investigate this further for you. Email [email protected] together with vehicles details and any comments you may have.
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Category B
Category B

Category B vehicles

What is a Category B vehicle?

Category B — Cat B, for short — is a level of damage used by insurance companies to describe vehicles they have written off.
Cat B is the second most serious level of damage. Cat B vehicles may not be advertised on Free Trader UK. Most Cat B vehicles are destroyed and it is a bad idea to buy one offered for sale. A Cat B vehicle will have suffered serious damage in the past, probably in an accident. The insurance company that handled the claim decided the vehicle could not be repaired. Most Cat B vehicles are destroyed once any usable parts have been removed. However, very occasionally a Cat B vehicle may be returned to its owner, who may subsequently repair it.

Buying a Category B vehicle

Is it safe to buy a Category B vehicle?
Generally, no. Cat B indicates that the insurance company did not believe the vehicle could be adequately repaired.
How can I find out what happened to this vehicle?
It is hard to find details about what damage the vehicle suffered. You can ask the seller, but they may have a vested interest in underplaying the extent of the damage.
What should I consider before buying a Category B vehicle?
Walk away from any Cat B vehicle, even if it looks like a great deal.
If the vehicle has been repaired, there is a good chance the repairs are inadequate or dangerous. It may be hard to get insurance and almost impossible to sell the vehicle on.

Selling a Category B vehicle

Can I sell my Cat B vehicle to someone else?
There is no law against doing this, although Cat B vehicles can be very difficult to sell on. We do not allow Cat B vehicles to be advertised on Free Trader UK.
I just found out my vehicle is in Category B. What should I do?
It is hard to find details about what damage your vehicle suffered, but many Cat B write-offs suffer structural damage. Even if the vehicle seems sound, there could be problems that are not obvious.
If you plan to continue driving the vehicle, consider getting a professional inspection to be sure it's safe. And let your insurance company know of the vehicle's status. If you don't, your policy could be invalid.
Should the person who sold me the vehicle have said it is in Cat B?
If you bought the vehicle from a dealer then they should have told you its insurance status. You may be able to make a claim against them.
Private sellers do not have to tell you about the Cat B status. If you ask, they must tell you of any problems they know about — but maybe they didn't know either.
I'm sure my vehicle is wrongly recorded as Category B. How do I fix this?
If you’re sure your vehicle shouldn’t be recorded in Cat B, we can investigate this further for you. Email [email protected] together with vehicles details and any comments you may have.
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Category S
Category S

Category S vehicles

What is a Category S vehicle?

Category S — Cat S, for short — is a description used by insurance companies to describe the level of damage to a vehicle they have written off.
A Cat S vehicle has specifically suffered damage to its structural frame including its chassis, probably in an accident. The insurance company that handled the claim decided that repairing the vehicle would have cost more than replacing it. Insurers often sell Cat S vehicles on for salvage. Many can be safely repaired and returned to the road.

Buying a Category S vehicle

Is it safe to buy a Category S vehicle?
When a vehicle is described as Cat S, it means it is repairable but the insurer chose not to do so.
If a Cat S vehicle is repaired properly, you can own and drive it safely. However, it's important to check the vehicle's condition carefully before making an offer.
How can I find out exactly what happened to this vehicle?
Ask the seller if they have documentation explaining what happened to the vehicle and what repairs it needed. Be wary of sellers who provide information without documents to back it up. They may have a vested interest in underplaying the damage.
What should I consider before buying a Category S vehicle?
Here are some things to keep in mind:
• A Cat S vehicle is usually worth much less than an identical vehicle that has never been written off. The asking price— and your offer — should reflect this. • Because replacement parts can be expensive, Cat S vehicles are sometimes written off for relatively minor damage. However, it's important to make sure the vehicle has been repaired properly and safely. For instance, an insurer might write a vehicle off because replacing the airbags is expensive. But a less-scrupulous repairer might simply disconnect the airbag warning light before selling the vehicle on. It's hard to spot problems like this yourself, so consider getting a professional inspection to ensure the vehicle is roadworthy and safe. • Although you will pay less to buy a Cat S vehicle, it will fetch a lower amount if you sell it on in future. • Some insurance companies will charge more to cover a vehicle in Cat S and others won't provide cover at all. Check before you buy.

Selling a Category S vehicle

Can I sell my Cat S vehicle to someone else?
Yes. Many buyers know that a well-repaired Cat S vehicle will drive well and prove reliable for years to come. You can advertise Cat S vehicles on Free Trader UK.
When advertising your vehicle, be honest about its status and include as much information as you can about the damage. Buyers will have more confidence if you can document what happened to the vehicle and how it was repaired. A Cat S vehicle is usually worth much less than an identical vehicle that has never been written off, so your asking price should reflect this.
I just found out my vehicle is in Category S. What should I do?
It is hard to find details about what damage the vehicle suffered. Although many Cat S vehicles are repaired to a high standard, some unscrupulous repairers skimp on expensive components that are hard to check, like airbags. It can therefore be a good idea to have your vehicle professionally inspected, to be sure it's safe.
Let your insurance company know the vehicle's status, too. If you don't, your policy could be invalid.
Should the person who sold me the vehicle have said it is in Cat S?
If you bought the vehicle from a dealer then they should have told you its insurance status. If they haven’t informed you of the insurance status should see legal advice about making a claim against them.
Private sellers are not obliged to inform you so make sure you ask about the insurance status, as they must tell you about any problems or issues they are aware of. Ask to see the V5C too, to check details and ensure the vehicle is in their name.
I'm sure my vehicle is wrongly recorded as Category S. How do I fix this?
If you’re sure your vehicle shouldn’t be recorded in Cat S, we can investigate this further for you. Email [email protected] together with vehicles details and any comments you may have.
Will it cost me more to insure a Cat S vehicle?
Some insurers charge more to cover a Cat S vehicle, or may refuse cover altogether. Check with your insurer for full details.
For how long does a vehicle's Cat S status last?
Permanently. Once a vehicle is recorded as Insurance Category S, it remains so forever.
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Category N
Category N

Category N vehicles

What is a Category N vehicle?

Category N — Cat N, for short — is a description used by insurance companies to describe the level of damage to a vehicle they have written off.
A Cat N vehicle has suffered some damage, probably in an accident, but not to its structural frame or chassis. The insurance company that handled the claim decided that repairing the vehicle would have cost more than replacing it. Insurers often sell Cat N vehicles on for salvage. Many are also safely repaired and returned to the road.

Buying a Category N vehicle

Is it safe to buy a Category N vehicle?
When a vehicle is described as Cat N, it means it is repairable but the insurer chose not to do so.
If a Cat N vehicle is repaired properly, you can own and drive it safely. However, it's important to check the vehicle's condition carefully before making an offer.
How can I find out exactly what happened to this vehicle?
Ask the seller if they have documentation explaining what happened to the vehicle and what repairs it needed. Be wary of sellers who provide information without documents to back it up. They may have a vested interest in underplaying the damage.
What should I consider before buying a Category N vehicle?
Here are some things to keep in mind:
• A Cat N vehicle is usually worth much less than an identical vehicle that has never been written off. The asking price— and your offer — should reflect this. • Because replacement parts can be expensive, Cat N vehicles are sometimes written off for relatively minor damage. However, it's important to make sure the vehicle has been repaired properly and safely. For instance, an insurer might write a vehicle off because replacing the airbags is expensive. But a less-scrupulous repairer might simply disconnect the airbag warning light before selling the vehicle on. It's hard to spot problems like this yourself, so consider getting a professional inspection to ensure the vehicle is roadworthy and safe. • Although you will pay less to buy a Cat N vehicle, it will fetch a lower amount if you sell it on in future. • Some insurance companies will charge more to cover a vehicle in Cat N and others won't provide cover at all. Check before you buy.

Selling a Category N vehicle

Can I sell my Cat N vehicle to someone else?
Yes. Many buyers know that a well-repaired Cat N vehicle will drive well and prove reliable for years to come. You can advertise Cat N vehicles on Free Trader UK.
When advertising your vehicle, be honest about its status and include as much information as you can about the damage. Buyers will have more confidence if you can document what happened to the vehicle and how it was repaired. A Cat N vehicle is usually worth much less than an identical vehicle that has never been written off, so your asking price should reflect this.
I just found out my vehicle is in Category N. What should I do?
It is hard to find details about what damage the vehicle suffered. Although many CAT N vehicles are repaired to a high standard, some unscrupulous repairers skimp on expensive components that are hard to check, like airbags. It can therefore be a good idea to have your vehicle professionally inspected, to be sure it's safe.
Let your insurance company know the vehicle's status, too. If you don't, your policy could be invalid.
Should the person who sold me the vehicle have said it is in Cat N?
If you bought the vehicle from a dealer then they should have told you its insurance status. If they haven’t informed you of the insurance status should see legal advice about making a claim against them.
Private sellers are not obliged to inform you so make sure you ask about the insurance status, as they must tell you about any problems or issues they are aware of. Ask to see the V5C too, to check details and ensure the vehicle is in their name.
I'm sure my vehicle is wrongly recorded as Category N. How do I fix this?
If you’re sure your vehicle shouldn’t be recorded in Category N, we can investigate this further for you. Email [email protected] together with vehicles details and any comments you may have.
Will it cost me more to insure a Cat N vehicle?
Some insurers charge more to cover a CAT N vehicle, or may refuse cover altogether. Check with your insurer for full details.
For how long does a vehicle's Cat N status last?
Permanently. Once a vehicle is recorded as Insurance Category N, it remains so forever.
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Category C
Category C

Category C vehicles

What is a Category C vehicle?

Category C — Cat C, for short — is a level of damage used by insurance companies to describe vehicles they have written off.
A Cat C vehicle will have suffered significant damage in the past, probably in an accident. The insurance company that handled the claim decided that repairing the vehicle would have cost more than replacing it. Insurers often sell Cat C vehicles on for salvage. Many are safely repaired and returned to the road.

Buying a Category C vehicle

Is it safe to buy a Category C vehicle?
When a vehicle is in Cat C, it means it could have been repaired but the insurer chose not to do so.
If a Cat C vehicle is repaired properly, it can be owned and driven safely. However, it's important to check the vehicle's condition carefully before making an offer.
How can I find out exactly what happened to this vehicle?
Ask the seller if they have documentation explaining what happened to the vehicle and what repairs it needed. Be wary of sellers who provide information without documents to back it up. They may have a vested interest in underplaying the damage.
What should I consider before buying a Category C vehicle?
Here are some things to keep in mind:
• A Cat C vehicle is usually worth much less than an identical vehicle that has never been written off. The asking price— and your offer — should reflect this. • Because replacement parts can be expensive, Cat C vehicles are sometimes written off for relatively minor damage. However, it's important to make sure the vehicle has been repaired properly and safely. For instance, an insurer might write a vehicle off because replacing the airbags is expensive. But a less-scrupulous repairer might simply disconnect the airbag warning light before selling the vehicle on. It's hard to spot problems like this yourself, so consider getting a professional inspection to ensure the vehicle is roadworthy and safe. • Although you will pay less to buy a Cat C vehicle, it will fetch a lower amount if you sell it on in future. • Some insurance companies will charge more to cover a vehicle in Cat C and others won't provide cover at all. Check before you buy.

Selling a Category C vehicle

Can I sell my Cat C vehicle to someone else?
Yes. Many buyers know that a well-repaired Cat C vehicle will drive well and prove reliable for years to come. You can advertise Cat C vehicles on Free Trader UK.
When advertising your vehicle, be honest about its status and include as much information as you can about the damage. Buyers will have more confidence if you can document what happened to the vehicle and how it was repaired. A Cat C vehicle is usually worth much less than an identical vehicle that has never been written off, so your asking price should reflect this.
I just found out my vehicle is in Category C. What should I do?
It is hard to find details about what damage the vehicle suffered. Although many Cat C vehicles are repaired to a high standard, some unscrupulous repairers skimp on expensive components that are hard to check, like airbags. It can therefore be a good idea to have your vehicle professionally inspected, to be sure it's safe.
Let your insurance company know the vehicle's status, too. If you don't, your policy could be invalid.
Should the person who sold me the vehicle have said it is in Cat C?
If you bought the vehicle from a dealer then they should have told you its insurance status. You may be able to make a claim against them.
Private sellers do not have to tell you about the Cat C status. If you ask, they must tell you of any problems they know about — but maybe they didn't know either.
I'm sure my vehicle is wrongly recorded as Category C. How do I fix this?
If you’re sure your vehicle shouldn’t be recorded in Cat C, we can investigate this further for you. Email [email protected] together with vehicles details and any comments you may have.
Will it cost me more to insure a Cat C vehicle?
Some insurers charge more to cover a Cat C vehicle, or may refuse cover altogether. Check with your insurer for full details.
For how long does a vehicle's Cat C status last?
Permanently. Once a vehicle has been recorded in Insurance Category C, it stays there forever.
Back to top.
Category D
Category D

Category D vehicles

What is a Category D vehicle?

Category D — Cat D, for short — is a level of damage used by insurance companies to describe vehicles they have written off.
A Cat D vehicle will have suffered damage in the past, probably in an accident. The insurance company that handled the claim decided that repairing the vehicle would have cost more than replacing it. Insurers often sell Cat D vehicles on for salvage. Many are safely repaired and returned to the road.

Buying a Category D vehicle

Is it safe to buy a Category D vehicle?
When a vehicle is in Cat D, it means it could have been repaired but the insurer chose not to do so.
If a Cat D vehicle is repaired properly, it can be owned and driven safely. However, it's important to check the vehicle's condition carefully before making an offer.
How can I find out exactly what happened to this vehicle?
Ask the seller if they have documentation explaining what happened to the vehicle and what repairs it needed. Be wary of sellers who provide information without documents to back it up. They may have a vested interest in underplaying the damage.
What should I consider before buying a Category D vehicle?
Here are some things to keep in mind:
• A Cat D vehicle is usually worth less than an identical vehicle that has never been written off. The asking price — and your offer — should reflect this. • Because replacement parts can be expensive, Cat D vehicles are sometimes written off for minor damage. However, it's important to make sure the vehicle has been repaired properly and safely. For instance, an insurer might write a vehicle off because replacing the airbags is expensive. But a less-scrupulous repairer might simply disconnect the airbag warning light before selling the vehicle on. It's hard to spot problems like this yourself, so consider getting a professional inspection to ensure the vehicle is roadworthy and safe. • Although you will pay less to buy a Cat D vehicle, it will fetch a lower amount if you sell it on in future. • Some insurance companies will charge more to cover a vehicle in Cat D and others won't provide cover at all. Check before you buy.

Selling a Category D vehicle

Can I sell my Cat D vehicle to someone else?
Yes. Many buyers know that a well-repaired Cat D vehicle will drive well and prove reliable for years to come. You can advertise Cat D vehicles on Free Trader UK.
When advertising your vehicle, be honest about its status and include as much information as you can about the damage. Buyers will have more confidence if you can document what happened to the vehicle and how it was repaired. A Cat D vehicle is usually worth less than an identical vehicle that has never been written off, so your asking price should reflect this.
I just found out my vehicle is in Category D. What should I do?
It is hard to find details about what damage the vehicle suffered. Although many Cat D vehicles are repaired to a high standard, some unscrupulous repairers skimp on expensive components that are hard to check, like airbags. It can therefore be a good idea to have your vehicle professionally inspected, to be sure it's safe.
Let your insurance company know the vehicle's status, too. If you don't, your policy could be invalid.
Should the person who sold me the vehicle have said it is in Cat D?
If you bought the vehicle from a dealer then they should have told you its insurance status. You may be able to make a claim against them.
Private sellers do not have to tell you about the Cat D status. If you ask, they must tell you of any problems they know about — but maybe they didn't know either.
I'm sure my vehicle is wrongly recorded as Category D. How do I fix this?
If you’re sure your vehicle shouldn’t be recorded in Cat D, we can investigate this further for you. Email [email protected] together with vehicles details and any comments you may have.
Will it cost me more to insure a Cat D vehicle?
Some insurers charge more to cover a Cat D vehicle, or may refuse cover altogether. Check with your insurer for full details.
For how long does a vehicle's Cat D status last?
Permanently. Once a vehicle has been recorded in Insurance Category D, it stays there forever.
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Viewing a vehicle

When buying a vehicle, it's important that you see the vehicle, check its condition and make sure it has matching paperwork.
The write off category indicators are provided for your assistance, but the presence or absence of an indicator in an advert, should not be relied upon by you to indicate the status of a vehicle. You are strongly advised to obtain a full vehicle history check before making an offer on a vehicle. The write off data is checked at the time of placing the advert. Free Trader UK Limited, or its data supplier, will not accept liability for any information provided for this write off data. See more information about buying and selling. See more information about buying and selling.

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