Cat d car insurance claim
When browsing the used-car classifieds you’ve no doubt seen expressions such as ‘Cat C’, ‘Cat D’ and ‘insurance write-off’. They generally apply to used cars at the cheaper end of the market, but some more expensive cars may also be described as Cat C or Cat D cars. Are such cars the bargains they appear or should you avoid them completely?
Following a claim, an insurance company will assess the scale of the damage and the costs necessary to restore a car to the condition it was in before the incident.
If these costs are too high, the insurer may pay the owner what the car was worth prior to the claim and write it off, giving it a category that reflects its condition.
There are four categories (called ‘Cats’) from A to D. Cat A and Cat B cars are crushed because they’re so badly damaged, but Cat C and D cars are less seriously damaged and can go back on the road after they’ve been repaired.
However, they must be declared as being Cat C or Cat D. Generally speaking, if it would cost more than 50% of a car’s value to repair it, an insurer will write it off.
What is a Cat D car or Cat C car?
The least serious write-off category is Cat D, while cars in Cat C are more likely to have suffered serious damage or damage to expensive parts.
According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), Category D write-offs are “repairable total-loss vehicles where repair costs including VAT do not exceed the vehicle's pre-accident value”. Cat C cars are those where the “repair costs including VAT exceed the vehicle's pre-accident value”.
Don’t think a Cat D or C car has necessarily sustained serious damage. A low-value car could be written off due to a light car-park scrape simply because the costs of processing the claim exceeds the car’s value.
This is why you’ll find so many Cat C and D cars being offered for sale, because motor traders can repair them cheaply and sell them at a profit.
Cat C and Cat D repaired cars – the process
First, the insurer will calculate what the claim will cost to process (including their administration time and the cost of providing a courtesy car) as well as what the car will cost to repair.
The insurer may consider it cheaper to write off the car if these costs exceed its value. The owner will be paid off or even given the chance to buy the car from the insurer so they can repair it themselves.
If the owner decides to take the money, the insurer will, assuming it’s a Cat C or D write-off, offer the car for sale at auction in order to get back its money.
Buying a Cat C car or Cat D car
It’s legal to sell a Cat C or D car as long as its status is declared. Even so, they’re much cheaper – possibly as much as 50% cheaper – because there’s a stigma attached to them and they’ll need repairing.
This stigma will remain with the car even after it’s repaired, because Cat C or D status stays with the vehicle and must always be declared when it’s offered for sale. This will mean it always fetches a lower price.
Not everyone is convinced about the merits of buying a Cat C or D car. Neil Hodson, managing director of car history check firm HPI, cautions that “the real risk with buying a write-off is paying good money for a vehicle that's been badly repaired and is a danger to drive, or worse still, should never have been put back on the road in the first place. If a write-off hasn’t been properly repaired, any price is too high.” On the other hand, Hodson concedes “there are write-off categories that, if repaired professionally, offer good value for buyers”.
Others are more doubtful still. Trading Standards officer Gerry Taylor says that buyers should avoid Cat C and D cars since the risk they haven’t been repaired properly is too high and an imperfect repair could affect crash performance.
Write-off engineer reports
Despite all this, you may still want to buy a Cat C or D car. In that case, have it inspected by a trained motor engineer employed by organisations such as the AA and RAC.
The engineer will inspect the car and tell you all you need to know about its condition, crashworthiness and any problems lurking within it that aren’t obvious to the untrained eye.
It won’t be cheap, but if the worst happens a report could be offered as evidence in court. In any case, insurers generally insist on an engineer’s report before they’ll consider insuring a Cat C or D vehicle.
Selling a Cat C car or Cat D car
You must declare the car’s Cat C or Cat D status when selling it or part-exchanging it. If you don’t, the new owner could sue you for damages.
Insuring a Cat C car or Cat D car
Don’t expect insuring your Cat C or D car will be straightforward. Some insurers won’t consider covering such a car and those that do may charge a higher premium. An engineer’s inspection report will certainly smooth the way.
What the law says
Thanks to the Consumer Rights Act 2015, car buyers are better protected, since the law states that any goods purchased should be ‘of satisfactory quality’, ‘fit for purpose’ and ‘as described’.
If you were unwittingly sold a car the seller knew to be a Cat C or D, the seller is in breach of the last requirement. Even if the seller was unaware of the car’s status, it’s still not of satisfactory quality or fit for purpose. It also falls foul of the ‘innocent misrepresentation’ clause of the Misdescriptions Act.
Either way, you would have grounds to take legal action against the seller.
Of course, they may immediately offer you a refund, but you’d be wise to tell Trading Standards to protect future customers.
Cat C and D cars used to have to undergo a Vehicle Identity Check, or VIC, before being allowed back on the road. This was intended to stop criminals selling disguised write-offs to ignorant buyers, but it identified so few cars that it has been abandoned.
Classifications of write-offs
Category A: Cat A cars have been so badly damaged that the entire car must be crushed.
Category B: Cat B cars can’t be returned to the road and their bodyshell must be crushed, although usable parts may be sold and reused on other cars.
Category C: Cat C cars can be put back on the road after being repaired, but these repairs (and any auxiliary costs) have been assessed to exceed the car’s pre-damage value. You must declare a Cat C car’s status when you sell or insure it.
Category D: Cat D cars are deemed to have suffered damage that would cost less than the car’s pre-incident value to repair. After appropriate repairs have been made, Cat D cars can be returned to the road – although as with Cat C cars, you’re legally obliged to declare this to insurers and buyers.
24 Feb 2017 15:24 Last updated: 24 Feb 2017 15:45
There are four levels of damage used by the insurance industry to describe cars that have been involved in accidents. These levels, or categories as they're more commonly known, are labelled as A, B, C and D.
Cat A cars
This type of car is the worst of the four. Vehicles in Cat A cannot even be used for salvage and should be crushed.
Cat B cars
These vehicles still have serious damage but they may be broken down for spare parts.
Cat C cars
These vehicles can be fixed, but the repairs alone will cost more than the car's market value, so it has been written off.
Cat D cars
As with Cat C vehicles, Cat D cars can be fixed - but the repairs will cost less than its market value. However, the insurance company's decision to repair the vehicle is dependent on more than the cost of the repairs.
A Category D write-off can often be caused by moderate damage. The insurance company also has to take into account the cost of a courtesy car and inspection fees once the repairs have been completed. So it might decide that it doesn't make financial sense to repair the Cat D car.
If that's the case, the insurer can decide to sell the car to an independent garage, which then repairs the car for less money and is able to sell it on to the public.
Let's say you find one of these Cat D cars in the classifieds. Is it worth looking at or should you move on right away?
If you've done your homework, know what to look out for and what questions you need to ask, you can pick up a real bargain.
Here are our six top tips for buying a Cat D write-off:
1. Buy the car from a dealer instead of a private seller
If you buy a Cat D car from a dealer then you have more consumer rights. A car dealer has to declare everything they know about a car; a private seller only has to make sure the car is as described.
2. Ask lots of questions
What damage did the car sustain? Where were the works carried out? What parts were replaced? The insurer doesn't have to release any information about how the car became a write-off, but some well-targeted questions to the dealer can help you uncover what happened.
3. Get an inspection
This will cost you upwards of £200 - a major investment when you're attracted to the car because of its low price - but is well worth it. An inspector knows what to check and could find accident damage that was missed. The AA, RAC, Dekra and Autolign all offer inspection services and could save you from buying a car that's potentially unsafe.
4. Pay for a history check
What if the accident isn't the only thing you need to think about? Just as with a conventional secondhand car, a history check will show up if the vehicle has been stolen or is subject to any outstanding finance.
5. Be wary of newer cars offering really big savings
The old adage, 'If it looks too good to be true, it probably is' definitely applies here. A really low price on a newer car could be a sign that the repair work has been done to a budget and isn't of satisfactory quality.
6. Avoid cars that could have chassis damage
Bodywork damage can be relatively easy to fix - but chassis damage will continue to cause headaches even if a repair has been attempted. You should be doubly careful if you discover the car has had a problem in this area.
If you think a Cat D car is worth the gamble and you've decided to buy one, there are two further things to consider:
7. Tell your insurance company
Make sure you inform your insurance company that the car's a Cat D. It's likely that it'll have to be marked on your policy; otherwise you risk having any claim turned down in the future.
8. Investigate a warranty
Some used warranty suppliers will provide cover for Cat D cars. It could be a surprisingly cost-effective way of giving yourself some peace of mind about your new purchase and any repairs that have been made.
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What are Category C and Category D cars? 17th April 2015 3 minute story
Find out what a Category C write-off is and how to insure a car that has been previously written off with the help of Admiral
Buying a car is no easy feat; you've got to consider the make, the model, the safety features and whether it's spacious enough for you and your needs.
So, what do you do when you find a car that looks like a great deal but you find out it's been involved in an accident?
With the help of Glyn Morgan, deputy head of engineering at Admiral, and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) guidelines, we'll tell you everything you need to know about buying and insuring cars that have been previously written off.
There are four categories of write-off to consider, A,B,C D.
- Category A - if a car is classed as category A, back away immediately. A Cat A car will have suffered extensive damage and have no economically salvageable parts. It may have been severely damaged in an accident or a total burn-out. The car – and all its spare parts – should be crushed.
- Category B - this means the car suffered heavy damage resulting in the chassis being bent and should not be repaired. The car may be old or low value and beyond any form of economic repair. Some of the parts may be salvageable, but the body shell should be crushed and it should never return to the road.
- Category C - this is the one you probably hear more about, as a Cat C car can be repaired. We are able to insure a Category C car but some insurance companies might not be.
- Category D - like category C above, a Cat D can be repaired and have around 60% damage. They may have been classed a write off rather than being repaired and returned to the original owner for a number of reasons, for example, that person may have had a 'new for old' clause in their insurance.
Buying and insuring a car that's been written off
The first thing you should do is get as much information as possible on the car's history to find out if a car you're looking to purchase has previously been written off. A history check will also tell you if the car is stolen or has any outstanding finance on it.
Companies like HPI and the AA can carry out history checks online or over the phone for around £30.
Glyn says: "If you're looking to purchase one of these it should only ever be a Cat C or D. Today if a Cat C is repaired it will need to have a Vehicle Identity Check (VIC) before it can be placed back on the road, these checks are carried out by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.
"If a vehicle has had a VIC check there will be a comment recorded on the V5 document. You should try to find out the extent of the damage, images of the damage, details of the repairer, what was repaired and how much it cost to repair, we would recommend an independent inspection by a professional prior to purchase to ensure that the car has been repaired correctly and safely."
As long as your car meets the criteria noted by Glyn then we'll be able to insure your car as long as it was either a Category C or Category D write-off.