Write Off Categories Explained

The term “write-off” sounds alarm bells for most people but while many write-off vehicles are only suitable for scrappage, many others can be repaired and safely driven on the road again.

What is a write-off?

A write-off is a vehicle that’s either sustained so much damage that it’s unsafe to go back on the road or damaged to an extent that the cost of repairs is more than the vehicle is worth.

When an insured vehicle is damaged through a collision, fire or theft, an insurance engineer assesses the condition of the vehicle as part of the insurance claim. Vehicles that are deemed written-off will fall into one of the following write-off categories:

Category A
A vehicle which is damaged to such an extent that it is not legally allowed to be driven on the road and is only suitable for scrappage. Furthermore, no parts of the vehicle can be recovered for reuse in another vehicle. Examples of Category A write-offs include vehicles that have sustained extensive fire damage or irreparable water damage.

Category B
A vehicle which is structurally unsafe and uneconomical to repair. While the vehicle is not legally allowed to be driven on public roads, salvageable parts of the vehicle can be recovered for use in another vehicle. Examples of Category B write-offs include vehicles that have sustained partial fire damage, repairable water damage or structural damage.

Category C
A vehicle which is capable of being repaired but the repair cost exceeds the pre-accident vehicle value. This category is referred to as category S in the UK. Examples of Category C write-offs include vehicles involved in minor to moderate collisions and vehicles with minor water or fire damage.

Category D
A vehicle which is structurally safe with superficial damage. However, the vehicle is deemed a write-off as the cost of repair exceeds the pre-accident vehicle value. This category is referred to as category N in the UK. Examples of Category D write-offs include vehicles with cosmetic damage such as dents and scrapes.

Does a vehicle history check include write-off status?

In Ireland, a history check will show whether a vehicle is a Category A or B write-off. As there is no official record of Category C or D write-offs maintained in Ireland, Category C or D write-off status is not included in any Irish history check report.

For UK imported vehicles, a UK vehicle history report will identify whether a vehicle has been categorised as A, B, C or D.

What does each write-off category mean for me?

Category A and B vehicles, also referred to as End of Life vehicles, must be reported to the Department of Transport and should be disposed of in an ATF (authorised treatment facility). Category A and B write-off vehicles are deemed unroadworthy and should not be purchased for use on public roads.

While it is legal to sell Category C and D write-off vehicles, in Ireland there are no mandatory checks to ensure a vehicle is roadworthy after being classed as a write-off. For peace of mind, we recommend the vehicle is checked by a certified mechanic before purchase.

If you do decide to purchase a Category C or D write-off vehicle, the fact that the car is a repaired write-off must be declared to your insurance provider - failure to do so can affect your insurance contract. In addition, some insurance providers will require an independent motor assessor’s report deeming the vehicle roadworthy before covering the vehicle.

As always when purchasing a used vehicle, if you feel in any way unsure about your purchase don’t be afraid to walk away.