Cat C actually stands for Category C. It is used to denote a specific case of car insurance write-off after a vehicle has been damaged. For a complete overview of the different categories of car insurance write-off, read our article "What is an insurance write-off?"
Vehicles written off after an accident, a flood, or fire damage are often classified as Cat C. In its simplest form, it means that although the car is repairable, the cost of the parts, labour and potentially an expensive hire car would significantly exceed the value of the vehicle.
From a business point of view, if your car insurance company deems the damage to be beyond economic repair, it may be classified as a Cat C write-off.
What happens to Cat C insurance write-offs?
As a result, these Cat C car write-offs are often sold at special auctions to motor traders and repair garages that can fix the vehicles at trade prices – usually much less than an insurance company would be charged.
Because there is a margin for these traders and repair businesses within the car, insurance companies can sell Cat C cars through these channels and recoup some money from the sale.
Are Cat C cars less safe than normal cars?
If the car has been repaired properly and to a good standard by a reputable garage, there’s no reason that any Cat C vehicle shouldn’t be as safe as a new, undamaged car.
For example, if you were to have a relatively small accident in a used executive saloon that featured parking and radar guided cruise control sensors in its bumpers, the cost of these parts along with a replacement hire car might outweigh the price of the second-hand vehicle itself – even though no structural damage has been caused.
This is why surprisingly lightly damaged cars can get written off under the Category C rules.
Even so, if you’re thinking of buying a Category C insurance write-off, it could be worth getting an independent inspection to warrant the quality of the repair work, deeming the car safe to be used on the public road. Companies such as the RAC can help here.
How do I spot a Cat C insurance write-off?
A professional motor trader does have to outline if a vehicle has been written off. However, a private seller doesn’t.
That’s why we’d recommend running a car check on the vehicle before any potential purchase. All you need is the registration number and the RAC can do the rest for you, outlining the vehicle’s history, if it’s recorded stolen, or if it has any outstanding finance.
Why are Cat C insurance write-offs generally cheaper?
Often, a Cat C car will be on sale for less than the market value. This doesn’t necessarily mean it is worse than another car of its type, it just reflects that the car has suffered damage and previously been repaired.
However, it doesn’t take into account the type of damage. Beware that if you do buy a Cat C car, when you come to sell it the vehicle might not be worth as much as you think.
Looking to purchase a new car? Browse the selection at RAC cars.
There’s no reason not to buy a Cat C insurance write-off if you can guarantee it’s in first-class condition. Equally, if you steer clear of a Cat C car when you’re looking for a used vehicle, we understand.