Can I sell an insurance write off? What to do with your damaged car

Can I sell an insurance write off? What to do with your damaged car
It’s not necessarily the end of the road for a car that’s been ‘written off’.

You might be able to keep your car or sell it on to a new buyer depending on the extent of the damage. Here are some of your options.

What to do with a written off car

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Whether you can sell or use a car that has been written off depends on the write off category your vehicle has been assigned to.

After an assessment your insurance company will tell you the value of your vehicle (rather than the cost of repairing it) and the category it falls into.

Write off categories

CategoryRepairing the vehicleUsing the vehicle
ACannot be repairedEntire vehicle has to be crushed
BCannot be repairedBody shell has to be crushed, but you can salvage other parts from it
CCan be repaired, but it would cost more than the vehicle’s worthYou can use the vehicle again if it’s repaired to a roadworthy condition
DCan be repaired and would cost less than the vehicle’s worth, but other costs (such as transporting your vehicle) take it over the vehicle’s valueYou can use the vehicle again if it’s repaired to a roadworthy condition
NCan be repaired following non-structural damageYou can use the vehicle again if it’s repaired to a roadworthy condition
SCan be repaired following structural damageYou can use the vehicle again if it’s repaired to a roadworthy condition

Leaving a write off with your insurance provider

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Your insurance provider will usually get your vehicle scrapped for you if it cannot be repaired. 

If this happens, you’ll need to send the log book, or V5C document, to your insurance provider, but keep the ‘sell, transfer or part-exchange your vehicle to the motor trade’ section in yellow.

If you have a personalised number plate and want to keep it, you should apply to take it off the vehicle right away.

Make sure you inform the DVLA that your car has been written off, or you could face a £1,000 fine.

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Keeping a write off vehicle

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If your vehicle falls into categories C, D, N, or S you have the option to buy it back.

Let your insurance provider know that you’re interested before agreeing on a settlement figure. 

If you have a category C or S vehicle, you’ll need to:

  • send the complete log book to your insurance provider
  • apply for a free duplicate log book using a V62 form

The DVLA will record your vehicle’s category in the log book.

There’s no need to send in your log book if you want to keep a category D or N vehicle.

Can I fix a write off myself?

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Although it doesn’t always make economic sense, vehicles that fall into categories C, D, N, or S can be used again if they’re repaired to a roadworthy condition.

It’s not advisable to make those repairs yourself as a car that has been written off will need expert attention.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) say that “manufacturers’ or recognised researched repair methods must always be used.”

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Can I sell a car that has been written off?

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Selling a category A or B car is illegal as they must be crushed. Cars assigned to other categories can be sold on provided the DVLA are notified that they have been written off. 

A car that is written off will not be suitable to drive until appropriate repairs have been made to make it roadworthy. A number of authorities may also need to be notified. These include:

  • Motor Insurance Anti-Fraud & Theft Register (MIAFTR)
  • Police
  • DVSA
  • Vehicle data agencies and other interested organisations

When advertising your car or speaking to potential buyers it’s important to be honest about your car’s write off history.

Selling an insurance write off

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Selling a write off isn’t too different from selling a car normally.

Before you do anything you should let the DVLA know that your car has been written off or you could face a £1,000 fine.

You’ll want to clean the car, advertise it somewhere you know it will be seen and make sure that potential buyers are insured for a test drive in the usual way.

You should let potential buyers know that your car was a write off and if it has a short MOT, it’s probably worth putting it in for a test and a service for extra peace of mind. 

Some buyers may want to use a vehicle inspection for further reassurance. 

Many insurance providers will charge more to cover a write off, so you can expect buyers to offer less money. 

Once a price is agreed and two copies of a receipt are produced, one for you and one for the buyer, you’ll need to tell the DVLA that you’ve sold a car.

Hand over the keys and remember to give the buyer any documents or spare keys just as you would with a normal car.

Follow our tips for a complete guide on how to sell a car privately

Selling a write off for scrap or to a dealer

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If you plan on scrapping your car, your insurance provider will usually make the arrangements. Alternatively, you can find an authorised treatment facility yourself.

Make sure you apply to keep the registration if you wish and send the V5C document to your provider but keep the ‘sell, transfer or part-exchange your vehicle to the motor trade’ section in yellow.

If you want to sell your car to a dealer, online or in person, you’ll need to follow the same process but arrange the collection of the vehicle yourself. 

Expect a lower offer from scrapyards and dealers than those from private buyers.

Make sure you inform the DVLA that your car has been written off, or you could face a £1,000 fine.

What should I write on an ad when selling a write off?

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It’s important to be honest when selling your car. 

Mention the fact the vehicle was a write off and include its category type in the description. This will reassure potential buyers about your honesty and give them confidence in other aspects of the sale.

Vehicle history checks will return information on any write off and could cause complications with a buyer if you fail to disclose everything from the start.

How write off categories impact price

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Before you decide to sell your write off, it’s important to understand the cost of repairs that your insurance provider has chosen not to make.

Naturally the cost of repair will be unique to the vehicle and the write off category. There are useful online tools available to check how much these could cost.

ClickMechanic.com asks for your registration and postcode before you specify your problem to get a helpful estimate.

Your asking price will also need to factor in increased insurance costs, as many providers charge a higher premium to cover cars that were previously written off.

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^10% of all customers buying Car Insurance Plus with us from 1st January 2021 to 30th June 2021 paid less than £151. Based on comprehensive Car Insurance Plus, purchased direct, excluding any additional products and upgrades, with payment on an annual basis. Your premium will depend on your circumstances and the level of cover you choose.