What Does It Mean When Your Car Is “Written Off”?

Well I hope you’re OK, because if you’ve heard the phrase “it’s a write off” recently, chances are you’ve been in an accident, or at least your car’s been in one. This means that it is ‘beyond economical repair’ and that the insurance company aren’t going to pay to have your car repaired, leaving you with a replacement or just money to the value of what your car was worth instead.

Good or Bad?

For some people this is awesome, because they get a (probably) newer car or a pile of cash to spend on what they want.

However this might not be so good if the pile of cash is a lot smaller than they thought it would be; i.e. the insurance company thinks that the car was worth a lot less than they did. For others this is a nightmare because their beloved steel stallion isn’t going to be brought back to life. This brings the definition of at what point a car is written off into focus…

What is Written Where?

The term ‘write off’ (or ‘total loss’ (‘totalled’) if you’re in the states) applies when an insurance company works out that it would cost them more to repair the car than to just pay you the amount they think it was worth.

Depending on the insurance company (there is no official set figure) they will use a repair to value ratio which will determine whether your car is worth repairing or not. For example:

  • If your car is worth £5000
  • Your insurance company has a repair-to-value ratio of 65%
  • And the damage will cost more than £3250 (that’s 65% of £5000) to repair
  • Your car will be written off

Insurance companies will have their own team of vehicle assessors examine your vehicle to work out how much they think it is worth and if it would only cost £3249 to repair, the insurance company would pay for it. This all depends on their opinion and a load of assessment guidelines, and won’t take into account your personal attachment to the vehicle unfortunately.

It’s Alive!

What you may not realise is that you may see your car again driving down the road one day. This is because insurance companies have levels of written off, which range from Category A write offs – only to be used for scrap, through to Category D write offs – can be repaired but will cost a significant amount. In the case of Category D write offs, the insurance company may sell the carcass to a breakers yard, from which anyone can buy it, repair it and put it back on the road. Yikes!

Hopefully this will have made the whole ‘write offs’ thing a bit clearer.


Dean Saliba

Dean Saliba is a freelance writer, professional blogger, media enthusiast, dirty football player, and huge professional wrestling fan, who covers a wide range of subjects and niches including: making money online, traffic generating, pro wrestling, blog reviews, football, how-to guides, music, internet marketing and more.

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