The Types of Car Write-Offs

By: Motor Easy
Car Write-Offs

What Is a Cat A, Cat B, Cat S, Or Cat N Write-Off?

There are four words that a motorist never wants to hear. Those words? “It’s a write-off”. However, you may be surprised to learn that there are different categories of “write-off”. While a written-off car means something has gone badly wrong, it can make all the difference when deciding what the damage is, particularly in your wallet. Today, we will discuss car write-offs and the different categories under which your vehicle may be assigned.

What is a Write-Off?

Essentially, a write off is bad news. The simplest possible answer is that a vehicle has been damaged or degraded to the point that it would cost more to repair than the car is worth. And it isn’t just related to ‘old bangers’ and bad smashes either.


Many insurers will only pay up to the current market value of your car. We are all familiar with a brand-new car instantly losing value the second it moves off the dealer’s forecourt. Potentially you could drive your car a mile, be involved in a bad smash and find yourself in a tricky position financially as a result.

The answer?

Well, it all depends on how bad the damage is. Insurers assign a code that designates how ‘written off’ the car actually is. Today we will look at these different categories and what they might mean for you as a motorist.

Write off Categories | The Easy Explanation

OK, so there’s damage, but how bad is it? Here are the codes that your insurer will specify when declaring a vehicle a write-off.

Category A

Sorry, it’s terminal. These are cars that simply can not be repaired. They are often so damaged that even the parts hold no value. Essentially, scrap only.

Category B

This category is a little better than category A write-offs, but not by much. Cars placed in this category are still damaged beyond repair.

The small saving grace is that some parts can be reused or salvaged if they are in a usable condition.

Category S

These cars are a write off in the traditional sense. The ‘S’ stands for ‘structural’. However, the good news is that they can be repaired and even sold on. This comes with caveats, though. To make a sale, it is highly recommended that the vehicle is thoroughly inspected by a qualified mechanic before it is deemed ‘roadworthy’. Be sure to choose a good quality provider that offers car health checks

Category N

Back in the day, this used to be known as a ‘D’ category write off. This is applied to vehicles that have been involved in an accident, but the structural frame remains intact. There may still be damage to vital components such as the engine, the steering, the brakes or the wheels.

With some vehicles, you’ll find that these components account for the bulk of the cost of repairing them, even if the car doesn’t look especially damaged. This can be a bitter pill to swallow when you are told your new car is a ‘write off’ and can’t be used, even though the damage is repairable.

My Car is Written-Off, But It’s OK as I’m Insured, Right?

Well, yes and no. Take, for instance, a category B write-off as mentioned above.

You’ve had a bad smash and be left without a car. If you think that the insurers will replace it like-for-like, you may be in for a shock. Why?

Remember, we said most insurers will only pay up to the current value of the car. This could mean that you have finance based on the vehicles new value but are only going to receive a payout up to the current value. That could be a significant ‘gap’.

So, what is the answer? Easy. GAP insurance. GAP insurance covers you if the worst happens.

What is GAP Insurance?

In the simplest terms, GAP insurance covers the difference between what you paid for the vehicle and what the insurer is willing to pay you for the vehicle. Or the amount you need to pay off the finance, making you debt-free regarding your car payments.

Or, to put it another way. If your vehicle is declared written off, you don’t need to worry about paying any potential shortfall.

Having an incident that leads to a vehicle being written off is bad enough without worrying about being financially compromised too! GAP insurance is one of those things that people don’t tend to think about. As far as they are concerned, their insurance will pay. Sadly this is not the case. Want to find out more about GAP insurance? Take a look at our guide answering all questions surrounding GAP insurance. 

Where to Find GAP Insurance?

It couldn’t be easier to get GAP insurance. MotorEasy offers a free GAP insurance quote, needing nothing more than a registration number. If you aren’t sure how much damage your vehicle has sustained, you can always ask for a vehicle inspection!


If you have questions about GAP Insurance, extended warranty or vehicle maintenance, MotorEasy can offer expert advice. Why not contact us today and see what we can do for you?


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