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Insurance Write Off Categories N and S

What are insurance write-off categories? In this article we take a closer look at the N and S vehicle categories.

Car write off

​Insurance categories were introduced to reflect the complexity involved in repairing modern day vehicles. Back in October 2017, some of the insurance write-off classification categories were updated in the United Kingdom, with both N and S classifications replacing the previous C and D categories.

However, it is worth noting that vehicles originally classified as either Cat C or D will not be reassessed by professional motor trade engineers, so there will be a number of these vehicles still on our roads or available to purchase today.

So, apart from their category names, what changed, and how do the rules about buying a vehicle that has been written off apply?

Write-off Category S – Formerly CAT C

Vehicles in this category will have suffered structural damage to areas like the chassis, this can still be repaired by a qualified motor trade mechanic, and once roadworthy, it can be sold on and driven again.

Before being sold again privately, or by a motor trade dealer, it needs to pass an inspection and be re-registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Depending on what parts were involved in the repair, the DVLA may need to issue a new vehicle registration number which will begin with the letter ‘Q’.

Write-off Category N – Formerly CAT D

Vehicles in this category will have suffered non-structural damage and can also be fully repaired back to a roadworthy condition before being driven on the roads again.

The term ‘non-structural’ is an overly broad term which could involve all sorts of parts, like the engine, electrics, bumper, interior components, or vehicle panelling.

However, once repaired, it will not need to pass an inspection by an approved motor trade engineer or be re-registered by the DVLA before a brand new private, or motor trade insurance policy is purchased.

If a vehicle is unfortunate enough to be involved in an insurance claim following an accident, it is the decision of the insurance broker or motor trade insurance company to assess if the vehicle is worth repairing financially.

The company will then assign a write-off category to determine how a vehicle should be viewed and treated going forward.

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Insurance write-off categories

A. Scrap

B. Break

S. Structurally damaged repairable

N. Non-structurally damaged repairable

The DVLA must be informed if a vehicle has been declared a Cat S write-off, this will protect potential buyers against purchasing a vehicle that was previously a write-off without knowing.

The DVLA will then send out a new updated vehicle logbook (V5C) highlighting that the vehicle has been written off. Owners do not need to contact the DVLA themselves, the insurance company should handle this on your behalf, but ensure you get the new V5C though from the DVLA.

Insurance companies will also notify the DVLA if a vehicle is to be scrapped or sold on for spare parts.

If you are involved in any of these circumstances, then you will need confirmation from the DVLA to prove the vehicle is no longer your responsibility if that is the case.