Definitions of car write off categories

Category N write off and category S write offs

Write off checks


Insurance Category C and D have changed to S and N.

Although a car may be classified as written off it may still be eligible to buy.

What’s important is motorists making informed decisions in car safety and value. You must know exactly what we are buying, its quality, reliability and how easy it might be to resell.


classified car write off before and after image


See the image above and consider if you would still buy this car had you seen it prior to repair.

Before buying a car, it is always recommended to run your own CarVeto check to look for outstanding finance, mileage anomalies, theft and of course, potential written-off status.


UK insurance company classification of damaged vehicles: A, B, C and D.

Category A

Extreme damage resulting in irreparable damage with little to no salvageable parts

Category B

Significant damage resulting in irreparable damage but some salvageable parts

Category C

Repairable but costs involved in repair exceed the value of the vehicle. Insurance company do not repair the vehicle to a roadworthy condition

Category D

Repairable but costs involved in repair exceed the value of the vehicle. Insurance company do not repair the vehicle to a roadworthy condition


Motorists can go ahead and buy a car write off Category C or D as they are deemed repairable despite the insurance company not making repairs. In such cases, the insurance company found replacement cheaper than repair to a roadworthy condition.


October 2017 – Category C and D replace S and N

However, from 1 October 2017, categories S and N have replaced the old C and D categories.

Insurance company cost of repair was the traditional gauge for determining if a car was repairable, or not. Categories S and N are designed to look at the condition of the car above potential repair costs.


Both S and N can be put back onto the road

Cat S and N are both deemed uneconomical to repair by the interested insurance company. The distinction between these categories relates to structural and non-structural damage. Cat S may have suffered structural damage to the frame and or chassis whilst Cat N was free from such damage.

At some point, a Category S vehicle suffered structural damage and has been written off by the insurer due to uneconomical repair. This damage could be to any part of the vehicle’s structural frame, including the chassis.


Salvage car check

Both write off categories tend to end up in salvage where a third party may buy the car and repair it. The car may then be put up for sale.

It is legal to buy this type of vehicle provided it has undergone all the correct repair procedures with Autoalign certification.

Importantly, such vehicles are not worth as much as comparative cars with or without such classification.

Offering an exact valuation on a write off repair car is difficult. Ultimately, it depends on what the buyer is prepared to pay.

Our broad barometer is to think about how easy or difficult it shall be to resell the vehicle in future.

Cars with a category S or N classification are historically difficult to sell as the pool of buyers prepared to take on such a vehicle is far smaller.


Buying a Cat S or N car

Firstly, run a CarVeto and check the full history of the car. We will highlight all recorded issues including write off status, mileage issues, potential theft, finance, VIC inspections, colour changes and much more.

After your Veto check makes a thorough investigation of the documentation of the car. Ensure there is full documentation evidence of what happened to the car and its repair inventory.

We also suggest a third-party inspection with a company like ClickMechanic, who will investigate all aspects of car roadworthiness.

Finally, look into the cost of car insurance as some companies will charge more to underwrite a Cat S or N car. There are some insurance companies that will not insure such a vehicle.

See our recent article on a car test drive before you buy


The team, CarVeto

Check a car for write-off status