Should I buy a category N write-off?

Cat N Written-Off Car explained

Buying a car with minor damage after proper repairs

As a car buyer, beware of four main factors in a car history check that impact vehicle safety, your finances or the legality to buy.

The first factor is salvage vehicles.

The remaining three include theft status, outstanding finance and mileage fraud.

If your CarVeto vehicle check highlights even one of these factors, get more information before committing to buy.

If you are uncertain, get in touch with our team to ask questions.

Attention existing customers:

Does your CarVeto report highlight Cat N car damage?

Click here for details on what to do

What is a category N write-off?

Check recorded accident damage

Enter a registration plate number

(Such as RJ65AXF)

What is a salvaged vehicle?

Write-off categories are determined by the type of damage sustained and the cost of potential repair.

Vehicle assessors determine the cost of getting the car back on the road. If repairs exceed the car’s value, it is classed as a written-off (salvage).

Up-to-date categorizations:

  • Category A write-off
  • Category B write-off
  • Category S write-off
  • Cat N car meaning is described below…

What is Cat N?

In this guide, you will learn about category N write-off. It is the lowest grade insurance write-off category, meaning no structural components were impacted, such as chassis damage or crumple zones.

That generally means that repairs costs are less than other insurance categories, namely, Cat S.

Most Cat N damaged vehicles are older

That’s because older cars are not worth as much as newer ones. It doesn’t take much damage for repairs to exceed the value of an older car. In these cases, Cat N is applied.

Accident damage can be as minor as a broken mirror or electrical issues.

Safety and value come first. You must know what you are buying, its repair quality, reliability and how easy it might be to resell.

Beware of a significantly reduced car value

84% Of our customers reject a Cat N damaged vehicle.

If you choose to buy a write-off, even with all essential repairs taken care of, expect to pay a lot less than normal market value.

But, as the new owner, the rule applies when selling the car in future. The car is worth a lot less.

Also, keep in mind that most private car buyers will not consider a car with previous accident damage repairs.

It is personal preference. You may not mind owning a car with previous accident damage. In some cases, you’ll get a newer, lower mileage vehicle for your money.

Overall, an insurance category damaged vehicle is not suited for private motorists. We suggest looking again for a vehicle that is genuine, good value for money with easy resale.

Withdrawn Salvage categories

UK insurance company classification of damaged vehicles:

Cat A, B, C and D, pre-2017

Category A

Extreme and irreparable damage with little to no salvageable parts.

  • Cat A is currently in use.

Category B

Significant irreparable damage but some salvageable parts.

  • Cat B is currently in use.

Category C

Repairable but costs involved in repair exceed the value of the vehicle. The insurance company did not repair the vehicle to a roadworthy condition.

Category D

Repairable but costs involved in repair exceed the value of the vehicle. The insurer stated repair costs exceeded car value.

  • Cat D is now reclassified as Cat N damage

Motorists can buy a car write off Category C or D deemed repairable despite the insurance company not making repairs.

The insurance company found replacement cheaper than repairing the vehicle to a roadworthy condition.

The insurance company uses the ‘cost of repair ratio‘ as the traditional gauge to determine if a car is economical to fix.

Categories S and N are designed to look at the condition of the car beyond potential restoration costs. It may consider mileage, service records and general condition.

Both S and N can be put back onto the road

Cat S and N are both deemed uneconomical to repair.

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.

The 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.

Then the car may 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.

As we have mentioned, such vehicles are not worth as much as comparative, undamaged models.

Offering an exact valuation on a write off repair car is difficult. Ultimately, it depends on what a 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 challenging to sell as the pool of potential buyers is smaller.

Buying a Cat S or N car

Get a fresh free car check history.

CarVeto will highlight all recorded issues, including is my car stolen? Plus, write off status, mileage issues, outstanding finance check, VIC inspections, colour changes and others.

Permanent notification of insurance category write off (cat s).

Compare the car with its documentation

With your CarVeto report, compare the VIN and engine numbers, both found on the DVLA V5C log book (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency).

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

Finally, look into the cost of an insurance policy.

Some companies will charge more to underwrite a Cat S or N car.

Others will refuse insurance cover.

If you uncover a car that carries Cat S or Cat N write off status but want to buy, we recommend a professional car inspection. A fully vetted mechanic will check for professional repairs, potential mechanic issues and market car value.