What is a category B write-off?

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When a car is written off, it's put into one of four categories:

Which category the car is put in depends on how badly damaged it is, and whether any (or all) of it can be saved.

Here's everything you need to know about category B write-offs.

Category B write-offs are severely damaged but some parts can be saved

When a car is written-off as category B it means that the main body of it has to be crushed, but some parts can still be saved, unlike category A write-offs.

This is because the main structure of the car has been damaged beyond repair, but some parts are usable and could be recycled.

By the way, it's illegal to try and save the frame of a category B car or to put it back on the road.

You still have to pay for the rest of your insurance with a category B car

Normally you'll have to keep paying for your insurance until the policy ends even if your car is written-off.

If you paid for your insurance upfront you won't be able to get a refund. This is because most car standard policies are yearly contracts where you agree to pay a certain amount over 12 months. So you'll have to pay out your contract even if your car isn't on the road anymore.

Category B write-offs can't be insured under a new policy

You can't get a new insurance policy for a category B car because the body of it has to be destroyed by law. So while you can reuse or sell some parts from a category B car, you wouldn't be able to put the car itself on the road again.

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Insurers usually offer payouts for cars category B write-offs

When your car is written off and put into category B, your insurer may offer you a payout.

To work out how much to offer you, they'll have a valuation of your car done to see how much it was worth just before it was damaged. This is called its "market value."

Insurers don't use the value of the car when it's new to calculate your payout.

Usually, insurers take away an insurance excess from the final payout as well. The excess is a sum of money you have to pay when you make an insurance claim.

If you don't agree with your insurer's valuation, you can try to negotiate with them. You'll need to gather as much evidence as possible to prove that their valuation is wrong, though. Try to get lots of quotes from different sources and add any changes that you made that could have increased the car's value, for example adding new tyres.

Cars can be written off for serious damage, or if an insurer doesn't think repairing it is value for money.
Cars can be written off for serious damage, or if an insurer doesn't think repairing it is value for money.

Whether or not your insurer pays out for your written off car depends on the type of cover you have

There are three different types of car insurance cover and some don't include a payout if your car is written-off as category B.

Fully comprehensive

Insurers will pay out if you have a fully comprehensive policy and your car is written-off.

Third party, fire and theft

If you have third party, fire and theft cover, your insurer will only pay out if:

  • the damage happens because of a fire
  • someone steals your car and they damage it beyond repair.

If another driver causes the damage, you'll get a payout from their insurer (not yours).

Third party

Third party cover is very limited and only pays out for damage you cause to other people's cars.

This means that your insurer won't pay out if your car is written-off.

If another driver causes the damage, you'll get a payout from their insurer - not yours.

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You can keep parts from a Category B write-off by buying them back

Once your insurer gives you a payout, they technically own the car - but you can buy back parts that you'd like to keep from them.

Most insurers offer something called "first refusal", which means that they won't let anyone else buy the parts until you've had a chance to.

Sometimes you'll be sent the entire car so that you can strip out the parts you want to keep. After that you'll have to get an official company to crush the frame and it can't be used on the road again.

Your insurer might ask you to see a certificate to prove you've had the frame scrapped.

Some insurers offer policies where you don't have pay to get parts back if your car is written-off, but these are usually more expensive than standard car insurance. If you've got this kind of cover, you'd get your payout and get to keep any salvageable car parts without paying extra for them.

What parts can you keep from a category B damaged car?

Sometimes people want to save parts from a category B car because they've spent a lot of money fixing up the car. The parts might be valuable or for a classic model.

Parts you might be able to keep, as long as they're not damaged, include:

  • seats and seat covers
  • wheels
  • windshield wipers
  • engine
  • gearbox
  • suspension

Don't forget, the structural frame of a category B car has to be destroyed! 🚗

Insurance may cover payments for car finance if your car is written-off as category B

If you bought your car on finance and it's written off as category B, there's a chance your insurance payout money might cover the rest of your payments.

This won't always be the case though and there a few options to get enough money to repay your car finance company.

Check that your insurer's valuation is fair

Look at what similar cars are currently being sold for to check if your insurer's valuation is fair. Make sure the cars you're looking at are about the same age and mileage as yours was before the write-off.

If you need help finding details about your car - like its previous owners and MOT status - you can use our free car checker tool.

If you don't think your insurer's valuation is fair, you can try to negotiate a bigger payout.

Double check to see if you have GAP insurance

Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) insurance covers you for the "gap" between your insurer's payout and the amount you still owe on your finance agreement. Some finance deals include gap insurance as a perk, so it's worth checking.

Speak with the company you financed the car with

Your car finance company can help you decide the best option based on your circumstances.

They might be able to come up with a different payment plan or offer you a new car under a new finance agreement.

There are four types of written-off cars: A, B, N and S
There are four types of written-off cars: A, B, N and S

Legally, you need to tell the DVLA about your category B write-off

When your car is scrapped, you need to tell the DVLA. If you don't, you could be faced with a £1000 fine 🚫

The DVLA has strict rules that mean you have to tell them when you sell or scrap a car. With insurance write-offs, you're technically doing both (the DVLA classes an insurance write-off as you selling your car to your insurer to be scrapped).

Even if you buy your category B car back for parts, you'll need to get the main body of it crushed. So that means you need to tell the DVLA that your car's been scrapped.

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Updated on 31st March 2023