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What is a Cat A, Cat B, Cat S or Cat N write-off car?

What is a Cat A, Cat B, Cat S or Cat N write-off car?

When a car is in an accident, insurers may deem it to be a write-off. This can be for a variety of reasons, but most of the time, it is down to the accident being so severe that it is not financially sound to fix the car. When buying a car you can easily check accident damage with a simple history check to give you peace of mind.

The age of the car can have an impact on its worth, the older it is, the smaller the ding needs to be for it to be written-off, but it does go case by case. 

Just because your car has been written off doesn’t mean it cannot be fixed or driven again, it means that your insurer is not prepared to pay out for it to be fixed and will instead provide you with a lump sum to buy an alternative vehicle. 

When buying a used car, it is wise to know if the vehicle has been written off either previously or is still in a state of needing repairs. We know, the next question might be how to check if a car is a write-off – you may be aware that not all used car sellers are honest, but thankfully there is a way to find out. 

Find out more about the categories a car could be: 

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How to check if a car is a write-off

With Car Guide you can check if a car insurance company has written off a car in our premium check. It’s as simple as putting in the car registration and reading through the information. Write-off check is not included in our free check, however, unrecorded salvage check is.

Understanding what it all means can be quite challenging, which is why we’ve also put together all the information on the varying categories that you might come across when looking at insurance write-offs.

What is Cat A


If a car is put in this category, it means it is suitable for scrap only. It’s kept for the cars that sustain the worst type of damage when in a road traffic collision. 

It’s beyond repair, and for this reason, it should be scrapped. A car that has this category attached to it will not just be crumpled and damaged; they could be completely burnt out by fire, and irreparable.

What is Cat B


This category is also reserved for cars that are not able to be repaired. It certainly won’t be legal to drive on the roads again, but the key difference between this category and Cat A is that it can be sold for parts. 

This means if a particular part of the car is intact or damage-free, it can be sold, although the buyer should still be made aware of the issues surrounding the original vehicle.

What is Cat S


This is where we get into purchasing cars that can be repaired, although this may come at a high cost to the buyer. 

Cat S’s are quite common, they usually mean the vehicle has sustained some sort of structural damage, this can be through a bent or twisted chassis, damage to the crumple zone or issues with vital parts of the car. This car can be professionally repaired and put back on the roads. 

Cat S refers to vehicles with damage after 2017, if this type of damage occurred before then, it would be classed as a Cat C on the documentation.

What is Cat N


This category is probably the most seemingly safest type of write-off category to purchase as it means the car has not sustained any structural damage – but beware. It usually refers to a cosmetic or electrical issue that occurs after a collision. 

You might be wondering how a car can be a write-off with such minimal damage, it’s quite simple really, and it is more common with modern vehicles, especially when it involves electrical safety elements. These issues could be to do with the braking system or steering components which could end in disaster. Cat N refers to cars with damage after 2017; if the damage occurred before then, it would be classed as Cat D. 

Check your car today

As you can see, there are many different types of categories for a car to be written off under. Purchasing a car which is one of the above categories can mean you face a higher premium for your car insurance. 

If you look at a used car and complete your car check with Car Guide for a small fee, you’ll know if the vehicle in question has any previous insurance write-offs against it. In some cases, you might wish to purchase one of these written-off cars as they seem like such a great deal, but we would advise against it, especially if you are not a professional at fixing cars – no matter how tempting the price might be. 

There are other suitable checks you should make before buying a used car. 

You can make all of them by paying a one-time fee of £5.99 at Car Guide. Discover the MOT history, service history, number of owners and get a valuation of any vehicle. Car Guide helps you get the best deal for your money by buying like a pro!

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