Insurance write-off and unrecorded salvage vehicles

insurance write off and unrecorded salvage vehicles

Out in the jungle of insurance write-off status, there’s the beyond-repair category A write-off, the still-hopeful category N…and then there’s a highly unusual creature called a Category U, unrecorded salvage vehicles. And, just like an elusive animal out in the wild, it’s a rare, but not unheard of find. 

Often referred to as ‘unrecorded salvage’, a car that falls under category U might look like a decent purchase on the surface. Dig a little deeper, however, and you may uncover some major issues that are undocumented and will make your purchase problematic.  

We’re here to help demystify what the main write-off categories are and why it’s important to check for them. We’ll also go through why you should be extra cautious if you come across a category U and tell you why Car Guide check is one of the best solutions on the marketplace for checking for insurance write-offs.

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Insurance write-off categories explained

First, in case you’re not familiar with the various categories of write-offs, here’s a breakdown. If you’re looking to buy a vehicle that’s been damaged, then it’s likely to fall under one of the following categories:

Category A 

These vehicles have extensive damage and no salvageable parts. These are not deemed suitable for resale and are required to be completely destroyed.

Category B

This category refers to severe structural damage. Again, these can’t be resold, however, some parts can still be salvaged.

Category S

These are vehicles that have substantial damage that the insurance company deems are not economically viable. They can still be repaired privately and returned to the road once they’ve undergone a thorough set of checks.

Category N

This is a salvaged vehicle where the repair cost does not exceed the retail pre-accident value. They can be repaired privately and returned to the road.

So what do these mean for you as a buyer? Well, if you run a car check and the vehicle falls under Category A or B, you’ll definitely want to reconsider your purchase. These kinds of cars are beyond repair and will need to be scrapped or broken down to resell the usable parts. 

Anything under a category S or N and the insurance company involved has deemed there’s a chance for repair. But how economically viable this will be will depend on the extent of repairs required. That will also dictate whether the insurance company wants to be involved in helping repair the vehicle.

You could repair a category S, however, you’ll probably end up paying much more to repair the car than you did to buy it (and the insurance company won’t want to foot the bill). You’ll also need to run it through an SVA test and MOT before taking it on the road again.

What it means when a car is Category U, or unrecorded salvage

While the categories mentioned above are the main ones for write-offs, you can sometimes come across vehicles that fall under a Category U.

Otherwise known as ‘unrecorded salvage’, a car under a category U write off has damage that, for whatever reason, hasn’t been reported to the insurance company. That may be as a result of the driver being uninsured, or only having third-party insurance. It may also be an indication that the vehicle is stolen (which you definitely don’t want to buy). In other words, the details surrounding the accident’s circumstances are hazy at best. And the extent of the damage may not be completely documented given that it wasn’t reported to an insurance company in the first place.

The bottom line? A category U is a risky purchase and one you’ll probably want to steer clear of. But there’s a problem. Since most category Us don’t have their damage officially documented, they can be difficult to spot. Even worse, current gaps in the MIAFTR database mean that quite a few of these vehicles can pass through history checks without any damage being detected. In fact, the scale of the problem is quite severe as detailed in this article

So how can you check the full write-off status of a vehicle in confidence and find out the full extent of its damage? Our car check is one of the best ways to do this.

Check insurance write-off status and unrecorded salvage with Car Guide

Don’t get caught off guard by a written-off vehicle with a patchy history. Our car check is one of the most comprehensive out on the marketplace giving you the full picture of a vehicle’s history and future running costs. 

As part of our paid check, we also offer write-off status. However, unlike most other car checkers, we use our the official database, ensuring you see the right write-off status for every car you check. On top of that, we also have our own database of unrecorded salvage records. Not only is this something most of our competitors don’t have, but it’s also incredibly comprehensive, giving you a clearer picture of what damage a vehicle may have actually sustained. 

Buying a used car? Car Guide is here to help. Give it a try today.

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  • Full MOT History
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  • Detailed Technical Data
£ 6.99 One off payment

Everything with a free account plus:

  • 2 x Car Checks
  • Shortlist & Compare Cars
  • 1 x Buyer's Report which includes:
  • Outstanding Finance Check
  • Insurance Write-Off
  • Ex-Salvage Register Check
  • Stolen or Scrapped
  • Valuation
  • Upcoming Repairs & Costs
  • Service Schedules & Costs
£ 10.99 One off payment

Everything with a free account plus:

  • Unlimited Car Checks!
  • Shortlist & Compare Cars
  • 2 x Buyer's Report which include:
  • Outstanding Finance Check
  • Insurance Write-Off
  • Ex-Salvage Register Check
  • Stolen or Scrapped
  • Valuation
  • Upcoming Repairs & Costs
  • Service Schedules & Costs

Frequently Asked Questions

An insurance write-off means a vehicle is unsafe to go back on the road due to severe damage or that the damage is beyond economic repair. Find out more about insurance write-offs and unrecorded salvage vehicles here.

The easiest way to check if a vehicle has been written-off is to buy a vehicle history check with Car Guide. It is the most comprehensive car check on the market and also offers unrecorded salvage check. Click here to find out more about insurance write-offs and unrecorded salvage records.

There are some write-off categories that may offer good value for buyers if the repair has been carried out professionally. Find out more about write-offs and unrecorded salvage records here.

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