Vehicle write-off codes to be updated

Aims to remove more unsafe vehicles from the road and provide clarity for used-car buyers

New car write-off categories for vehicles are being introduced on 1 October 2017, replacing the current A, B, C and D system.

The new write-off categories will be:

  • A – Scrap
  • B – Break
  • S – Structurally damaged repairable
  • N – Non-structurally damaged repairable

The new system has been agreed after two years of discussion between insurers, vehicle manufacturers, police and the salvage industry. It aims to take more dangerous vehicles off the road, and make the “total loss” classification more transparent for consumers buying used cars.

What the new categories mean

There’s actually no change to categories A (scrap) and B (break), which are explained in full here. These categories are for more severely damaged vehicles which can’t ever go back on the road.

The biggest difference is in the new categories S and N.  The complexity and cost of repairing modern vehicles can easily lead to insurers writing off cars with relatively minor damage. Categories S and N shifts the focus from the cost of repair to the type of structural damage, i.e. cosmetic, light damage or structural.

It’s hoped the changes will make it easier for buyers to understand the history of a vehicle they’re considering buying, and why an insurer has written it off.

The new system also introduces minimum qualifications for anyone who assesses and grades total loss vehicles.

A major drawback of the write-off system

The write-off codes set out “best practices” but they’re not currently bound by legislation, meaning there is nothing to stop unscrupulous repairers in the salvage trade putting vehicles that should have been scrapped back on the road.

Never-the-less, the efforts of all the stakeholders involved in creating the new codes demonstrates a desire to move with the times.

Tamzin Isacsson, Director of Communications at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said,

“Manufacturers design and build vehicles to the highest possible safety standards. Today’s announcement is a positive and significant step by industry, insurers and governing bodies to further improve safety on our roads and ensure there is clarity on whether an accident-damaged vehicle is fit for repair or should be scrapped.”

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Released On 18th Jul 2017

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