What is an Insurance Write-off and What Does This Mean For My Car?

Posted by Ben Davidson about 11 months ago

So you've been involved in a vehicle accident and your insurance company has informed you that your vehicle is a write-off. Now what? And what is a 'write off' anyway?

 

If your car is already quite old, this might not be such terrible news. But if your vehicle is brand new or you've invested in modifications, the fact that your vehicle is a write-off might leave you stunned. To help you get your head around your situation, here's insurance writes off explained.


 

What Is An Insurance Write-off?

 

A write-off (or total loss) is the phrase used within the insurance world to denote that the vehicle's damage sustained in the accident or collision have made it either uneconomical to repair, or unsafe to use on the road. Usually this means that the insurance company expects that the cost of parts, paints and labor that would be required to repair the car to a safe and manufacturer-approved standard will come to more than around half to two-thirds of the vehicle's market value before the accident occurred. The 'repair up to' value will depend on which insurance company you use, and you might have some luck if you push back on the total loss decision. Bear in mind that there usually isn't much wriggle room in this calculation, but if it's a couple of per cent, your insurance company may be lenient or make another arrangement with you.

 

How Much Will I Get Paid?

 

The first thing your insurance company will do is work out your vehicle's pre accident value (PAV), which is the amount your vehicle would fetch on the current market if you had decided to sell your car before you had a chance to crash it. Once the insurance company has devised a market value, they'll offer you a payout to your bank account. The payout is not necessarily the full pre-accident value, as you may have excess applicable, depending on the accident circumstances. You can dispute the PAV if you think your car is worth more than you're being offered, but you may have to provide examples from sites like Autotrader or Craigslist of other cars of a similar spec, engine size and age currently sitting at a higher price. If you opt to accept the payout, your car will be retained by your insurer for salvage.


 

Can I Keep My Car And Get it Repaired?

 

This is where things can become a little complicated. The short answer to this question is: it depends. If you're reluctant to part with your car, your insurer might give you the option to retain and fix the vehicle yourself or take it to a local repairer who can offer you a good price on parts and repair work. This will only be possible if an engineer deems your vehicle safe to repair. As a Car accident victim, you'll be all too aware that it would be unwise for an insurer to approve a vehicle for repair if it's never going to be safe to drive, as this will endanger you, your future passengers, and other road users. For this reason, permission to keep and repair your car will depend on the salvage category your insurer's engineer assigns it.

 

Whether your car is your baby, or you're glad to get rid of it, a write off can be a daunting situation. These pointers will help you work things out without much stress.


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