What to do if your car is a write-off, and how to make the best of a bad sit­u­a­tion

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Rob Mar­shall

‘A car can be bought back as sal­vage, if the client makes their wishes known’ PETER JAMES IN­SUR­ANCE

New data has re­vealed that around a third of used and clas­sic cars in the UK are – or have been – classed as an in­sur­ance write off.

The fig­ures, pro­vided by on­line car his­tory check­ing ser­vice, My Car Check, sug­gest that a third of cars in the database were classed as an in­sur­ance write off at some point in the past.

But, when it comes to write-offs, how should you make the best of a bad sit­u­a­tion?


You have sev­eral op­tions if your clas­sic is ac­ci­dent-dam­aged be­yond eco­nom­i­cal re­pair. In the cases of Agreed Value poli­cies, in which the car’s value has been set­tled be­fore­hand with a spe­cial­ist in­sur­ance bro­ker, the pro­ce­dure will be eas­ier – you re­ceive the sum in cash and the in­surer keeps the car. Oth­er­wise, you may have to ne­go­ti­ate the ve­hi­cle’s true worth, which can take many weeks.

Ul­ti­mately, the write-off re­mains your prop­erty, un­less you agree to sell it to an in­sur­ance com­pany, but re­mem­ber that the onus is on you to in­form the DVLA.

Once out of your hands, it could be sold as scrap, or en­tered into a sal­vage auc­tion for ei­ther fu­ture re­pair, or dis­man­tling.

Yet, there is one key ad­van­tage to en­gag­ing a clas­sic bro­ker’s ser­vices – namely, hav­ing first re­fusal to buy the car back, if you so wish.

A spokesman from Peter James In­sur­ance says: ‘Sub­ject to cer­tain re­stric­tions, such as chem­i­cal con­tam­i­na­tion fol­low­ing a fire, a clas­sic ve­hi­cle can be bought back as sal­vage, pro­vided that the client makes his or her wishes known at the start of the claims process. Any costs will de­pend on the in­di­vid­ual ve­hi­cle, or cir­cum­stances.’

A spokesper­son for Lan­caster In­sur­ance adds: ‘In re­la­tion to costs, if a ve­hi­cle was val­ued at £10,000 and the sal­vage was de­ter­mined as £750, you would get back £9250 ( less any pol­icy ex­cess), as well as your ve­hi­cle.’

How­ever, Foot­man James ad­vises that, for £15, you can buy nild­e­duc­tion sal­vage cover and this ‘gives you the op­tion to re­tain the sal­vage of your ve­hi­cle in the event of a to­tal loss, de­duc­tion-free upon set­tle­ment of the claim, pro­vided that the ve­hi­cle is in nei­ther Cat­e­gories A or B and, there­fore, pre­vented by law from ap­pear­ing back on the road.’

Sig­nif­i­cant body dam­age re­sults in a Cat­e­gory B write-off. Such a car can only be bought for parts. IN­SUR­ANCE

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