What to Do if Your Car is Written Off

December 13, 2023

Dealing with a car accident can be a tumultuous experience, especially when you find out your vehicle is considered a write-off, aka unfixable. If you’re in an accident and your car is written off as a result, understanding your next steps can not only alleviate your stress but also ensure you are adequately compensated for the accident - especially if it wasn’t your fault. In the following guide, we’re going to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the process, your rights, and the financial implications involved. So let’s dive in.

My Car Has Been Written Off: What Do I Do

Contacting Your Insurance Company

The first step that you need to take is to promptly contact your insurance company and inform them about the incident as soon as possible; this not only accelerates the process but also helps in accurately documenting the incident's details. Your insurer will guide you through the necessary steps and paperwork required to proceed with the claim.

The Insurance Assessment Process

Generally speaking, your insurance company will be the ones to assess the damage to determine whether your car is a write-off, and this assessment is incredibly important as it’ll influence the trajectory of your insurance claim. Typically, a vehicle is only written off if the cost of repairs exceeds its value, however it's important to understand that the assessment criteria can vary between insurers.

Types of Car Write-Off Categories

In the UK, car write-offs are categorised from A to D, each indicating the level of damage. Categories A and B mean the car is not repairable and must not return to the road, while categories C and D, however, imply that the car could be repairable. If you’re dealing with a category A or B write-off, you’ll also need to start thinking about a replacement vehicle.

Knowing Your Rights and Obligations

As a policyholder with your car insurance, it’s worth noting that you have specific rights and obligations in the event your car is written off, so it’s highly recommended to review your insurance policy and understand what is and isn’t covered under your plan. Being aware of the term non fault claim - which implies that you were not at fault in the incident - can streamline the process; if you and your insurance company can prove you didn’t cause the accident, you may have the right to potential - and substantial - compensation from the other driver or their insurance company.

What Are The Financial Implications?

There’s not two ways about it; the financial implications of a car write-off are going to sting a little bit; if your vehicle is financed, you'll need to address any outstanding loans. The insurance payout typically covers the market value of the car, not necessarily the amount you owe, but if you’ve already paid off your car, you’ll also need to think about investing either in a new vehicle or rental, depending how your insurance claims process goes.

Dealing with the Aftermath of a Car Write-Off

hand holding a cellphone with car insurance showing on the screen

Once your car is declared a write-off, and the claim is settled, you'll need to decide on your next steps; this could involve buying a new car or challenging the insurer's decision if you believe it's unjust. Remember, you have the right to negotiate with your insurance company if you disagree with their assessment.

Preventing Future Car Write-Offs

While not all accidents on the road can be avoided, taking proactive measures can reduce the risk: regular maintenance, safe driving practices, and being aware of road conditions can help prevent future incidents while driving. Additionally, consider reviewing and updating your insurance policy to ensure it meets your needs and provides adequate coverage.


How long does it take for an insurance company to decide if my car is a write-off?

The time frame can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the insurance company's procedures. Typically, it takes a few days to a couple of weeks after reporting the incident.

Can I keep my car if it's declared a write-off?

Yes, in certain cases, particularly if it's a Category C or D write-off, you can choose to keep the car. However, it will need to be repaired to a roadworthy condition and pass an MOT test before you can drive it again.

What if I disagree with the market value offered by my insurer for my written-off car?

If you believe the market value offered is unfair, you can dispute it. Gather evidence such as similar cars for sale in your area and present this information to your insurer as part of your negotiation.

What should I do if I still owe finance on a car that's been written off?

You'll need to settle any outstanding finance. If the insurance payout doesn't cover the total amount, you'll be responsible for the difference. Consider having gap insurance for future scenarios, which can cover this shortfall.

Are there any additional costs I should be aware of when my car is written off?

You might face costs such as car rental expenses or public transportation fees while you're without a vehicle. Some insurance policies may cover these costs, so check your policy details.

Can I challenge the insurance company's decision on writing off my car?

Yes, if you have valid reasons to believe that your car should not be a write-off, or the category assigned is incorrect, you can challenge the decision - but you’ll need to provide supporting evidence like repair quotes or an independent assessment to support your claim.