The Complete Guide To Car Categories

Whilst searching for a second hand car, you may comes across several that have been written off at very tempting prices. If they’ve been involved in an accident, they’ll likely be categorised as a Cat S or Cat N but we discuss all the car categories in detail below.

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What Are The Different Car Categories?


Category S Car

A car that has sustained structural damage during a crash will be given a category S title. Structural damage can come in the form of damage to the crumble zones, chassis and other components.

Although they can be repaired and put back on the road, you’ll be required to re-register the repaired vehicle with the DVLA and also have it inspected before you can use it on the UK roads.

Category N Car

Category N cars on the other hand have sustained non-structural damage, which can be in the form of damaged headlights, bumpers, electrics and much more. Due to the fact that the damage is less extensive than a Cat S car, you don’t need to re-register it with the DVLA or pass an inspection.

Category B Car

Category B cars are far less common and the damage that they have sustained means that the car can’t be put back on the road. Therefore, a Cat B car is only suitable for breaking/stripping for parts.

Category A Car

Category A cars are similar to a Cat B but the parts cannot be salvaged from the car. This means that the car cannot be repaired and must be scrapped.

Category X Car

Category X cars are those that have sustained minimal damage or have more commonly been stolen but recovered.

Category U Car

Category U cars are often referred to those that are unrecorded because they haven’t been categorised as a write off. Therefore, they can be repaired and put back on the road without too much hassle.


Previous Categories – Cat C & Cat D

From October 2017, category C and category D titled cars were replaced by category S and category N titles. In terms of their meanings, Cat C cars would have sustained extensive damage and would need re-registering. Cat D cars on the other hand would have sustained much less damage and are often economical to repair but not worth the hassle for the insurance company to do themselves. This is due to the fact that insurance companies would have extra overheads such as administration and transport.

Is It Worthwhile Buying Insurance Write Off’s?

As long as you do plenty of research in terms of the car’s market value, buying an insurance write off can be a great bargain and it can make your money go a long way.

The problems with buying a write off comes when a car hasn’t been repaired properly and in essence, is a “bodge job”. However, there are ways around this because you can get it inspected (i.e. by the RAC or AA) before buying it. You can also ask to see any invoices to see whether or not genuine/OEM parts have been used in the repair.

If you are willing to take on a project, buying an insurance write off in its damaged form is often the best option. Not only do you see all the damage in its full glory but you can rest assure that it has been repaired to your standards.

However, you’ll want to ensure you thoroughly check the car over because there may be hidden damage that wouldn’t have been budgeted for with regards to the repair costs. For example, the engine may look perfectly fine in the photos but doesn’t run as it should whilst out on the road.

car insurance categories

Where To Buy Written Off Cars

Although some written off cars are available on the usual car buying platforms such as eBay or Gumtree, there are some specialist websites for buying write off’s. Copart is by far the most popular platform to buy written off cars and they usually have thousands of cars in stock. Although there is a membership fee to join, the photos that they take are very in-depth and as there is less people on the platform (when compared to the likes of eBay), the cars often go for far less.

How To Check Car Categories?

If you are in the market for a second hand car, you should always get a detailed HPI check before purchasing it. This will show you all the information about the car’s history as well as whether or not it’s previously registered or categorised as an insurance write off. This will not only give you complete peace of mind but also ensure you don’t pay over the odds for a car that’s been involved in a crash.

Insuring A Write Off

When it comes to insuring a written off car, it’s important that you notify your insurance company. Although most companies won’t have an issue, some may not provide cover due to the fact they don’t know how well the car has been repaired (i.e. if it’s a bodge job). Although there may be a slight premium, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

author dan 4car

Written By Dan

Dan has been a car enthusiast ever since he can remember and has an extensive range of cars that include classic cars that he has restored himself from a barn find condition to modern performance cars. Whether you need advice on how to install car parts or recommendations on what products to buy, Dan’s first-hand experience will certainly help.

If you want to find out more about Dan, our testing process or the website itself, visit our about page for further information.

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