Ireland's Publication for the refinishing & associated Industries

Don’t write off a write off

HPI offers used car buyers a guide on how to purchase an insurance write-off that is not only safe to be on the road, but could save them 50% off the ticket price


HPI, provider of the HPI Check®, uncovers 649 vehicles per day for sale, which have been declared insurance write-offs, but says “not all insurance write-offs are created equal”.  Whilst some write-offs are not fit to be allowed back on the road, HPI reminds used car buyers that others can be professionally repaired and legitimately returned to the UK’s roads; they could even be a bargain in disguise.

All vehicles that are written off are put in to one of four categories by the Association of British Insurers (ABI), depending on the level of its condition. The categories include cars that are instructed to be either scrapped or broken down for parts because the damage is too severe for repair and should never be allowed back on the road again (Category A or B); or cars that can be repaired and returned to the road, but are not economically viable to do so, so are recommended to be scrapped (Category C and D).

However, it is not illegal to repair or return ‘written off for salvage’ Category C and D vehicles back to the road as long as the seller declares the facts and provides evidence that the car has passed a Vehicle Identity Check (VIC)*.   In a repaired state a category write-off vehicle is normally worth 50% – 70% of the equivalent of a non-categorised car.

Neil Hodson, Managing Director for HPI explains, “The real risk with buying a write-off is paying good money for a vehicle that’s been badly repaired and is a danger to drive, or worst still, should never have been put back on the UK roads in the first place. Unscrupulous sellers patch up total loss vehicles and sell them on to unsuspecting buyers for a quick profit. If a write-off hasn’t been properly repaired, any price is too high. However, there are write-off categories that if repaired professionally, offer good value for buyers.”

If a car is written-off by an insurance company, a VIC marker is placed against the DVLA record. Anyone buying a car with a VIC marker against it needs to ensure it has passed a VIC test, before they can get the V5 and tax the vehicle.  The VIC test takes place at a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and buyers can find their nearest centre by visiting

Hodson continues: “An HPI Check gives used car buyers the complete picture of a vehicle’s history, including revealing if the car has been an insurance write-off and if so, which category. Armed with this information the buyer is able to negotiate a realistic price for the car, whether it’s been repaired or not.

“If it’s not repaired the value of the car is very much down to the state of damage and the cost of repair, so accurately estimating the cost of repair before taking the car on is crucial.  Therefore, those looking to invest in a car that has been declared an insurance write-off, should look to have it inspected by a suitably qualified individual.  And any repairs should be carried out by a qualified mechanic with a good reputation.”