Buyer beware: watch out for the insurance write-offs

Posted on September 25th, 2013 by James Luckhurst

Car for saleAround 625 cars a day are revealed as insurance write-offs, posing a significant risk to used car buyers.  That’s the warning from HPI, whose records show that around one in 33 vehicles checked in 2012 was an insurance total loss, otherwise known as a write-off.

This equates to more than 223,000 cars per year being dangerously repaired and sold on to unsuspecting consumers.

Every vehicle that are written off is put in to one of four categories, depending on the level of its condition. The categories include cars that can be repaired and returned to the road, or ones that are recommended to be totally scrapped and never allowed back on the road again.

It is not illegal to repair or return ‘written off for salvage’ 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)*.  However, HPI says a lack of good quality second hand cars for sale, means unscrupulous sellers are using a variety of ways of conning used car buyers out of their money.

Daniel Burgess, managing director of HPI, says: “Criminals continue to capitalise on a shortage of used cars for sale by disguising write-offs as a good buy.  It’s all too easy to be taken in by shiny paintwork and a low price, but it could be hiding a multitude of faults that haven’t been fixed.

“Unscrupulous vendors will sell a write-off to make a quick profit but if the vehicle is not properly repaired any price is too high.”

The ABI Categories of ‘Write offs’ is as follows:

Category A

Scrap only – i.e. with few or no economically salvageable parts and of value only for scrap metal e.g. total burnouts.  These vehicles should not appear on the road.

Category B  

Break for spare parts if economically viable.  These vehicles should not reappear on the road.

Category C

Repairable total loss vehicles where repair costs exceed the vehicle’s pre-accident value.

Category D

Repairable total loss vehicles where repair costs do not exceed the vehicle’s pre-accident value.

For further information visit the HPI check website.