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New insurance write-off categories come into effect on Sunday

Crash damage

Changes to the way insurers categorise damaged vehicles which are salvaged will offer used car buyers a new way of finding out more about the history of the vehicles.

From this weekend (October 1st) an update to the Salvage Code means vehicles which were structurally damaged but judged repairable will have their registration certificate – known as the V5C – marked with an ‘S’ and the following text: “This vehicle has been salvaged due to structural damage but following a technical evaluation declared suitable for repair.”

Write-offs can also be recorded as A (scrap), B (break for parts), and N (non-structurally damaged repairable).

The Association of British Insurers said this will give a clear sign to consumers considering an S or N recorded car that they should check repairs have been done to an appropriate standard, by investing in a vehicle inspection or using a recognised car history checking service.

Ben Howarth, senior policy adviser for motor and liability at the ABI, said: “Not all insurance ‘write offs’ need to be taken off the road forever and buying one of these cars can be a great way to find a bargain. The new Salvage Code should mean there is better information for anyone considering a second hand car, so (consumers) know what questions to ask and can buy with confidence.”

The ABI said it will take a while for the change to filter through the used car market.

Richard Billyeald, chief technical officer from Thatcham Research, said: “This is about providing clarity to the consumer. The changes have refocussed the process of classifying salvaged vehicles away from financial criteria to a categorisation that provides greater insight into the nature of the damage.”

DAC Graham McNulty, National Police Chief Council (NPCC) lead for motor vehicle crime, added: “I welcome the measures taken in the new Code of Practice with regard to the categorisation of vehicle salvage. 

"These steps will not only protect the public further through the additional safeguards preventing unsafe vehicles returning to the road but also help to detect and deter criminal activity. 

"The code will provide consumers with further peace of mind regarding the provenance of a vehicle prior to purchase.”

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