Category A write-off – These vehicles are usually burnt-out and they must be totally crushed including all spare parts.
Category B write-off – These vehicles cannot return to the road and the shell must be crushed, but their spare parts may be salvaged and sold for spares.
Category S write-off – Repairable, but cost of repair is more than value of car. Possibly has some sort of structural damage (previously category C).
Category N write-off – Again repairable, but it would cost more than the car’s value to fix. Probably doesn’t have any structural damage (previously category D).
Category NWO (Not written off) – This indicates the vehicle is not written off and will not appear on HPI or the V5C.
Category POSS NWO (Possibly not written off) – This indicates the vehicle is currently not recorded but we are awaiting the insurance company to apply the category.
If an insurance company ‘writes off’ a car, it was placed in one of four categories rated from A to D, with A the most severely damaged. Category A and B cars are so badly damaged, Auto Trader will not allow them to be advertised for sale, and we would strongly advise you not to buy one, as insurance companies reckon they could not be repaired.
It is fine to buy a car from Category C or D. In both cases, they reflect a car that was repairable, but the insurers chose not to, probably because they thought it was cheaper to replace the car than repair it.
However, from 1st October 2017, categories S and N replaced the old C and D categories.
According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the new categories focus more on the condition of the car, than on the cost of repairing it.
Both Category S and N cars can be repaired and put back on the road, but the two are defined as follows:
At some point, a Category S vehicle suffered structural damage, and has been written off by the insurer as it was uneconomical to repair. This damage could be to any part of the vehicle’s structural frame, including the chassis.
A Category N vehicle has also been written off by the insurer as it was uneconomical to repair, but the difference is that is suffered non-structural damage. The vehicle’s structural frame or chassis did not suffer any damage.