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Legal guide to UK motoring, sections for law enforcement, Driver licensing, learner and new drivers, buying and selling, speeding fines, owning a vehicle, wheel clamping, traffic information.

Vehicle Insurance


Insurance Salvage Catagories

When an insurance company decides not to repair a vehicle they will issue it with a salvage classification category. Salvage categories were introduced in an effort to curb vehicle crime in the UK. They were developed by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) with the assistance of vehicle recyclers, the DVLA and the UK Police Force.

The categories are as follows:

A - Not for resale. Fire damaged (burnt-out), flood damaged (contaminated or salt water), severely damaged with no serviceable parts, or heavily stripped (shell). Notification of Destruction required. (To be crushed). Recorded at DVLA & HPI.

B - Not for resale. Damaged beyond economical repair and/or severe structural damage. Notification of Destruction required. (Parts can be removed and sold). Recorded at DVLA & HPI.

C - Repairable salvage. Generally applies to older vehicles. Can be sold for repair but must now have VIC inspection. Recorded at DVLA & HPI.

D - Repairable salvage. Minimal damage sometimes stolen and found after claim has been paid, or cost of repair combined with difficulty obtaining new parts to enable a swift repair. Recorded with HPI.

X - Repairable salvage. Not recorded on any registers such as HPI. Limited or very light damage, or vehicle is new or less than 12 months old. Usually requires minimal repair work. NOT Recorded with HPI. An insurance company faced with a claim first estimates the financial cost of repairing the vehicle to its pre-accident condition. They may then say it is a 'write off' or a 'total loss'. This may give the wrong impression to people who are not familiar with the insurance or salvage industry. The cost of the repair will be based on new parts prices and garage labour charges, often making it uneconomical for the insurance company to carry out the repair. A person doing the work themselves and sourcing recycled spares can often make the repair viable. If the financial cost to the insurance company is the same or near to the market price, the insurance company would normally call this vehicle a write off which means that they will 'write off' the financial cost of the repair, not the vehicle itself. The term total loss is also often misused. It actually means the insurance company made a complete financial loss, i.e. they recovered no money from the sale of the salvage and therefore made a total financial loss on the claim. These terms have had quite a bit of bad press due to their common association with unscrupulous dealers and car thieves.

Whilst there are a few cases where 'cut and shut' vehicles have appeared back on the road, at a professional salvage dealers, they should use the category system to ensure that any vehicles coming into our yard are disposed of in a proper manner and in accordance with the category system requirements. It is the responsibility of scrappers to group there salvage and notify the DVLA of what cars they have scrapped. This prevents this cars identity being used again or being sold on itself by unscrupulous garage owners to make a fast buck. A vehicle that has previously been issued with a C or D salvage classification is not necessarily a bad vehicle to own or buy. Since each vehicle over three years old has to pass a MOT test before it can be licensed it should have been repaired to a good roadworthy standard. Obviously if you have any doubts about buying a vehicle that has been previously repaired, you can ask an independent motor engineer to inspect the vehicle before you buy it, or get an AA or RAC inspection done. Don't forget, the biggest advantage to buying a repairable salvage vehicle is the cost saving when compared to forecourt or dealership prices.

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