What Happens to my Car After an Accident?


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By Cai Bradley

on Friday 1 December 2017


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What to do with your car after an accident generally depends on the severity of damage that’s been done to it, and whether your vehicle is deemed driveable or not by your insurance company.

Here, we aim to guide you through the procedure after a car accident, what it means if your car is written off and how you can get a replacement credit hire car after a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault.

What to do After a Car Accident in the UK

Immediately after a car accident – regardless of how major or minor it is – you should stop, turn the ignition off, and put your hazards on. From there, you should use your initiative to assess the situation and react accordingly, contacting the emergency services if necessary.

Remember that the safety of all parties involved should always be your main priority, before you begin thinking about making a claim or what you should do with your vehicle.

After major car accidents, it is likely that your car will be declared as a write-off (also labelled as being ‘totalled’) by your insurance company, if the damage is so substantial that it is no longer road-worthy.

If you are involved in a major accident and are unsure whether or not you should drive the car, the emergency services that attend the scene should be able to advise you. If you have any doubts about the drivability of the car, or feel shook-up by the accident at all, don’t drive.

However, if you are involved in a minor car accident – for example, if you bump it against a wall, or someone drives into you at a very slow speed – you may still be able to drive your car, as long as you are in the right state-of-mind and there has been no significant damage to the vehicle.

If you have been injured, it’s important that you are seen to by a medical professional as soon as possible.

Keep in mind that you are still legally obliged to stop and exchange contact details and insurance information with the other parties involved.

You should get any damages assessed and repaired (if needs be) by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible.

What is an Insurance Write-Off?

If your car is damaged in an accident and the cost of repairs amount to around 50% of the overall value of the vehicle, your insurance provider may deem the repairs uneconomical and will class it as an insurance write-off.

This usually only occurs in major car accidents, or at least incidents which leave the vehicle badly damaged. You will then receive a payout reflective of the car’s market value (how much it’s worth at the time of the accident) and the insurer will keep the vehicle, allowing you to purchase a new vehicle with the amount paid out.

What Happens if my Car is Written Off?

If your car is totalled, or written off, your insurance provider will offer a pay-out, which is typically enough to replace your vehicle with one in a similar condition to yours.

So, if you have a car accident and the vehicle is worth £12,000 at the time, your insurance provider might offer a settlement of £12,000, minus the excess (for this example, let’s say £300), providing you with a pay-out of £11,700 to purchase or lease a new car.

Car Insurance Write-Off Categories Explained

Insurance providers divide write-off cases into four different categories – Category A, Category B, Category S and Category N – included in the official Code of Practice for the Categorisation of Motor Vehicle Salvage.

Car accident damage categories provide you with information regarding the extent of damage to your vehicle, why it has been written off, and what will happen to it after the accident.

These new insurance write-off categories aren’t that different from the old ones and can be differentiated quite easily.

What is a Category A Write-Off?

Category A write-offs are essentially classed as waste, having been examined by a qualified inspector and declared as unsuitable to drive and beyond repair.

In this case, your car will be destroyed in its entirety, without any of its parts being recycled for future use.

What is a Category B Write-Off?

If a car has been registered as a Category B write-off, it has been declared unsuitable and beyond repair – but useable parts can be recycled and the car should not be crushed whole.

However, once the recyclable parts have been recovered, the rest of the vehicle is classed as waste and will be destroyed.

What is a Category S Write-Off?

Formerly known as a Category C write-off, Category S write-offs are vehicles that the insurer has decided not to repair due to damage to the structural frame or chassis, despite having been deemed fit for repair by an inspector.

The ‘S’ refers to ‘Repairable Structural’, and means that the car could be repaired, but the insurance company makes the decision that fixing the structural damage would be too costly in relation to the vehicle’s market value.

What is a Category N Write-Off?

Cars listed as a Category N (‘Repairable Non Structural’) write-off are slightly more complex, as they have been deemed suitable for repair and have not sustained any damage to the structural frame or chassis, but the insurance company has still decided not to repair the vehicle.

However, despite there being no structural damage, there could be damage to critical components such as the steering and suspension.

Credit Hire Cars and Courtesy Cars After a Non-Fault Accident

Although your insurance provider will work to give you a payout reflective of the market value of your vehicle at the time of the accident, you may be required to wait for some time to receive it. In these cases, you should be entitled to a courtesy car or a credit hire car.

Despite seeming similar at first, credit hire cars and courtesy cars serve very different purposes, as we outline below. Credit hire cars are generally more preferable as they are a like-for-like vehicle replacement. We can help you get a credit hire car at Non Fault Claims, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you’ve been involved in a non-fault car accident!

Non Fault Accident Courtesy Car

When you’ve been involved in a non-fault accident, you should be offered a courtesy car by your insurance providers to use while your damaged vehicle is being repaired.

Due to the nature of courtesy car contracts, the courtesy vehicle will not be a like-for-like replacement and is unlikely to meet your everyday needs. For example, if you drive a top-of-the-range Audi and damage it, you could be provided with a 1.0-litre Vauxhall Corsa as a courtesy car.

So, before you commit to a contract, think about what courtesy car you will get and whether it will be a suitable vehicle for your daily life.

What is a Credit Hire Car?

A credit hire car is a like-for-like hire vehicle that serves as a temporary replacement while your damaged car is being repaired after a non-fault accident.

Unlike a courtesy car, a credit hire car will be a similar type and value to your vehicle that was damaged, meaning that you will be able to continue with your every-day life without any inconvenience.

A courtesy car also has no specified time-limit for its usage, meaning that you can stay on the road for as long as it takes until your vehicle is repaired or you receive the insurance payout to cover your new vehicle if the previous one has been written off.

You may not have to pay anything back for the credit hire car if you were not the at-fault party in the accident and the compensation you receive could cover the costs.

If you’d like to claim for compensation to cover all the costs you’ve incurred because of a non-fault accident, or if you want to know more about getting a credit hire vehicle to use while your damaged car is being repaired, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today! You can complete our short contact form or call the free number provided below. We’re on hand and happy to help!

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Non Fault Claims can help you begin your potential claim, get in touch today!


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