Written by, Marija Petkova
Updated December, 13, 2022
If you’re looking to buy a used car, you’ve probably come across models labelled as Cat D.
Cat D cars are insurance write-offs that were previously damaged and deemed too expensive to repair by the insurer.
While these cars can be temptingly cheap, they’re not without their risks.
In this guide, we’ll explain what exactly are Cat D cars, whether it is worth buying one and does Cat D affect insurance.
Let’s dive in.
When a car insurer decides that repairing a damaged car is too expensive compared to the car’s value, the vehicle is marked as an insurance write-off.
Depending on the severity of the damage, cars can fall into one of four categories of insurance write-offs.
Cat A and B insurance write-offs are cars that suffered substantial damage and are beyond repair. These vehicles can not be used on the road again, so they’re either immediately crushed or used for parts.
Also read: How to tell DVLA that my car is scrapped?
Cars labelled as Cat C, on the other hand, are those that had suffered structural damage but can be repaired and safely returned to the road. Since the categorisation system was updated in 2017, Cat C was replaced with Cat S.
Cat D insurance write off or, now known as Cat N, is the least serious category of insurance write-offs.
A car that hasn’t sustained any structural damage and can be put back on the road once it is repaired is marked as a category D write-off if the insurance company decides that repairing it is not cost-effective.
This usually happens if the cost of repairing exceeds 50% of the car’s total market value.
While some cars are marked as insurance Cat D write-offs due to issues with braking, steering or electrics, there are plenty of Cat D cars that suffered nothing more than light paint or bodywork damage.
However, on old, low-value cars, even the slightest scrape can result in a vehicle being classified as a category D write-off simply because the cost of repairing it outweighs its market value.
Insuring a Cat D car is possible, but it can be quite challenging. Some insurance companies and brokers refuse to cover any write-offs regardless of how minor the damage was.
Most of them, though will offer you a cover, but they’ll increase the cost of your premium.
One way to pay less for a Cat D car insurance is to insure it with the same insurance company that had previously written it off.
But the fact is that either way, you’re likely to pay slightly more overall.
Remember that trying to save money by not declaring your car’s status is a bad idea, as the insurer will have the right to invalidate your car insurance on the grounds of non-disclosure, the same as not declaring car modifications.
Another thing you should be aware of is that even though when a car is marked a Cat D write-off, the DVLA and DVSA are not informed, and the car is not required to undergo a Vehicle Information Check, some insurers may insist on a professional engineer’s report or an inspection before they offer you a cover.
Buying Cat D cars is not uncommon. Since they are generally sold for up to 30% less than normal, many garages, car dealers, and even private buyers have been purchasing these vehicles.
There are a number of Cat D insurance write-offs that have suffered only minor damage and have been repaired by the highest standards so that you can get your dream model for a bargain price.
Or, if you’re skilled enough and willing to spend some time in the garage, you can repair the car for less than it’s worth and save up some money along the way.
However, before making the purchase, it is a good idea to try and estimate the repair costs and decide whether it will be worth it.
Even though Cat D cars can sometimes prove to be very good value, buying one can be quite risky.
While car traders have a legal obligation to declare if a car has been written off, private sellers only have to make sure that the vehicle is described. So, before making a purchase, you should definitely consider checking the car’s history through one of the companies that offer vehicle history checks.
Another issue with buying a categorised car is that you can never know exactly what happened to it and how it has been repaired competently.
Therefore, to avoid the risk of ending up with a car that has been poorly repaired, it is recommended to invest in a professional inspection.
Moreover, if you’re planning on reselling the car, you should know that because of the write-off marker, the car would be worth far less than one with a clean history.
Did you know that the UK’s car insurance market is the third largest in Europe?
So, if you were wondering does Cat D affect insurance, the answer is yes. Any car marked as an insurance write off including d-category cars that only had the slightest damage and had been perfectly repaired, will cost you more to insure.
However, regardless of the higher premiums, buying and repairing a Cat D write-off can work out cheaper than purchasing an undamaged model and save you some money overall.
My name is Marija, and I'm a financial writer at DontDisappointMe. Although finance might not be everyone's cup of tea, my 10+ years of working in one of the biggest banks in my country, and my interest in extensive research on everything finance/investment-related, have made me somewhat of an expert in the field (if I do say so myself). No longer having the passion to work in a corporate setting, I decided that I couldn't let all of this knowledge go to waste so I started writing. And, here I am! Today I try to share my knowledge with my audience in the hopes of making this topic as simple and interesting as possible. In my leisure time, I like spending time with my family and travelling to new locations.