RAC Cars News


What Does 'Cat C' Or 'D' Mean When Buying A Car?

By raccars Published

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You may have noticed the terms 'Cat C' or 'Cat D' used to describe cars in classified ads, but what does this actually mean? These are the terms used by insurers to categorise the level of damage sustained by a car in an accident. Categories A to D are used to describe cars which have been classed as write offs.

Write offs are declared when insurance companies decide that the value of the car is less than the cost of repairing it after an accident. The same decision could be taken for cars which have suffered water damage or some form of criminal activity. Insurers will sometimes allow cars they have classed as write offs to be kept and repaired by the original owner or sold on to other companies who deal with such vehicles.

Category D is used to describe a car where the repair cost was considered excessive, although less than the value of the car. Category C describes a car so badly damaged that it would cost less to repair than its value. As insurers work on the basis of the lowest market value when giving valuations, sometimes it takes very little damage to leave a car designated a write off.

For example, a ten year old car with a small dent might cost £800 to repair. The insurer notices that the average market value of the car is £1,000, so may decide to class this as a Category D write off. However, if the car were in particularly good condition elsewhere, it could be worth more than the average, so if the car were to be repaired and sold, someone could make some money.

If a car deemed to be worth £1,000 receives damage which would cost £1,200 to repair, it would be classed as a Category C write off. In this case, it can still be repaired and returned to use, but the DVLA requires a Vehicle Identity Check for it to be classed as roadworthy. This test does not however prove the quality of any repairs carried out, so if you are interested in buying a car labelled as Category D, it's important to make sure a mechanic checks out its roadworthiness and the standard of any repairs.

Cars registered as Categories A and B have been so badly damaged that they cannot be put back on the road as they would be unsafe. Category A cars can only be used as scrap metal while Category B cars can be stripped of usable parts, which can then be sold.

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