Three Pointers to Help You Handle a Vehicle Write-off

If you’ve been involved in a car crash and your insurance company has said that your car is a write-off, what now? And what does a ‘write off’ even mean?

If you’re happy to replace your old car anyway, a write-off may not be such bad news. But if your vehicle is new off the lot or you’ve spent money and time on modifications, hearing that your car has been written off can leave you a little bewildered. If you’re unsure what to do at this point, here’s ‘insurance write offs’ in a nutshell to help you make the right move from here.

What Is a Write-off?

An insurance write off, or ‘total loss’ as it is often called within the insurance industry, means that the damage your car sustained in the crash has deemed it either uneconomical or unsafe or to repair. Usually this means that the insurance company expects the labour, parts and manufacturer-approved paints required to get your car back to normal to cost over 50-60% of your vehicle’s market value prior to the accident. The ‘repair up to’ threshold (the point at which your insurance company declares your car a total loss) will depend on the company you’re insured with. You may be able to resist having your vehicle declared a write off, but only if the repair costs are only slightly above than the insurance company’s repair threshold.

How Much Will I Get Paid?

Your insurance company will calculate what’s known as the “pre-accident value” (PAV) of your vehicle. In essence, how much would your vehicle sell for on the current market (nationally, not locally) if you’d sold it, rather than writing it off? This value is calculated based on sites like Autotrader, which list vehicles for sale across the country. Once they have come up with that value, they’ll offer you a payout in cash. If you have excess to pay, this will be deducted from the pre-accident value before you are paid out in full. At this point, you can head out to buy a new car. You won’t be able to purchase a brand-spanking new vehicle to replace yours, as the value is based on the fact that your vehicle has racked up mileage in the time you’ve owned it, but you should be able to take the payout to a local used car dealer ( is always a good bet) and get something that is of a similar size and spec to your own. Because let’s be honest, used is so often better than new anyway!

Can I Dispute the PAV?

In short, yes. If you think your car is worth more than your insurance company says it is, you can dispute the PAV (before you accept the payout, obviously!) but be prepared to show your insurance company examples you have found of cars of a similar mileage, spec (including modifications) and engine size that are currently listed at a higher price than the PAV you were offered.

Whether your car is your baby, or you’re quite glad to be done with it, a write-off situation can be stressful. These points will help you handle it right.

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