What Should I Do if My Car Is Written Off?

What Should I Do if My Car Is Written Off (1)

What does having your car written off mean? When your insurance company declares your car a total loss, the damage may not appear to be severe, but it may be hidden beneath the surface. If you aren’t prepared, navigating the process can be stressful, so Budget Insurance has put together a detailed guide to help break down the process, explain how an insurance company will evaluate your vehicle after an accident, and why it’s a benefit to get car insurance.

What makes a car written off?

A car that has been written off means that the cost of repairing the vehicle after an accident or other damage is deemed to be greater than the car’s value. In this case, the insurance company may declare the car a total loss and, rather than repairing it, will usually pay the owner the vehicle’s current market value. This means the car can no longer be driven and must be scrapped.

What is the car write-off procedure?

Following a car accident, your insurer will evaluate the damage to your vehicle. If they deem the cost of repairs to be uneconomical, the vehicle will be declared a write-off. This usually occurs when the cost of repairs is high in comparison to, or greater than, the insured value of your vehicle.

The following will happen for a car written off: 

  1. The car will be assessed for damage following the accident
  2. The cost of repairs will be estimated and compared to the car’s current market value
  3. If the cost of repairs is deemed to be more than the car’s value, the insurer will probably declare it a loss
  4. The insurer will pay the policyholder the car’s current market value minus any deductibles or policy limits 
  5. The policyholder will sign over the title of the car to the insurance company and sell the car for scrap

It is the cost of repairs in relation to the car’s value that determines whether a vehicle is a total loss. Furthermore, some insurance companies have their own internal process for determining whether or not a vehicle is a total loss.1

What do I do after a car accident or collision?

If you are involved in a car crash, these are the steps we advise you take:

  • Record the date, time and location of the accident
  • Note the make, model and license plate numbers of all vehicles involved in the accident
  • Collect the personal details (name and ID number) of all drivers involved, including their insurance details
  • It’s helpful to get contact details of any witnesses at the scene too. This may help you in the future if there is a dispute
  • Contact your insurance company to get authorisation for the correct towing company to tow your vehicle[2]. The towing companies that arrive at the scene of the accident might pressure you to use them. If you do not use an authorised towing company (and confirm with your insurance company that they are, as the tow truck operators might tell you they are authorised) you may be liable for the cost of the towing and the subsequent storage costs of the vehicle

For more detailed information, take a look at What to do in a car accident.


Frequently asked questions about having a car written off

  1. How is a settlement figure determined?

The settlement figure is determined by calculating the insured value of the vehicle.[1] The selected value will be calculated by comparing the Trade, Market or Retail prices of similar vehicles, depending on which insurance cover you selected initially, and then taking into account mileage, condition of the vehicle, and any upgrades the vehicle might have had to determine your car’s insured value.

The BetterCar Value insurance option is available from Budget Insurance, an authorised financial services provider with FSP number 18178. If you invest in the BetterCar Value option, your car will be replaced with a younger model with less mileage. T’s & C’s apply.

  1. Can I keep my car after it’s been a write-off?

Once the car is written off, you can ask your insurance company to allow you to keep it if it is not financed. If agreed to, the cash settlement will be reduced with the projected salvage value.T’s & C’s will apply.

  1. How do insurers determine if a car is a write-off? 

A car can be declared a write-off when the cost of repairs to the vehicle is deemed more than the car’s value. This occurs under the following circumstances:

  • The vehicle is involved in a severe accident
  • The car sustains significant damage from a natural disaster, like a fire
  • The car has significant mechanical or structural issues that make it uneconomical to repair 

Get a car insurance quote from Budget Insurance

When you’re selecting the right insurance for you and your family, make sure you fully understand the different options available. Budget Insurance, an authorised financial services provider with FSP number 18178, offers four options, Comprehensive car insurance, BetterCar Insurance, Third-party Only and Third-party Fire and Theft insurance. Each one is tailored to suit our customer’s un needs. Apply for a quick car insurance quote online today. 



[1] AutoTrader: If my car is written off, how much will I get?

[2] AA: Know your towing rights 

Disclaimer: The information in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal, or medical advice.