Fleet News

HPI warns of threat of category B insurance write-offs

HPI is warning dealers about the potential number of Category B insurance write-offs being dangerously repaired and returned to UK roads for sale rising. These are vehicles that have been recommended by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to be crushed or broken down for spare parts or scrap.

“The Government’s Scrappage scheme gave the UK new car market a fantastic boost, but the continuing lack of good quality second hand cars for sale, means unscrupulous sellers are using a variety of ways of conning used car buyers,” says Daniel Burgess, automotive director for HPI. “Criminals have been capitalising on this shortage by disguising Category B write-offs as a good buy. An HPI Check will provide dealers purchasing a used car the complete picture of a vehicle’s history, as well as revealing if the car has been an insurance write off and if so, which category. This offers protection from paying money for a vehicle that is not fit for purpose and a possible safety risk to the dealer’s customer.”

All vehicles that are recorded as write offs by insurance companies in the UK are put in to one of four categories, depending on the level of its condition. The categories include cars that can be repaired and returned to the road, or ones that are recommended to be totally scrapped and never allowed back on the road again.

It is not illegal to repair and return ‘written off for salvage’ vehicles back to the road, however all classifications excluding Category D must pass a Vehicle Identity Check (VIC) with the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA). Insurers notify the DVLA of all cars ‘written off’ within salvage categories A, B, C and D. This notification will set a ‘VIC marker’ against the DVLA vehicle record for Category A, B and C write-off. While a VIC marker remains set, DVLA won’t issue a registration certificate V5C, or vehicle license reminder V11. VOSA carries out the VIC which is designed to confirm the car’s identity, not its road worthiness. This helps to ensure that the genuine car is returned to the road in a bid to reduce the problem of ringing – when stolen cars are given the identity of a written-off vehicle. The VIC marker will only be removed when the car passes a VIC test by VOSA.

Burgess continues, “1 in 25 vehicles checked by HPI are recorded as insurance write-offs and the insurers are writing off over 500,000 cars a year, which confirms the scale of the risk to dealers and their customers. However, a check against HPI’s registers will tell you if the car has ever been written off, giving you the information you need.”

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