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What is Cat N?

  Thursday, 23 January 2020

What is Cat N and what does it mean?

Cat N auction car

In October 2017, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) introduced new car insurance write-off categories for road vehicles, replacing the previous Cat C and Cat D classifications with Cat S and Cat N respectively. The new categories were endorsed by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and the Department for Transport (DfT). Both Cat S and Cat N were introduced to better reflect the growing complexities of repairing 21st century vehicles.

When a car insurance claim is made for a vehicle following an accident or damage due to theft, flood or fire, the insurer will review the vehicle’s damage to ascertain whether the cost of repair is worthwhile – aligned to the vehicle’s value.

Since October 2017, accident-damaged vehicles that are deemed a write-off by an insurer but do not have structural or chassis damage have been classified Cat N. That’s because, despite the car’s structural integrity being intact, the repair costs would still be greater than the cost of replacing the vehicle altogether for the claimant.

What merits structural damage on a vehicle write-off?

Structural damage to a vehicle is basically damage to any part or component that is part of the main body of the vehicle or used to maintain the body’s structural integrity. Components or parts that are bolted onto a car’s structure or chassis are not deemed part of its structure or frame. Structural components that commonly sustain damage include:

  • Suspension mounts
  • Lower and upper frame rails
  • A, B and C pillars
  • Rear window frames
  • Rocker panels

Is Cat D the same as Cat N?

In essence, yes Category D vehicles are now classified as Category N. However, cars already classified as Cat D will not be reassessed by insurers. This means there will still be a high number of Cat D vehicles for sale on the used car market for many years to come.

As with the new Cat N, the old Cat D classification meant that vehicles were a write-off but hadn’t sustained serious damage and could be restored to roadworthy condition without having to inform or re-register the vehicle with the DVLA.

The reasoning behind replacing Cat D with Cat N was simply to reinforce that these vehicles had non-structural damage.

Can you repair a Cat N vehicle?

Of the two new car insurance write-off categories – Cat S and Cat N – the latter vehicles are likely to be easier to repair. When a vehicle is classified a Category N, it means that the car hasn’t sustained structural damage and the only repair work required is normally aesthetic. This means you might have to replace bodywork, but this is something you could either undertake yourself or get a trusted bodyshop firm nearby to take a look.

Buying a Cat N car to repair can be a savvy move, particularly if you are planning to retain the vehicle until the end of its safe, working life. As we’ll touch upon shortly, it’s not as straightforward if you plan to repair a Cat N car to sell on the open market. However, there are hundreds of Cat N cars out there that are perfectly repairable, providing you can source the right replacement parts such as bumpers, panels, headlights and so on.

Remember – if you don’t want to have to fork out for brand-new replacement parts from the vehicle’s manufacturer, we’ve got over 100,000 recycled car parts for all manner of vehicles, each of which have been cleaned, tested and covered by our 90-day guarantee.

Is a Cat N car more expensive to insure?

Although it’s very possible to get an insurance policy for a Category N vehicle, the premiums are almost certain to be higher than if you’d bought a brand-new car or even a non-damaged used model. It’s important you are up front and honest with your insurer, informing them that the car you wish to insure has been classified as Cat N. If you don’t and your insurer later finds out that you lied on your policy forms, your policy will be automatically invalidated, technically leaving you uninsured at the wheel.

Will a Cat N categorisation affect my insurance?

If your vehicle has been involved in an accident, causing it to be written-off as a Category N vehicle, your existing insurance policy will be ended by your insurer. This means you will need to seek new insurance quotes for your vehicle as a Cat N car. Unfortunately, this categorisation will undoubtedly have an effect on your monthly premiums, as insurers will deem it to be a greater risk to you and other road users than non-damaged vehicles.

Does a Cat N car need a new MOT?

If your car has been deemed a Cat N write-off, don’t despair. It doesn’t mean your vehicle is automatically unroadworthy – far from it. In fact, you don’t need to do anything to continue using the car. The DVLA does not insist on newly categorised Cat N vehicles having a new MoT before returning to the road. Instead, the DVLA is happy to wait for the vehicle’s next MoT when its existing one runs out.

When you consider that a Cat N classification means that a vehicle has only sustained cosmetic damage, it’s unsurprising that the DVLA doesn’t insist on fresh MoTs. Providing the cosmetic damage can be repaired cost-effectively, you should have no qualms about getting behind the wheel of your Cat N car – providing you’ve notified your insurer of its new classification, of course!

Is it possible to buy back Cat N cars from my insurer?

In the event that your insurer writes off your vehicle as a Cat N, they will typically retain the car and pay you compensation in line with its pre-accident value. However, you are entitled to reject the compensation and negotiate to buy back your newly classified Category N car if you are prepared to restore it to roadworthy condition yourself.

Unlike Cat A and Cat B vehicles, which insurers are not legally allowed to sell back to drivers due to the severity of their damage, Cat N and Cat S vehicles can be sold back to vehicle owners. Again, this may be an attractive option if you know what you are doing with cars, you have a trusted mechanic that can get the job done and you plan to keep the vehicle for the rest of its working life.

What’s the best way to sell on a Category N vehicle?

Now that you’ve understood that a Cat N vehicle loses much of its former value and becomes more expensive to insure, you might want to accept the write-off and take the compensation pay-out from your insurer to put towards buying a replacement vehicle.

At ASM Auto Recycling, we work with many car insurers to accept and recycle Category N vehicles from accidents that occur throughout the year. There may be certain car parts that can be recycled, ready for use in another used car. That’s why we put all salvage vehicles through our state-of-the-art vehicle dismantling facilities, allowing us to de-pollute parts of vehicles that can’t be reused in the most environmentally friendly manner, whilst setting aside those used car parts that can be resold with our very own three-month parts guarantee.

If you currently own a vehicle that’s been classified as a Cat N, we would be happy to accept your vehicle for safe and efficient dismantling and recycling. With a vehicle collection service available or the option to drop your Cat N car off from your local ASM Auto Recycling site, it’s never been easier to get rid of your Cat N vehicles in Central England.

To enquire about our car scrappage services, call our friendly, experienced team today on 01844 268 940 or drop us a line at admin at asm-autos dot co dot uk.

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