What is a Category S car?

Vehicles in the UK are assigned different categories by insurance companies after an accident to indicate their rough level of damage. A Category S car is one that has been written off by the insurer due to structural damage (it most likely also has cosmetic damage to the exterior bodywork too). This is where the S comes from, as it stands for Structural. It’s one of the four main salvage categories, the others being Category A, Category B, and Category N. 

Until October 2017, Category N and Category S were known as Category D and C, respectively. This is why you might see them referred to by their alternative names elsewhere! In this article, we delve into whether buying, repairing and getting a category S car back on the road is a good idea. 

Why is a car given the Category S status?

Insurance companies look at the estimated cost of repairing a vehicle compared to the estimated cost of paying out on the insurance policy. By paying out on an insurance claim, they allow the policyholder to purchase a replacement vehicle with the claim proceeds.

A Category S vehicle status does not mean that the vehicle cannot be repaired. There are other categories denoting that including ones that include crushing a vehicle or solely stripping it for parts but never repairing it. Therefore, an Category S doesn’t necessarily mean the vehicle shouldn’t get back on the road once successfully repaired.

Why wasn’t the vehicle repaired through the insurer?

The vehicle was not repaired because the insurer looked at the structural damage and assessed what it would likely cost to repair the vehicle’s issues and get it back on the road safely. This involves using insurer approved repair workshops. It also means using new, manufacturer approved parts too.

The cost of repairing a vehicle only at a garage on their approved list using all new parts is considerable. It’s possible to repair the vehicle properly at a specialist garage experienced in structural damage and to use previously used parts salvaged from damaged vehicles. Insurers don’t consider this, as their only interest is whether or not it’s worth their money to repair the car. In fact, some insurers draw the line at only 50 percent of the value.

Should you purchase a Category S for repair?

It depends on whether you will perform the repairs yourself or know a reliable garage with the capabilities to do the work. It’s certainly an educated gamble whether there’s more damage than expected but at the same time, the purchase is likely to be inexpensive enough to make it a reasonable bet. If you wanted a simple purchase, you’d buy a new car from the local main dealer. By looking at auctions, you’re seeking out a bargain and are willing to purchase a repairable vehicle, fix it up, and get it reinsured.

We’ve got a whole range of choice here at RAW2K, with our online car auctions containing models from leading brands like Ford and Vauxhall. They’re refreshed on a daily and weekly basis - so you’ll always have plenty of choice!