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What to do after your car's been written off

Saarrah Mussa
Written by  Saarrah Mussa
5 min read
Updated: 22 Jan 2024

Firstly, what does a write-off mean? 

If your insurance company has declared your car a write-off, this is usually because your car would be too expensive to repair, or the damages are so significant your car is beyond repair.  

Contrary to popular belief, a written-off car does not mean your car can no longer drive, it relates more to the damages the car has incurred.  

There is some negotiation allowed within this process:, you can insist on another evaluation of your car, however insurers have a strict policy that if the damages equate to more than (usually) 40% of the car's worth, they are highly unlikely to change their decision to write off your car.  

car accident

Do you have to accept the settlement offer your insurer gives you? 

There are different write-off categories, depending on how damaged your car is. After you have been given notice of your vehicle being classed as a write-off, you will then get a settlement offer.  

You do not have to accept the settlement offer right away; you will have at least 5-7 days to make your decision and if you believe you should be owed more, you can contest the offer. In order to prove to your insurer that your car is worth more, you will usually need to provide evidence of this.  

If you can find your same type of car with similar mileage, age and spec being sold for more than what your insurance company are quoting you, you will be able to dispute their number. However, only one example won’t cut it. If you have a few to back you up, you will have a more solid case to prove that your insurance company should increase their payout amount. 

You can also decline the settlement offer completely and buy your car from your insurance company. This option will allow you to repair all the damages yourself and keep your car.  

What happens to my insurance after my car has been written off? 

Your insurance will be cancelled after your car has been deemed a write-off since there is no longer a car to insure. Every policy is different and so is every insurance provider, but most of the time, your insurer will give you around 30 days to find a new car to switch your policy to.  

Unfortunately, if it's not possible for you to obtain a new car within the time frame your insurer has given you, this will count as a cancelled policy that you will have to disclose when you take out another policy in the future.  

If you have paid for your insurance annually 

If you have paid for your car insurance annually, getting the money back for your insurance won’t be easy. Sometimes, it is not a possibility at all, but on some policies, you may be able to get the rest of your premiums back for the time that is left on your policy. This is often based on fault. If you are not at fault for the accident that occurred, you may be able to get a refund back on the rest of the time remaining on your policy. However, if you were at fault, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to get any money back on your premiums.  

Road tax  

After your car has been declared SORN (written-off) you can cancel your road tax by informing DVLA that you no longer have the vehicle or that it has been declared SORN and is now off the road. You can then expect a full refund of any remaining complete months of your annual road tax year. It is not possible to transfer your road tax to a different vehicle.   

Insuring a written-off car 

If you have a car that has been recorded as SORN on the logbook, you are still able to insure that car after it has been fully repaired, has passed its MOT, and is off SORN therefore, allowed back on the road. You cannot insure a car while it is SORN. While comparison site journeys and many providers don’t have a specific question asking whether your car has ever been written off in the past, it is still worth telling your insurer after you have run a quote.  

While this may impact your premiums slightly, if you do get into an accident or need to make a claim that involves your insurance provider needing your logbook, and they see the undisclosed write-off, it could invalidate your policy preventing any pay outs for claims or settlement offers for a written-off car.  

What you need to know 

  • You can contest a settlement offer if you believe your car is worth more than what your insurance provider is offering. 

  • You can buy your car from your insurance provider after it has been written off. 

  • Your policy will be cancelled soon after your car has been written off. 

  • It is unlikely that you will get a refund on your premiums after your insurance has been cancelled.  

  • After your car is off-road, you can get a road tax refund for any remaining months left of your vehicle tax year.