Writing Your Car Off Isn’t All Bad

A friend of mine (we’ll call him Steve) recently had the misfortune of crashing his car into the back of someone at a roundabout. Usually these are fairly minor crashes that result in a couple of scratched bumpers and a bruised ego, but in this case the impact was a bit more severe. Steve has a driving style that involves keeping up momentum by using the brakes as little and late as possible (you have to do that in an underpowered Fiesta), so he approached the roundabout at his usual pace only for the car in front to stop suddenly for no obvious reason (or so Steve says).

Worth more than a Fiesta, but still a write-off

The impact gave his Fiesta quite a facelift that included a cracked bumper, crumpled bonnet and one shattered headlight. The car in front, an old Volvo 940 estate, got away with little more than a gouge in the rear bumper but the driver was none too pleased. Despite the cardigan, pipe and slippers image of Volvo drivers this guy was big, built like a brick privy and quite aggressive – the only way to appease him was for Steve  to ‘do the job properly’ and call the insurance company.

So the insurance people got into gear – a nice new Corsa was promptly delivered to replace Steve’s Fiesta while it was away being inspected. But it didn’t take long for the bad news to arrive – Steve’s car was a write-off. The repairs were estimated at £2,200, thanks to hidden damage including a cracked radiator and front wing that had been pushed backwards.

The good news was that the insurance company valued Steve’s car at £1,600, so with his excess deducted they offered him a cheque for £1,250. Not bad when you consider he bought it two years ago for just £1,300 – two year’s of motoring for just £50 in depreciation. Bargain, and way more than he was expecting to get for a temperemental little car that didn’t like hot weather and was going to need a lot of work to get through its next MOT.

Alternatively he could buy the Fiesta back for £96 (6% of the valuation) and do the repairs himself, but that meant sourcing parts, getting the repairs done, then getting the car inspected and approved by the DVLA. Then, at the end of all that the car will still have ‘write-off’ flagged on its history.

So guess what he’s doing? Taking the cheque and putting it towards a newer car. Not sure what yet, but one thing he’s going to have to do is get some car insurance quotes before buying. Having lost his no-claims bonus and having an accident to his name his insurance is likely to go up by quite some margin. But it could have been worse – that Volvo driver could have rearranged Steve’s face as well as his car.


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Author: Chris Auty

Voted the Breakthrough Blogger of 2013 by SEAT and the Guild of Motoring Writers , Chris has lived and breathed cars since he was old enough to say 'faster'. With a penchant for hot hatches and an allergy to public transport, he would much prefer to drive a bad car than never drive at all. Fortunately his family has learned to put up with this obsession and the internet has provided a channel for his ramblings.

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