Bridging the Gap (research report)

Author: Elaine Hardy PhD
Date of Publication: October 2021
Uploaded to Knowledge Centre: 22 November 2021

This report looks into vehicle insurance write-offs and raises concerns about the sale of unsafe vehicles which end up on public roads.

Sometimes vehicles which have been badly damaged and declared a ‘write-off’ by an insurance company are sold to buyers without a declaration of the extent. or even the existence of, past damage. Not only may this affect the value of the vehicle, but the vehicle could be unsafe to drive.

When insurance write-off vehicles are salvaged, they are allocated to specific Categories. Category D(N) indicates less damage than Category C(S). Vehicles recorded as Category A or B are beyond repair and must never be returned to the road.

In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the resale of Category C (S) and D (N) vehicles is not controlled because there is no mechanism to determine whether these recycled vehicles are repaired to a degree such that they are secure and safe to drive. The concern is that these vehicles may be involved in road traffic collisions and as consequence cause injury or death to the vehicle occupant/s and/or possibly other road users.

Prior to this study, the number of these vehicles in circulation was unknown throughout Great Britain and Ireland. Elaine Hardy, who authored the report, believes there was a significant knowledge gap between what is suspected and what the real effects of these insurance write-offs are on our roads.

Elaine tried to gain evidence via an survey online but the response was poor – possibly because potential respondents were unwilling to provide information due to concerns about losing their insurance cover, or the refusal of insurers to pay out in case of an accident.

Elaine accessed data provided from official sources and other information from journalists, and monitored vehicle auction sites. She believes her findings give reason to be concerned about the sale of unsafe vehicles which end up on public roads.

The main recommendation of the study is the regulation and control of the write-off category C(S) by amalgamating it with category B to be broken up for parts.

Elaine Hardy believes this solution would benefit the insurance industry as the parts of these C(S) category vehicles could continue to be sold. Any loss could be offset by the potential return of green parts sales, but the most important factor is that by doing so, it would make roads safer.

Access the report via the Rhys Jeffreys Road Fund website.