What is a Cat N car?

Jan 24, 2024

What is a Cat N car?

What does it mean when a car is labeled as a Category N write-off? This is a common inquiry among potential buyers when they encounter a vehicle with a Cat N designation for sale. When a car sustains damage in a road accident and the insurer deems it economically unviable to repair, it falls into one of four insurance write-off categories.

Cars with non-structural damage are typically classified as Cat N, indicating they can be restored for road use. However, if you're considering purchasing a Cat N vehicle, diligent research is crucial, as these cars may pose challenges in terms of maintenance, servicing, and insurance.

To assist in comprehending the meaning and workings of Category N, we've compiled this guide.

What does Cat N mean?

Cat N signifies that a vehicle has been involved in an accident and declared a write-off by the insurer. "Cat" denotes category, and "N" signifies non-structural damage to the body or chassis. This implies that the fundamental safety structure of the vehicle remains intact, but the insurer has judged the repair cost to exceed the vehicle's economic value.

Cat N vs. Cat D

Cat N replaced the Cat D category in October 2017, clarifying that the written-off vehicle hasn't suffered structural damage. While Cat D was used for vehicles with light or cosmetic damage, some older vehicles assessed before October 2017 may still carry the Cat D marker.

What is Cat N damage?

A Cat N vehicle has not undergone significant structural damage. The chassis or frame integrity remains intact, but there may be cosmetic bodywork damage or issues with suspension, steering, or brakes.

Can a Cat N car be returned to the road?

Yes, a Cat N car can be restored for road use, but it must undergo repairs to meet safety standards. While re-registration isn't necessary, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) must be informed of its Cat N status before it's used on public roads again.

Should I buy a Cat N car?

Cat N cars often come with substantial discounts, making them attractive to bargain-seeking buyers. However, thorough research is essential. A comprehensive history file detailing damage and repair history, a valid MOT, proper repairs, service history, and an up-to-date V5C logbook are crucial factors to consider.

How can I check if a car is a Cat N?

If uncertain about a car's history, an RAC car data check can confirm its past. Buying a poorly repaired Cat N car could lead to costly problems, negating any initial savings.

Are Cat N cars more expensive to insure?

Insuring Cat N cars may be costlier, with some insurers refusing coverage or requiring inspection by a qualified expert. The RAC offers vehicle inspections to fulfill this requirement.

Can I remove a Cat N marker?

In the UK, once an insurance company applies the Cat N marker, it remains in place for the car's entire lifespan, and removal is not possible.