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So you’ve just been involved in a car accident. You’re hugely thankful when you realise that no one’s been seriously injured. Then you realise your car hasn’t been so lucky.

After an accident, your insurance company’s assessor will establish whether repairing your vehicle is economically viable, or if the car should be declared a write-off.

People often assume the car needs to be totalled to be considered a write-off, but this isn’t always the case. It all comes down to the cost of repairs versus the car’s market value.

Generally, there are two types of write-off:

Statutory write-off: The car is so badly damaged that it can never be repaired to a safe standard and is only suitable for parts or scrap metal

Repairable write-off: Technically, the car can be repaired, but the insurer decides doing so would be uneconomical compared to providing a pay-out.

Note that the pay-out might be significantly less what your car’s worth. Even in a not-at-fault accident, your insurer may make deductions including any remaining premium owed for the year and the unused portion of your registration and CTP. Depending on your cover, not at fault drivers might still have to pay an excess.

Disputing a write-off

A statutory write-off means off to the scrapyard – the car is considered unsafe to repair and return to the road. In the case of a repairable write-off, you may be able to challenge your insurer’s decision. You’ll generally only about a week to file a dispute and gather enough evidence to convince your insurer the car can be fixed for less than its market value.

You’ll need:

– Quotes from smash repairers, with a full breakdown of repair quotes
– Evidence of your car’s market value from a provider such as
– Quotes from salvage yards that reflect the salvage value of your vehicle

With this information, it may be possible to come to an agreement with your insurer, requesting that they foot the repair bill instead and don’t report your vehicle to the written-off register.

Re-registering and selling a written-off vehicle

In most states and territories, repairable write-offs can be re-registered, although they may have to pass additional inspections.

However, in NSW, vehicles that have been written off due to an accident cannot be re-registered, although there are a few exemptions. Check the current policy here.

A write-off will almost certainly take a big chunk off the value of your car. Any prospective buyers who aren’t put off will probably be looking for a bargain. So, keep all these things in mind before you dispute a write-off and weigh up whether it’s worth keeping the car or taking the cash.

Waiting on repairs? Contact Not My Fault to find out what you are entitled to and arrange your replacement courtesy car.