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Cat ‘S’ write-offs repaired and sold to new owners

at ‘S’ write-offs repaired and sold to new ownersAuto Express have found 10 vehicles which had been sold at salvage auction as declared Cat S write-offs. 


Making a note of the VIN plates displayed in the salvage listings, Auto Express paid for HPI and Experian AutoCheck history checks. Some of the cars generated alerts for outstanding finance or mileage discrepancies, but none of the checks showed that these cars had been written off.

After being alerted to this issue by one of their readers who discovered the used car he bought had been previously sold via salvage auction, Auto Express exclusively revealed that cars deemed insurance write-offs following serious accidents are passing vehicle history checks with a clean bill of health and being sold to unsuspecting motorists.

Vehicle history checks are relied on to reveal whether a car is subject to outstanding finance, has mileage irregularities, has been stolen, has previously been scrapped or has been deemed an insurance write-off.

But the damaged cars were sold at salvage auction having been classified as ‘Cat S’ – meaning they were written off after sustaining serious, structural accident damage, and were only allowed back on the road after having been properly repaired. Despite this, all of these cars passed the vehicle history checks by HPI and Experian AutoCheck, and were being marketed as never having been written off.

Two of the largest companies in the business, Experian AutoCheck and HPI, told Auto Express that they exclusively rely on the Motor Insurance Anti Fraud & Theft Register, or MIAFTR, to determine if a car’s status as a write-off.

HPI Consumer Director, Fernando Garcia, told Auto Express: “Where third- party data is found to be inaccurate or factually incorrect, HPI will work with these partners to ensure that consumer safety remains the main priority and is not compromised in any way.”

A Spokesperson from Experian said the company understands “the cause for concern with the three vehicles highlighted”. Experian said it uses MIAFTR “to check whether a vehicle has been marked as ‘written off’ by an insurer”, but that “as none of the three vehicles were recorded as a total loss, they did not show as ‘written off’ on the vehicles’ provenance reports. We will continue to work with our data and insurance industry partners to establish the circumstances behind these three vehicles”.

The Motor Insurers’ Bureau, the organisation that runs MIAFTR, added that “Cat S write-offs will receive a V5C document from DVLA… [that] should alert keepers to the status of the vehicle”. The MIB also said that “CAT S and N vehicles can be repaired and legally driven again”.

The DVLA said: “Insurance companies are required to notify DVLA of all accident-damaged vehicles.”

MIAFTR is a nationwide database run by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), and 97 per cent of insurance companies subscribe to it. When an insurer writes off a vehicle, those subscribing to MIAFTR place it on the Register as a write-off.

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