Guide To Car Data Checks

Write-off/Accident Damage

If a vehicle is recorded as a total insurance write-off - also known as a total loss - the private buyer has several problems:

  • it may be unsafe and not repaired to an acceptable standard
  • the value will drop a considerable amount depending on the category the insurance company have placed it in.

A motor dealer does not have to divulge to a prospective buyer if a vehicle has been 'written off' or not, unless they are specifically asked the question.

If you buy a car that has been written off, whether or not you are aware of the fact, then unless the insurance company are informed at the time the insurance is taken out you may find that in the event of a claim they are unlikely to pay out. They do not check vehicles for accident damage when they insure you to drive it. The onus is on the motor car owner to tell the insurance company that it is classified as an insurance write-off, and in what category.

If a car has been seriously damaged as a category A, B or C and this is notified to the DVLA on or after 7th April 2003 (regardless of the date of accident), the vehicle will have to go through a VIC (Vehicle Identity Check) carried out at various centres throughout mainland GB.

This is a government initiative to help reduce the amount of cloned vehicles in mainland GB. The majority of cloned vehicles come from:

  • using the identity of a seriously accident-damaged vehicle
  • a vehicle stolen with the VIN and, of course, the registration number is changed to mirror the accident-damaged vehicle.

This is the most serious form of vehicle fraud and the most difficult to detect as the prospective purchaser will carry out a data check using the registration details of the written off or scrapped vehicle - which will not show up as a stolen vehicle! The next thing the new 'owner' will be aware of is when they have a visit from the Police and the car is repossessed. The 'owner' will lose the vehicle and almost certainly the money they have paid out if they cannot trace who they bought the car from.

Page Menu

  1. Introduction
  2. The Industry / Buying a car privately
  3. Stolen & Dangerous Cars / Clocked
  4. VIN (Chassis number) / Cloning
  5. Imported Vehicles / Previous Owners
  6. Write-off/Accident Damage
  7. Performing a check - Incorrect numbers
  8. Performing a check - Personalised Numbers
  9. Consequences of buying a stolen car...