How do write-offs affect future car insurance premiums?

Hi everyone

I recently scuffed the corner of a parked car and caused a scratch along the side of my own car.  
When I informed my insurance company, they told me that as the other driver would be claiming, I might as well put in a claim for my own car to be fixed as well, as the premium would be going up by the same amount whether or not I put in a claim for it - even though I kept saying I wasn't that bothered by the scratch and wasn't planning on claiming for it.  
Anyway, the insurance company has been pestering me on a daily basis to send off photos of the damage to nearby garage they use for repairs, and so I eventually did on the proviso that I could always say no if I didn't want to go ahead with the repairs.  
However, long story short: the garage has decided my car is a category S write-off.

I guess I want to know what this means for future premiums really?
I don't agree that it is a category S write off - I must have been travelling at 5mph at the time and the scratch is purely cosmetic and not that deep - there is certainly no structural damage and no engineer has actually seen the car in person.  However, the insurance company has said that they now own the car and, even though they are prepared to sell it back to me, I really don't understand the implications of what a write-off means.  I can only assume that my premiums will go up significantly.  The insurance company was unprepared to say how much by.

I feel a bit scammed to be honest as I kept saying to my insurance company that I didn't want to get my own car repaired as I was actually worried that it would increase my premium by doing so, regardless of what the person at the insurance company told me.  But I now feel as though this has triggered a set of events that are totally out of my hands, as I didn't even realise a write-off might be a possible outcome.

To top things off, I have read online that my insurance policy might no longer be valid and unrefundable - even though I renewed with the same company only about 5 days ago.  They have said this will not be the case, but I am slightly concerned about what the reality is while I am still within a cooling off period and able to cancel (I think).

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Many thanks.

Comments

  • Aretnap
    Aretnap Posts: 5,211 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    No need to feel scammed.

    It's true that if there is a third party claim to be paid, you have nothing to lose by putting in a claim for your own damage. As far as next year's premium goes a claim is a claim - the exact amount will not affect the premium. (The majority of insurers don't even ask how much the claim was for.)

    Having made a claim your insurer has the right to choose whether to repair the car or write it off. For an old low value car even minor damage will almost always mean a write off. In making their call they will be pricing a fully professional repair (new parts not second hand, a respray to ensure a good colour match etc, what you would expect from an insurance company basically), and also taking into account the cost of a courtesy car while yours is repaired, the risk that the garage will find more damage after they start work and that the costs will balloon etc.

    The good news for you is that if you're willing to live with the scratch or fix it with one of those dodgy paint kits from Halfords, whatever money you end up with after they deduct the salvage value is basically pure cash in your back pocket at the end of the day. So don't look a gift horse in the mouth here.

    As far as future premiums go, the difference the cat S marker will make to your future premium will be somewhere between negligible and zero. Again most insurers won't even ask about it's write-off status - they know better than anyone that it often just means that an old car had a minor scratch. The only practical difference in insurance terms is that were the car to be written off again in future the payout would be a little lower next time round, to reflect the fact that the market reduces the market value of the car. 

    On a related point the car might be a bit harder to sell with a Cat S marker - but if you were planning to keep it until it dies that's not a major concern either. Obviously if you were thinking of selling it in the near future then not buying it back and looking for a replacement car instead might be the way to go.

    As far as whether your recently renewed policy will remain valid - if your insurer has told you that it will, that trumps any nonsense that you read on the internet. 
  • Hoenir
    Hoenir Posts: 2,031 Forumite
    First Post Name Dropper
    What's the extent of the damage to the other vehicle? 
  • Acnh24
    Acnh24 Posts: 2 Newbie
    First Post
    Thanks so much Aretnap - I've never had to put in a claim before and your comprehensive answer has really put my mind at ease.  I won't bother trying to argue the toss with my insurance company, I'll just leave things be.

    Hoenir - the other vehicle was only damaged on the corner of its vehicle.  I have no idea what the other party has claimed for - I sent off photos to my insurance company and let them deal with the rest - but know that their claim is out of my hands anyway.  It was more my own claim I wasn't sure about. 
  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 10,328 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Name Dropper
    In principle the vehicle having been a write off in the past should make your premiums cheaper as your car is now worth less than the otherwise identical car.
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