Car dealers urged to back legal database of insurance write-offs

There has been a call for UK car dealers to back a campaign that would create a database of written off vehicles to protect the buying public.

Vehicle provenance checker Vcheck is lobbying the industry and the government to force insurance companies to register write-offs on a central database, so dealers and members of the public don’t unwittingly buy a salvaged vehicle.

A ‘write-off’ is a vehicle that has been heavily damaged to the point where the insurance company deems the cost of repair to be higher than the value of the vehicle.

There are different categories of write-off, with some allowing the car to be used again ‘if it is repaired to a roadworthy condition’, one that allows for undamaged parts to be salvaged, and one that requires the entire vehicle to be crushed.

Vcheck says its most recent study looked at a leading used car sales website and found 16,700 ex-salvage vehicles, of which 4,000 were write-offs but not registered on the Motor Insurance Anti-Fraud Theft Register (MIAFTR) when the study was conducted. This register is ‘primarily used by all car checking companies’.

Adrian Mierzwinski, founder of Vcheck, said: “We have highlighted the issues of write-off vehicles for two years and seen a minimal movement to address the problem.

“There seems to be a deadlock between the insurance companies, Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) and large provenance providers. It is now time that more positive action is taken to force change and protect dealers from unknowingly selling write-offs as ‘provenance check clear’ vehicles to motorists who risk financial loss and a potentially dangerous, unroadworthy vehicle.”

“Dealers face damage to their reputation and legal action if they unwittingly sell a write-off to a consumer. We’ve seen cases that range from superminis to supercars, and on each occasion, the dealer was faced with a huge amount of work and cost to resolve the situation. It is time to solve this issue once and for all.

“We understand the change for a legal requirement to record all vehicles in MIAFTR is not an overnight update, so in the meantime, we’re offering a solution to help dealers to protect themselves from the vehicles which slipped through the net, at a fixed and affordable cost.

“Our aim is to protect motorists in the UK, and any problematic vehicles should be detected before being advertised.”

The PA news agency has contacted the MIB for comment.