Over one in four (27%) UK drivers have written off a car, with a brand-new model accounting for over a fifth of these (21%), according to a new Opinium of 2000 UK drivers.

written off car survey

The survey commissioned by InsuretheGap.com found that 15% had written off a second-hand car that was less than three years-old, and 38% had done similar with a car under five years old.

Men were revealed to be more likely than women to have written a car off (30% v 24%).

Looking at the reasons why, 41% said another driver or drivers were at fault; 12% admitted that they were at fault where another vehicle was involved; 6% said both they and the other driver/drivers were equally at fault, whilst 16% said they were the only vehicle involved. A further fifth (19%) had their car stolen and written off by the insurance company, and 5% said there was a technical issue and/or fault with the car.

Writing off a car can potentially be very expensive for the vehicle owner, as the insurance company will only pay based on the market value of the vehicle at the time it is written off, and not what is was initially bought for. This is due to depreciation, a fact of life for motorists when they change vehicle, but when this is unexpectedly forced upon them because of a write-off, it can have significant consequences. 41% of drivers said that if their car was written off and the insurance settlement was half of what they initially paid, they would be unable to buy the same car again. This number increases to 51% for the under 34s.

GAP (Guaranteed Asset Protection) Insurance exists to protect drivers from this ‘gap’, particularly if there is still a finance agreement or loan to pay off.

Ben Wooltorton, Director, InsuretheGap.com, said: “Cars lose about 20 per cent of their value each year in depreciation, then add in the complex technology and expensive materials used in car manufacturing and it’s often uneconomical for insurance companies to pay for a car to be repaired. However, the recent introduction of new categories for damaged cars should lead to more cars being fixed when previously they would have gone to the crusher. The new regulations also make it easier for buyers to know if a car has a write-off history.”/