Cat S - couple of questions

Aug 13, 2020
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Seeing a few used SEAT cars listed which are 'Cat S' where the seller has passed an MoT after repairs. Obviously one wouldn't buy without an independent inspection. But I expect that in a lot of cases, the car has genuinely been returned to pre-accident condition, so my question is what discount should one seek based on the Cat S status itself? Even if the inspection indicates the car's condition is what it was before accident, the status will follow it around for the rest of its days and make it far harder to re-sell, and possibly more costly to insure. Is a 25% discount about right?
 

Legojon

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I'm not sure there's an exact amount of money off. I've noticed CAT S cars going for silly money (e.g. a cupra for 1/3 of it's value) which would instantly make me wary. TBH if I was to buy a Cat S car, I'd want to see the insurance inspection of damage and the bodyshops repair invoice. Passing an MOT is just a minimum safety standard, it's not to say there isn't underlying damage. But at least if you can get them to provide the insurance engineers report you can see what accident it actually had and imagine from there. E.g. I'd prefer a car that had reversed into a bollard than one which had been in a collision with another car.

I think the other thing is, I'd be more inclined to go for a Cat N (if possible) as it's only suffered cosmetic damage. But then again, Cat S is given even if an alloy wheel is scuffed during the accident.

But ye, as you say above... it will be harder to resell (not sure about trade in) and my insurance at the time wouldn't insure a Cat N (was looking for a cheap learner car for my son). It took me 4th attempt to find anyone that would cover it.
 
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Aug 13, 2020
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Cheers for the reply Legojon.

Are there some structural faults an AA/RAC engineer could never detect? I notice some sellers of Cat N/S are encouraging independent inspections.

Since some used cars with Cat status are listed for half or 2/3 of their non-Cat value, it's at least interesting to note that RAC charges £189 for a "307 point in-depth structural, mechanical, full bodywork inspection". Are these inspections likely to be a high price tag for some ticks on a clipboard in practice?
 

Legojon

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Are there some structural faults an AA/RAC engineer could never detect? I notice some sellers of Cat N/S are encouraging independent inspections.

Since some used cars with Cat status are listed for half or 2/3 of their non-Cat value, it's at least interesting to note that RAC charges £189 for a "307 point in-depth structural, mechanical, full bodywork inspection". Are these inspections likely to be a high price tag for some ticks on a clipboard in practice?
I guess opinion will vary depending on how cautious you are. In my example above, if an insurance engineer finds a scuff on an alloy wheel. It changes it to a Cat S (from N) because there is no way of knowing if the rear axle has been bent. This could be invisible to the naked eye but annoying when your doing 70mph down the motorway.

Unfortunately I've bought a car or two with RAC / AA inspection certificates and have gone on to find several obvious faults on each car. But that aside. If a cars been rear ended - but the bumper / crash bar has been replaced. You'd never know if the accident eg twisted the car chassis or crushed the spare wheel well. Which is why I think it's more important to know what happened to the car, what the insurance engineer quoted the damage as and what action the repairers took.

So take for example here (post #86)

A truck drove past me and it's crash bar hooked my rear bumper and pulled it off... taking the bumper, rear lights and some of the wiring with it. The insurance tried to make it Cat S... but I refused to have it written off as I know the structure suffered no impact. Which eventually they conceded. For fun you could look at page 6 as well and see how furious I was with the repair shops first attempt (which I rejected).
 
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The post-accident pages in that thread are insightful o_O

There's something I don't understand. Why is it often the case that the insurance company is more eager than the policy holder to write a car off, given that this means the insurance company writes a cheque for circa value of car pre-accident? Naively, aren't they incentivized to be fairly 'honest' with their assessment? Or is the idea that they reckon the price you'll accept for the write-off minus their internal repairs/auction turnaround will be less than the repairs costs they'd otherwise be on the hook for if the policy holder insists? I guess the insurance company is obliged to pay OEM prices and the rest of it.
 

Legojon

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The post-accident pages in that thread are insightful o_O

There's something I don't understand. Why is it often the case that the insurance company is more eager than the policy holder to write a car off, given that this means the insurance company writes a cheque for circa value of car pre-accident? Naively, aren't they incentivized to be fairly 'honest' with their assessment? Or is the idea that they reckon the price you'll accept for the write-off minus their internal repairs/auction turnaround will be less than the repairs costs they'd otherwise be on the hook for if the policy holder insists? I guess the insurance company is obliged to pay OEM prices and the rest of it.
Yeah, which again shows how important it is to know what was repaired so you can double check e.g. panels line up correctly. Boot shuts correctly, etc. As for the insurance. I have no idea on that one. If I recall, I think I paid £1900 for the car. After the accident, I was quite surprised at how high the repair could go before write off (think it was 60% of the total value). So I had about £1100 to play with. Great I thought. Then the bodyshop estimate came in at £1140 and the insurance want to write off the car and pay me £2200?!?!?

I think the only explanation is... the "estimate" is already at the threshold. So... if they sign it off, car goes in and then they realise actually the real damage is more like £3000 and they've already stripped the car down, etc. Then we're in a bit of a deadlock. So it's easier to just pay the car off. However, I needed a first car for my kid and writing it off + new driver + 0 no claims + a no fault accident wasn't going to see him getting a car anytime soon. So I requested they replace the bumper, lights, etc and I'll repair the scuffs and scratches on the quarter panels etc privately. Which they agreed.

Another thing to watch out for in all of the above. So.. the quote for a new bumper (parts only) was £380 for a "genuine" Seat bumper. However, not known to most is that the insurance and repair shop have an agreement that if a cars older than 6 years (I think they said). They can quote the price for Genuine Seat but in fact can replace it with "Lucky Golden Hedgehog" brand. So initially I thought... ace... new Seat bumper, but it was basically a moulded imitation bumper. Which I guess is another thing to watch out for buying an older Cat N or S. The parts will be no brand. Fortunately for me, they tried a no brand bumper twice which I rejected and in the end they had to get a proper Seat one anyway! Oh and the price of the imitation bumper was £80 I think they said.
 
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They can quote the price for Genuine Seat but in fact can replace it with "Lucky Golden Hedgehog" brand.
As long as it's genuinely lucky :ROFLMAO:

Yeah I guess it adds up now. When you consider the insurer's assessor may initially underestimate the cost of repairs, can see why quickly the insurance company would rather write it off. Concerning that you can get quoted a SEAT brand part could but end up with some unbranded inferior.
 
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