Buying & Selling

Cat A, B, S, and N motorbikes: new insurance write-off categories explained

From 1st October 2017 the A, B, C & D insurance write-off categories are being replaced to make the system easier to understand.

As long as you know what you are doing, buying an insurance write-off can be a very economical way to acquire a motorbike.

Bikes have become ever-more sophisticated – ABS and traction control are no longer the preserve of superbikes – meaning repairs through official repairers can often be uneconomical.

Insurer’s authorised repairers tend to specify complete nuts and bolts repairs, featuring all-new OEM parts, which can lead to an unnecessarily expensive invoice for the insurer.

However, much of the damaged caused during an accident or theft attempt can be repaired more economically by smaller garages and home mechanics.

Reduce your motorcycle insurance premiums

Insurers are increasingly likely to write off a vehicle once the value of repairs exceeded half of the value of the bike, meaning there has been a steady stream of ‘cheap’ bikes available to easily repair.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has now changed the voluntary code around write-offs because too many perfectly reparable vehicles were scrapped, and equally, too many unsafe vehicles were making their way back onto the market.


Clearer classifications

Under the old system, the emphasis was on the cost of repairs. Now, insurers can make the type of write off much clearer.

The old system of A, B, C & D categories are now replaced by the following new classifications:

A – Scrap only
B – Break for parts
S – Structurally damaged but repairable
N – Not structurally damaged, repairable

A Category insurance write-offs

A – Scrap only. This is a write-off in all senses of the term. An ‘A’ classification means the vehicle is too dangerous to be put back on the road and must be destroyed, by crushing.

B Category insurance write-offs

B – Break for parts. The ‘B’ classification applies to vehicles that again are too dangerous to be put back on the road, but salvageable parts can be removed (and sold) before the vehicle is destroyed.

S Category insurance write-offs

S – Structurally damaged but repairable. This new category indicates the vehicle has suffered significant enough damaged that it is no longer economically repairable by the insurance company’s own repairer.

N Category insurance write-offs

N – Not structurally damaged, repairable. The other new category is fairly self-explanatory. Typical causes for this kind of ‘write-off’ would be cosmetic damage to sports bike panels or damage to steering locks and discs brakes during theft attempts. Like Category S, these vehicles are perfectly fine if repaired properly.


The new classifications have been developed after a two-year consultation with Thatcham Research technical experts.

As the classifications are applied by insurers, and the code is voluntary, there is no guarantee the bike you may be buying has not been involved in an accident.

It’s not unknown for owners to not declare an accident to an insurer and to put the motorbike back on the road. To avoid buying a ‘bodged’ bike, always get an inspection by a qualified mechanic if you don’t have the technical and mechanical knowledge yourself.

Get yourself sorted:

It’s possible to get a bargain when you delve into the world of insurance write-offs. But be prepared.


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B&B Staff

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