Gone in 90 seconds: one car written off every minute-and-a-half in the UK

  • Average of 384,000 cars written off in UK every year
  • Over £1 billion of written off cars were claimed for last year alone
  • Men aged under 25 most likely to be involved in an accident causing a write-off

New analysis1 by Churchill Car Insurance reveals that around 384,000 vehicles were written off last year, amounting to over 1,000 every day, or one every 90 seconds2.

With over 38 million full licence holders registered in the UK3, and almost 32 million cars4, one in every 83 drivers has to have their car written off every year5. The analysis shows that men aged under 25 are almost twice (82 per cent) as likely to have a car written off than any other age group, with one in 45 young male drivers having written a car off.

Across all age groups, the data shows that men are more likely to be involved in an accident leaving their car beyond repair, with men accounting for 57 per cent of write-offs every year and women being involved in 42 per cent of incidents.

Last year, it is estimated that nearly 34,000 claims were made on vehicles less than five years old, with the average claim value standing at over £9,000.

Table one:  Categories of insurance write-off for vehicles in the UK





Vehicle is so badly damaged it can never re-appear on the road

All parts of the vehicle – even those that are salvageable – must be destroyed


Vehicle has suffered extensive damage and can never re-appear on the road

Body shell should be crushed. Some parts could be salvageable


Vehicle is repairable but the cost exceeds its value. Can re-appear on the road

Vehicle sold by insurer at special auction to motor traders or repair garages


Vehicle is repairable but the time and cost are significant compared to its value

Vehicle sold by insurer at special auction to motor traders or repair garages

Steve Barrett, head of Car Insurance at Churchill, said: "When a car is written off it is either the result of it being unsafe for the road, or because repairing it would be uneconomical in comparison to its value. Many people assume that this is the result of a major collision, but a car can be written off for any number of reasons.

“This analysis shows the risks drivers can face, and underlines the importance of having comprehensive car insurance policies in place should the worst happen and their car is written off.

“Churchill Car Insurance customers are able to choose whether they would like a cash settlement or for us to source a replacement if their car is written-off after an accident or accidental damage7.”


Notes to editors:

1  Analysis of Direct Line Group claims data for written off cars (Cat A-D) during the period 2015 – 2016. Direct Line Group’s market share applied to claims data to provide total UK figure.

2  Calculation made based on the basis of 384,000 write-offs per year averages out at 1,052 write-offs per day, or 44 every hour. This equates to 0.12 per second: 0.12 x 90 = 1.1 write off every 90 seconds

3  DVLA current full GB driving licence holders data, broken down by age and gender, published March 2016.


4  Licensed vehicles by make and model in the United Kingdom (Q3 2016) published by the Department for Transport, January 2017 (VEH0101).


5  Driving licence holder gender and age breakdowns applied to total number of registered vehicles.

6  Vehicle road accident rates taken from road safety data published by the Department of Transport. Average figure taken for accidents taking place between 2011 and 2015 (most recent available datasets).


7 Comprehensive policies only. A minimum car purchase price of £3,500 applies and is subject to availability. Excludes theft claims. If your car is written off due to an accident, vandalism, fire or flood you will be given the option of receiving a cheque to the value of replacing the car.

For further information, please contact:

Simon Henrick

Head of news and issues 

Direct Line Group

Tel: 01651 831 668

Email: [email protected]


Founded in 1989, Churchill is now one of the UK's leading providers of general insurance, offering car, home, travel and pet insurance cover over the phone or on-line.

Churchill general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. 

Churchill and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.  

Customers can find out more about Churchill products or get a quote by calling 0300 200300 or visiting www.churchill.com