About written-off vehicles
Most vehicles stolen by professional thieves have a high value and are never recovered, as they’re either stripped for parts and the bodies dumped or re-birthed under new identities.
The written-off vehicle scheme is a national theft reduction initiative to minimise the illegal use of:
- vehicle identifiers in the re-birthing of stolen vehicles
- stolen vehicle parts in the repairing of damaged vehicles.
(Vehicle identifiers are the unique serial numbers used to identify individual vehicles, such as vehicle identification number. Other identifiers are engine and chassis numbers.)
The scheme reduces vehicle theft and eliminates unsafe vehicles by:
- checking that repairable written-off vehicles don’t contain stolen parts
- taking severely damaged vehicles off the road permanently.
The written-off vehicle register is an important part of that scheme.
- A vehicle recorded on the written-off vehicle register usually has a reduced value.
- A vehicle remains on the register for the rest of its life, even if it’s repaired or ownership is transferred.
- Only the notifier can request that a vehicle’s status be changed on the register.
What is a notifiable vehicle?
A notifiable vehicle is a vehicle that’s been declared a total economic loss due to:
- collision damage
- fire damage
- water immersion or weather event damage
- parts stripping
It can be classified as either a repairable written-off or statutory written-off vehicle.
What is a total economic loss?
A total write-off or loss is when the cost of repair combined with the wreck’s salvage value is greater than its market value.
Total loss = (cost of repair + salvage cost) > market value
Conditions on notifiable vehicles
To maintain the integrity of information recorded on the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) registration database, a vehicle classed as written off must be notified to TMR.
A vehicle is only ‘notifiable’ if it’s up to 16 years old and assessed as a total loss in one of these categories:
- a vehicle with a GVM not over 4.5 tonne
- a motorcycle
- a caravan
- a trailer with an ATM over 4.5 tonne
If you’re a consumer who is purchasing a used vehicle, check the Personal Property Securities Register to see if a vehicle has been recorded as a write-off.
This check will also tell you if the vehicle has outstanding money owing on it.
There are 2 classifications of written-off vehicle: statutory and repairable.
A statutory write-off is a vehicle that’s been assessed as a total loss with damage too severe to be repaired and returned to the road.
The vehicle identification number (VIN) is recorded as a statutory write-off in a written-off vehicle register, and the vehicle can’t be re-registered in Queensland or any other Australian jurisdiction, even if repaired. These vehicles are suitable only for parts or scrap metal.
A repairable write-off is a vehicle that’s been assessed as a total loss but doesn’t meet the criteria for a statutory write-off.
The VIN is recorded as a repairable write-off in a written-off vehicle register and the vehicle may be re-registered after it:
- is repaired
- passes a Queensland safety certificate inspection
- passes a written-off vehicle inspection
Choosing a classification
The notifier decides whether the vehicle is a statutory or repairable write-off. This is usually the insurance company that provides the vehicle’s comprehensive insurance. However, it may be a loss adjustor, dealer, auctioneer, auto parts dismantler or individual who owns the vehicle.
The notifier uses the following criteria to decide whether the vehicle is a repairable or statutory write-off:
- vehicles with a GVM not more than 4.5t – Damage assessment criteria for the classification of statutory write-offs—regulatory impact statement (National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council website, under General reports)
- motorcycles, caravans, trailers with an ATM more than 4.5t and other vehicles – Damage assessment criteria for the classification of statutory write-offs—motorbikes, caravans, heavy trailers and other vehicles.
Read more about notifying a written-off vehicle.