Steane Klose | Aug 1, 2008

In Victoria a vehicle that has been severely damaged is generally classified by insurers as one of two types of write-off – a statutory write-off or a repairable write off. A statutory write-off is a vehicle that has been so badly damaged that it can never (legally) be repaired and returned to road use. A repairable write-off, as the name suggests refers to a car which can be repaired and returned to active duty, after having passed a VicRoads VIV inspection.

Repairing a ‘repairable write-off’ is often not considered economically viable by the insurers and these vehicles, along with statutory write-offs are generally sent to auction houses for re-sale in an attempt to reclaim some value from the damaged vehicle.

The VACC has reported that this allows genuine auto recyclers to buy the damaged vehicles and reclaim serviceable parts for resale – a normal practice, with the parts being inspected for serviceability prior to resale. Unfortunately, it also opens the door to members of the public who run ‘backyard’ wrecking or vehicle repair businesses to buy the same type of written-off vehicles.

“Unfortunately, the auction system allows non-licensed members of the public to also bid for damaged vehicles. Some of these people run backyard ‘wrecking’ or ‘vehicle repair’ businesses,” VACC Executive Director David Purchase said.

It is the VACC’s concern that substandard parts are being purchased by motorists from these ‘backyarders’. Of even more concern is that some repairable write-offs are being inadequately repaired and finding their way back onto the roads.

“VACC is aware of some repairable write-offs being inadequately repaired by backyard operators and which subsequently can find their way back to our roads. This should not be allowed to occur. In the VACC’s view, the purchase of written-off vehicles (both types) should be restricted to licensed operators (LMCT’s).

In the VACC’s view, the purchase of written-off vehicles (both types) should be restricted to licensed operators (LMCT’s).

“This will then ensure that these vehicles do not fall into the hands of criminals who can use them for re-birthing stolen cars; it will also ensure that these cars are not purchased by backyard repairers, who commonly inadequately and incorrectly repair them before selling them as ‘private sales’, and others who run backyard wrecking operations.

The VACC has confirmed that this issue is currently being discussed “at length” with VicRoads, insurers and the Victorian government. To-date the VACC has been unable to persuade the government to introduce legislation restricting the purchase of written-off vehicles to licensed operators.

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