Personalised number plate car write-off

What happens to your personalised number plate if your car is written off?

This week a close friend of mine was unfortunate enough to be involved in a major car accident. Thankfully, she walked away in one piece. Aside from the obvious shock, whiplash injuries, and consequent headaches, she's OK.

The car accident was severe enough, though, for her car insurance company to write off a one-year old Mercedes SLK. Ouch.

Being into cars, this friend of mine also has a personalised number plate. Once it was established that the car was beyond economical repair (i.e. the car was a write-off), the first thing she needed to do was rescue her personalised number plate. Owners often don't realise how important this is... and the personalised registration number plate can easily be lost if they don't inform the insurance company.

I sent her this guide to what to do with a personalised number plate if your car is written off.

A personalised number plate, when assigned to a vehicle, does not (technically) belong to a person. It 'belongs' to the car. By virtue of the fact that a person is the 'registered keeper' of the car, the personalised registration belongs to the person.
If the ownership of the vehicle transfers to another person, so does the personalised number plate. Unless, that is, the personalised registration number plate is either retained or transferred to another vehicle first.

When a car is written off, and a settlement is agreed, ownership of the vehicle transfers to the insurance company, who may then sell it on to another party. Or they may decide to scrap the vehicle (in which case a Certificate of Destruction is sent to the DVLA).
The personalised number plate must be retained or transferred before that happens.

In summary, there are three main things you should do as soon as you are advised that your car is a write-off.


  1. Inform your insurance company that you have a personalised number plate
  2. Make sure the personalised registration number is placed onto a V778 Retention Document before you agree on a settlement
  3. Make sure the insurance company doesn't sell the car on or issue a certificate of destruction until the retention of the personalised car number plate is complete.

It’s important to keep in contact with the insurance company. Don't assume everything is in hand - companies make mistakes. And personalised number plates have been lost as a result.


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