What is Salvage title? US States Rebuilt Title Rules Car Insurance

Can You Insure Salvage Car in Washington? 

By Mike Richards Updated: 06/02/2022 Posted: 10/16/2015

Many people now turn to used car auctions to find cheap used cars. You can access car auctions online where you will be able to bid on salvage cars and could save a great deal of money. However, before you choose this route, there are some things you need to know about salvage cars.


It’s not as simple as transferring a title and hitting the road.  There are many requirements that have to be fulfilled before you can drive these cars legally. As each state has its own separate rules about salvage cars, it is important that you understand those in Washington if you are a resident of that state.


What is a Salvage Car?

Salvage cars follow a specific set of guidelines. According to the state of Washington, salvage cars are cars that have been damaged beyond what is economical to repair.


If a vehicle owner makes an insurance claim on that car, the insuring company will evaluate the damage. If they consider the car cannot be repaired without spending beyond its worth, then it will be listed as totaled. The owner will then receive a replacement and the insurance company will change the original car status to salvage and sell it through auction.


When this happens, the title should have the word “destroyed” written in bold letters across it. The state of Washington also has a few rules about a vehicle with this status. A salvage car cannot be driven. It cannot even be parked on a public road. It must be towed everywhere even if it is in working order.


Retitling a Salvage Car

Buying totaled cars can save you money even with repairs, but you will have to deal with some red tape. However, once the following steps are taken care of, you will be able to drive your salvage car as normal.

  • Have the car repaired. This doesn’t refer to cosmetic damage, but to anything that could interfere with the safety or roadworthiness of the vehicle.
  • Have the car towed to a state patrol office. Do not drive it. That is illegal. You will need to schedule an appointment.
  • Have the car inspected and approved by the Washington State Patrol.
  • Pay any fees and licensing costs.


As long as the salvage car meets these criteria, it will receive a new title labeled WA Rebuilt. To receive this certification, the car must be newer than five years old. Or it must meet this list of criteria:

  • The car is between six and 20 years old.
  • It must be classified as a car, an SUV, or a pickup truck.
  • It must have a before damage retail value of more than $7,880.

If your salvage car fits into one of these categories, it has passed the Washington State Patrol vehicle inspection. You will have a WA Rebuilt title issued to you.


Insure Salvage Car in Washington

When you have the WA Rebuilt title for your car, then you can begin looking at insurance coverage options. It usually is a good idea to look at more than one insurance company.


They will each handle salvage and rebuilt cars in different ways. Some prefer not to cover them at all even though the car has passed inspection. Others will limit the coverage to just liability. That may be acceptable to you, but if you continue looking at various insurance companies, you may find one that will offer comprehensive coverage.


As long as you can provide the inspection report as well as a copy of the WA Rebuilt title, then you will be able to insure salvage car in Washington, enough to make the vehicle legal. Then, you can drive it as normal.


Where Do You Buy a Salvage Car?

Many people prefer to buy a salvage car through an online auction. An online car auction can make your life much easier simply because you can shop for and bid on vehicles from the comfort of your own home. Salvage car auctions are in most cases open to the public, and if you choose the right auction house, they will even arrange delivery of the vehicle even if you purchased it out of state.


When you shop for vehicles online, make sure you are looking at salvage car auctions specifically. New vehicles that may be up for auction aren’t available to non-dealers. You would have to be a dealer to have access to them.


You may be surprised at the quality of the salvage cars you can get through an online auction. Remember that not all of them were damaged in a collision. Hail damage may only have dented the vehicle, but it could be listed as salvage. Flooding can require some serious repairs, but as far as the look of the vehicle, it won’t be affected at all. So, for pennies on the dollar, you can purchase a nice-looking salvage car, do some repairs, and get it retitled in exchange for paying a few fees.


While the state of Washington does have some strict rules about getting a WA Rebuilt title, once you do get your salvage vehicle repaired and inspected, then you should find it fairly easy to get insurance coverage.


Read more on the official Procedures in This State, or on Rebuilt Title Laws for Other US States. Explore our Vehicle Auctions and find info on Buying With Us.