Understanding Salvage Titles
What is NMVTIS and how is it used?
NMVTIS is National Motor Vehicle Title Information System hosted by the US Department of Justice to protect consumers from fraud and unsafe vehicles and to keep stolen vehicles from being resold.
All States’ DMVs report the data to NMVTIS and check against NMVTIS database every time the title is transferred so that unsafe and stolen vehicles are not resold. Each DMV has the right to deem any title branded according to the records in the NMVTIS database.
Please note that all Clean title vehicles sold through salvage auctions have a chance of the title becoming salvage when processed by a DMV. Please refer to http://www.vehiclehistory.gov for details.
Some general points on Salvage title
Generally, Salvage title denotes that the vehicle has been damaged and/or deemed a total loss by an insurance company that paid a claim on it. Effectively, if the car was damaged to the point that the insurance company deemed the car to be a total loss, the car will then have a salvage title.
The amount of damage that is required for a car to be deemed a total loss varies from State to State. Some States mandate that a total loss should equal 50% of the car value, others can go as high as 95% – 100% of the car value, while other States allow the insurer to decide its threshold for a total loss.
A salvage vehicle cannot be legally driven on the road. Once the car has been repaired and declared roadworthy, it will get a rebuilt brand on the title.
Some states have “junk,” “scrap” or “dismantled” designation that prevents the most heavily damaged cars from being rebuilt and retitled. Some will issue flood- or hail-specific salvage titles. Some States will issue salvage titles to stolen vehicles. The exact definitions and terms vary by state, and many people use the terms interchangeably.
Sometimes you may hear a salvage title or rebuilt title referred to as a “branded title”.
What are the various reasons that a vehicle gets a Salvage Title?
Contrary to popular belief, the vehicle with a salvage title has not always been in a collision. Rather there are some other events in a vehicle’s history that can lead to salvage title designation either under state law or insurance carrier policy.
Flood Damage: Flood-damaged vehicles are not always designated as a salvaged. Some states will use a special designation for flood damage while others simply include flood damage under the general category of “salvage title.”
Hail Damage: Hail damage can range from a few dings to severe damage to a vehicle’s exterior. Some states have a specific “hail damage” designation or treat severe hail damage as a precondition for a salvage title.
Theft Recovery: When a vehicle has been stolen the insurance company will reimburse the owner for its replacement value after a certain period. If the vehicle is eventually recovered, the insurance company will likely sell it to a salvager. Some states will then issue a salvage title for the car.
States that issue a salvage title after a car has been stolen include: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma and Oregon.
Repairable After Damage: The most common example involves a car with severe damage which can be repaired and made operable again. In these cases, the state will allow the vehicle to be repaired, on the condition that the title is labeled as “salvaged.”