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How to Retain Your Salvaged Car?

By Mike Richards Updated: 05/22/2019 Posted: 10/16/2015

There are various reasons why some individuals choose to retain control over their salvage car.

For some, the vehicle is a classic, and they are confident that they can repair it. Some individuals truly enjoy the hobby of fixing up cars, so they would just as soon keep the car or truck. Others might hold on to a salvage vehicle for sentimental reasons, and still others might do so in order to save some money.

Whatever the reason might be, it is possible to retain your salvaged car, but you will be required to follow certain legal obligations that may differ from state to state.

The Steps Required

Assuming that you own the car outright, you will want to make sure that you go through the following process to end up with a properly issued salvage certificate that can later be turned back into a rebuilt title.

  1. The vehicle must have been wrecked in some form or another, or be damaged beyond the point of being able to be repaired economically.
  2. Your insurance company will need to give you a repair estimate. This is important because if the estimate for repairs exceeds a certain predetermined percentage of the market value of the vehicle, it will likely be designated as salvage.
  3. The insurance company will need to declare the car or truck as a total loss. Most states allow insurance companies to do this when the estimated cost of the repairs is more than 75% of the actual cash value of the car, as determined by the insurance company.
  4. At this point, the insurance company will likely make you a settlement offer. Typically, you will be offered cash that you can then use to replace your existing vehicle with another one of a similar make or model. It is also at this point that your insurance company should give you a vehicle valuation report. This document is very important, so make sure that you keep it.
  5. You should meticulously review the vehicle valuation report to make sure that you agree with it. Remember that you do not have to agree with it. If you feel that the value offered for the car or truck is not fair, then you can contact a third-party for an appraisal. It is at this point that some type of agreement will need to be reached with the insurance company, and a retention value for your vehicle is determined.

Making a decision

Once you complete the last step, the decision process begins. If you accept the cash settlement offer from the insurance company, then they will retain the salvage car and sell it at a car auction.

If an insurance company shows that they can get $1,000 for the car at an auction, and they offer you $10,000 in exchange, then you have two choices. You can either accept the $10,000 and they keep the car, or you can take $9,000 and you retain the car.

This is how you can retain your salvaged car. Just remember that the car cannot be driven until it is suitably repaired, and is registered and insured according to the laws of your state.

Find information on Rebuilt Title Laws for Each US State. Explore our Vehicle Auctions, as well as finding more information about How These Auctions Work.