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What is Salvage title? Car Insurance

Salvage Cars and Insurance Companies

By Mike Richards Updated: 05/23/2019 Posted: 10/24/2015

If you’re restoring a salvage car with an eye to getting it registered in your own name so you can drive it, you’re going to have to comply with all the laws of your state – and one of those laws is to have at least a minimum level of insurance coverage on your rebuilt salvage car.

However, this turns out to be easier said than done in many cases, as insurance companies are sometimes quite reticent to offer coverage to a rebuilt salvage vehicle. Here’s why it’s so difficult to do so – and also how to get around these difficulties anyway so you can drive your rebuilt salvage car.

Salvage Cars and Insurance Companies

When a car gets into an accident, the vehicle’s insurer figures out how much it will cost to repair the damage. If this final figure is more than they’re willing to pay because it exceeds the value of the car, insurers will offer to write off the car by agreeing to provide a check to the owner for the value of the car instead. This is what happens when a car is “totaled” in an accident.

If the owner agrees to receive money instead of getting their car fixed, the insurer will take possession of the vehicle. This car or truck then gets re-classified as salvage, a process which involves getting its old title certificate traded in for one branded “salvage” instead. From this point on, the car can’t be driven legally, and it’s just a drain on an insurer’s resources, so these salvage cars are often sold at auction to anyone who will come for them.

Rebuilt salvage cars, when they come back into circulation, are therefore just vehicles that have already been totaled by another insurer. Since every insurer knows that most rebuilt salvage vehicles were at one point damaged enough to warrant them being written off, most want little to do with it.

Getting Insured Anyhow

However, you can still sometimes convince insurance providers to take you on as a policyholder. This usually involves inviting a car insurance agent to examine your salvage vehicle thoroughly, looking for damage that might still be present or for evidence of shoddy repair work.

If your car passes this inspection, it’s not uncommon that an insurance provider becomes willing to do business with you. You’ll receive state minimum PLPD coverage quite easily in situations like this, but in many instances, you’ll also be informed that the state of your salvage car is in good enough condition to warrant more extensive coverage options like comprehensive insurance or collision coverage.

Bear in mind that even if you win over your insurer with the quality of your rebuilt salvage vehicle, you’re still not much of a good risk when it comes to insurance itself. Your premium price is still likely to be quite high, and it’s no surprise considering how even the most thorough of inspections can’t possibly catch every little thing that’s wrong with the car. This means there are still lots of risks involved in insuring a salvage car.

Still, when it comes to a choice between driving around town in a salvage car that’s barely got enough coverage to make it street legal or spending a moderate amount more to secure the kind of coverage that provides you peace of mind, which would you choose?

Find information on Rebuilt Title Laws for Each US State. Explore our Vehicle Auctions and find information on Buying With Us.

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