Can a Car With a Salvage Title Be Insured?

If you’re shopping around for a used car from a private party, then you have likely come across a few cars with salvage titles. The prices for these cars are tempting, considering they’re usually marked well below the market value of ones with clean titles. But if you were to pull the trigger on one of these branded cars, would you be able to get it insured?

Salvage title cars need to be rebuilt

Rescuers walk by a car partially submerged in the water on a flooded road.
Rescuers walk by a car partially submerged in the water on a flooded road. | (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP) (Photo by VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

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A clean-titled car is declared salvaged – or a “total loss” – when it has suffered a significant amount of damage that exceeds the certain percentage of a car’s value, explains ValuePenguin. If the owner of the car decides to rebuild it, then it can be inspected by the state and qualify for a “rebuilt” title. When a car receives a rebuilt title, then it can be driven and even sold, according to Car and Driver.

Is it possible to get insurance for a car with a salvage title?

A claims adjuster assesses the damage to a vehicle.
A claims adjuster assesses the damage to a vehicle. | (Photo by Jack Hardmann/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Since salvaged cars are considered a “total loss” by the insurance company, you technically can’t get insurance for them. However, if the car is rebuilt, inspected, and subsequently receives a “rebuilt” title, then you can get insurance for it.

According to How Stuff Works, most insurance companies will insure a car with a rebuilt title, but they typically offer coverage for “liability only.” This means that some insurance won’t insure a rebuilt vehicle with “comprehensive” or “collision” coverage like they would for their clean-titled counterparts.

One of the reasons for the lack of coverage is that if you were to get into an accident with a rebuilt car, it could be hard for an insurance company to tell where the new, and previous, the damage was done. They also account for the possibility that a rebuilt title car would be more prone to breaking down in the future.

How do you get insurance for a rebuilt car?

A damaged car of the Italian Carabinieri police (R) is pictured next to the wreckage of a school bus.
A damaged car of the Italian Carabinieri police (R) is pictured next to the wreckage of a school bus. | (Photo by Flavio LO SCALZO / AFP) (Photo credit should read FLAVIO LO SCALZO/AFP via Getty Images)

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Shop around. If you currently own or are planning to purchase a car with a rebuilt title, then your best bet would be to call around to a few insurance companies and get quotes. Don’t worry, no one will hang up on you when you tell them the car has a branded title.

They might, however, tell you that they can cover the car at an elevated cost. Again, rebuilt cars are more of a liability, so some insurance companies might account for that and charge you more. According to Car and Driver, some insurance companies might even ask for the following:

  • A certified mechanic’s statement ensures that the car is in good working order.
  • Photo of the vehicle in its current state so that they know what kind of damage has been done
  • A repair estimate of the previous damages and their repairs. This is so that they can prove that the repairs were adequately done

Is it worth it to insure a car with a rebuilt title?

Yes, especially if you get the car for a good deal and know that the repairs were done well. Basically, if you’re sure that the rebuilt car that you’re buying will last you a while and is currently in good working order, then it would be worth it to insure it and drive it.

However, if you plan to buy a car that spent the rest of its life in a junkyard, or has really extensive damage that can cause issues later on, then we would suggest passing on it altogether. The cost of rebuilding and insuring such a car might not be worth it.