Can You Insure a Car with a Salvage or Rebuilt Title?

Getting coverage for a salvage title car or rebuilt title car can be difficult, but it's not impossible.

Christine Lacagnina Written by Christine Lacagnina
Christine Lacagnina
Written by Christine Lacagnina

Christine Lacagnina has written thousands of insurance-based articles for by authoring consumable, understandable content.

Tow truck towing a broken down car on the street. Find Salvage Title Insurance.

If you own a salvage title car or rebuilt title car, it can be tricky to get it insured with the right coverage. Traditional car insurance policies aren't often sold to cover salvage titles, and not every insurance company will want to take the risk. Fortunately, with just a bit of effort, you can still get coverage for a salvage or rebuilt title car.

An independent insurance agent can make finding salvage title insurance easy. They'll make sure you get equipped with all the coverage you need for your vehicle. But for starters, here's a closer look at salvage title insurance.

What Is a Salvage Title Car? 

"Salvage title" refers to a vehicle that an auto insurance carrier has declared to be worth less than the cost to repair it, due to extreme damage. According to Keith Griffin, an automotive journalist and president of the New England Motor Press Association, "A salvage title is given to any vehicle that has sustained damage worth 75% or more of its value. For example, if you drive a 2002 Honda Civic worth $9,415 and it suffers $7,061 in damage in a collision, it’s going to be branded with a title stamped 'Salvage.'" Some states call this a "junk title" rather than a salvage title.

This brand stays with the vehicle for the rest of its time on the road, from owner to owner. You cannot change it once it has the brand of a salvage vehicle. This practice is in place to protect consumers from buying a car that may have structural flaws or compromised safety features. In fact, many car insurance companies won't write a policy for a salvage title car unless it gets rebuilt and then officially inspected.

Cars may be classified as salvage titles after they've been involved in an accident and totaled, or even after they've been stolen and badly damaged. But the end result is the same, the damage to the vehicle would cost more to repair than the car is worth. 

To qualify for a salvage title, the vehicle has typically experienced one of the following scenarios: 

  • Serious damage from an accident or a natural disaster (e.g., hurricane, flooding)
  • Has a manufacturing defect
  • Has an altered odometer
  • Has been stolen and badly damaged, then recovered

Totaled cars that can qualify for a salvage title brand include:

  • Collision-damaged cars
  • Flood-damaged cars 
  • Hail-damaged cars
  • Stolen cars that have been paid off by insurance and later recovered by law enforcement
  • Cars vandalized with spray paint, those that have suffered rolling damage, or those that have major dents and breakages

Any of these situations could cause the car to be proclaimed a total loss. According to the Kelley Blue Book, cars with salvage titles typically have 20% to 40% less value than an equivalent, non-salvaged car. Once you buy the car, have it rebuilt, and it passes a state inspection, you can then apply for a “rebuilt title” to drive on public roadways. 


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What Is a Rebuilt Title Vehicle?

A rebuilt title car or reconditioned title car still falls under the auspices of the salvage brand, and in most cases, it's a crime to sell a rebuilt vehicle without stating that it was once under a junk or salvaged title. While the term varies a bit from state to state, it's generally used to describe vehicles that were once branded as salvage and then underwent repairs or restorations. In most states, a car must pass several inspections to ensure that all safety features work correctly before a vehicle can receive a rebuilt title.

What Is Salvage Title Insurance? 

Salvage title car insurance isn’t really a unique type of auto coverage. It's simply car insurance applied to a vehicle with a salvage (or rebuilt) title. 

Most insurance companies will sell you a basic liability insurance policy for your salvage title automobile. This is reasonable when you consider that the car passed a state registration inspection. Plus, you are not at a higher risk of hitting another driver because your car has a salvage title. 

Can You Insure a Salvage or Rebuilt Title Car?

So, can you get full coverage insurance on a salvage title? It is possible when you know where to shop. Not all car insurance companies will want to take the risk of offering a full coverage policy for a salvage title car or rebuilt title car. But with the help of an independent insurance agent, you can easily find salvage title insurance in your area. 

Another option is to just get liability coverage. Liability is the easiest policy to buy for your salvage title auto. Liability insurance will safeguard you when an accident happens and you’re at fault. Adding comprehensive insurance and collision insurance to your coverage is possible, but can be a bit more complicated. Again, an independent insurance agent can help you find the coverage you need.

Are Salvage Titles More Expensive to Insure? 

Does a salvage title affect insurance costs? The answer is yes. Auto insurance costs are based on factors such as the car’s year, make, and model. 

Of course, the driver’s record has a big influence on the final premium, too. This is no different for salvage title cars. Even though your vehicle’s value has been downgraded, you shouldn't expect to receive a special discount. 

In fact, some insurance companies add a 20% surcharge when the insured vehicle has a salvage title or rebuilt title due to the increased risk factor. An independent insurance agent will be able to secure a variety of salvage title insurance quotes and give you the best pricing options. 

What Insurance Companies Cover Salvage Titles?

It’s been estimated that 20% to 30% of car insurance companies won't offer salvage title insurance. But if you know where to look, you can still find the coverage you need for your salvage title car. Some car insurance companies that offer salvage title insurance are better than others, though, which is why we've put together a list to make your coverage search easier.

Where can I get insurance on a salvage title?

Companies Offering Salvage Title Insurance Star Rating
5 star rating
4.5/5 star rating
American Family
4.5/5 star rating
The Hartford

These top-rated car insurance companies offer coverage for salvage titles. An independent insurance agent can help you secure a policy from one of these outstanding carriers.

What Documentation Will You Need to Insure a Salvage Title Car? 

Car insurers will probably ask you to submit copies of the following documents before issuing a policy for a salvage title: 

  • Salvage (or rebuilt) title
  • State vehicle registration
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Mechanic’s report or appraisal

The insurance company may perform its own inspection as well. 

In addition, the car insurance company may review the resources below to learn more details about your salvage title:

  • The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), to confirm the vehicle is listed as having a salvage title.
  • The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) for a review of the vehicle history and condition.
  • CARFAX is also helpful when verifying the vehicle’s history and condition.

If you have any further questions about the process of insuring your salvage title, contact your independent insurance agent.


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The Benefits of Working with an Independent Insurance Agent

Independent insurance agents are pros at insuring vehicles of all kinds, including salvage titles. They'll make sure you get set up with all the car insurance you need to fully protect your salvage title. And since they shop and compare policy rates and options from multiple carriers for you, they'll also make sure you walk away with the best blend of coverage and cost. Now that's convenient.

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