red car smashing into pieces upon impact.

A totaled car isn’t necessarily sentenced to the junkyard. It’s possible to have the vehicle fixed up and get back on the road. There are a few important things hoops to jump through in order to get a new title and insurance for a totaled car. Here’s everything you need to know about dealing with a vehicle once a salvage title has been issued.

What is a Car Title?

The title of a vehicle is a document which proves legal ownership. When you purchase a new or used car, the title will be put in your name as the owner. If the auto is leased or financed, the title will remain in the name of the leasing company or lender.

A car title should include information like the vehicle identification number (VIN), mileage, date of the sale and sales price. It will also record the name of the seller and the new owner of the car.

Why is the Title Important if the Car is Totaled?

If your car has been totaled in an accident, you will need to have your title handy. Each state has slightly different guidelines for determining when a car is totaled. In Pennsylvania, for example, a damaged vehicle is considered a total loss when it would cost more to repair than its value after the crash.

A vehicle is a total loss when the cost to return it back to the pre-damaged condition is more than the value of the vehicle or the vehicle is damaged too severely for repairs. There are different methods that can be used to calculate the replacement value of your vehicle. If you have questions regarding the method used, contact your insurance agent or company. – The Pennsylvania Insurance Department

What Are My Options with a Totaled Car?

If you have a totaled car on your hands, you have two options:

Option 1: Sign Over the Title & Get Money from Insurance

When a car is totaled, the owner then signs over the title to the insurance company. Because the comprehensive or collision insurance covers the expenses related to the accident and the damage, it has the right to repossess the car. By signing over the title, the owner essentially gives the totaled car to the insurance company. In return, the insurance company pays the (previous) owner fair market value for the vehicle.

Most people choose to sign over the title of the vehicle in return for a cash payout from the insurance company. Then, this money can go towards buying a new or used car to replace it.

What is a Salvage Title?

When a car is considered totaled, the state bureau of motor vehicles issues a salvage certificate for the car. This certification means that the car can no longer be driven, sold or registered due to severe damage. Usually, this kind of title is requested by the insurance company once the owner has signed over the totaled car and received a payout. With a salvage title, the insurance company can then have the car disassembled or have its salvageable parts sold.

Option 2: Have the Car Fixed & Request a New Title

If it has been deemed totaled or issued a salvage title, it doesn’t necessarily signify the death of the vehicle. The owner can choose to have a totaled car repaired.

In this case, instead of signing the title over to the insurance, you would request a salvage title. Then, you should get an insurance payout equal to the value of the auto, after the deductible and estimated junkyard value has been subtracted. Next, the car must be repaired and pass a safety inspection before a new title will be issued.

There are some hurdles to owning a salvaged car. For example, past salvage titles will remain on the car’s record and can be seen when a potential buyer runs a VIN check. This often makes it harder to sell. But, for those who are attached to their vehicle, it may be worth it.

Get more information: Pennsylvania Title Requirements for Cars with Salvage Certificates.

Can I Get Insurance for a Totaled Car?

Every car that drives on the road must be insured. Getting insurance coverage for a car with a salvage title is possible, but can be difficult. Most agencies want to avoid responsibility for the extra safety risks associated with a car that has had extensive damage.

After being repaired, the vehicle must pass inspection proving that it is roadworthy in order to be insured. The insurance company is likely to require:

  • Detailed mechanical check,
  • On-sight physical damage inspection by an insurance agent, AND
  • Up-to-date pictures of the car from all angles.

Finally, when the car has passed these tests, you can request a policy from an agency that agrees to insure vehicles with a salvage title on its record.

Get more information here: Should I Use the Body Shop Recommended by my Insurance Company?

For more information on car repairs, contact Badell’s Collision. Our auto body shops in Aston and Malvern provide exceptional service no matter what condition your vehicle is in. Use the online estimate form for a quick quote.

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