Auto Insurance for Salvage Vehicles (Complete Guide)

Salvage title insurance is available but may be limited. Auto insurance companies may not offer collision and comprehensive coverage for salvage vehicles. Requirements to insure a salvage car are different depending on the state.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: May 5, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • It is easy to get liability auto insurance for salvage vehicles
  • Comprehensive and collision insurance can be a problem, depending on the insurance company’s rules
  • Insurance companies that offer collision insurance on salvage vehicles often impose strict value limits
  • Salvage vehicle insurance rates are generally higher than those for typical cars

What are salvage title cars?

What does it mean if a car has been salvaged? Can you insure a salvage title car? If you have a salvage title vehicle, you may be asking these questions.

Salvage vehicles are cars that have been deemed by an insurance company to be a total loss and then rebuilt or repaired to sell. Often, the car was in a serious collision, but it could also have been severely damaged by something like a flood or vandalism.

Once an insurance company decides the cost of repairs is greater than the worth of the vehicle, it is declared a loss, and the claim is paid out.

The insurance company sells the car to a repair company to be rebuilt if the damages are not too severe, or sometimes you can buy your car back from the insurance company.

Even some of the best auto insurance companies may have fewer coverage options and lower claim payouts on vehicles that are heavily damaged. This doesn’t mean that car insurance for a salvage title doesn’t exist. You may end up paying more, or not have the amount of coverage you want. 

Shop around now to compare auto insurance quotes for salvage vehicles to find the best coverage.

Which auto insurance company for salvage vehicles has the best rates? Enter your ZIP code into our free comparison tool to start comparing auto insurance rates for salvage vehicles today. 

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Can you get insurance on a salvage title?

A commonly asked question is, “Can you drive a car with a salvage title?” Yes you can, you’ll just need to make sure it’s properly covered while you have it on the road, and that it’s been deemed drivable. Insurance companies and other salespersons sell salvage title cars after they’ve been rebuilt from less severe damage.

Can you insure a car with a salvage title?

Buying auto insurance for restored vehicles that were previously salvaged is not impossible. Although companies may limit the coverages available and limit payout amounts depending on the original damage to the car, you can generally find a company that will offer you coverage. 

Shop around for car insurance for a salvage car just as you would for a standard vehicle to find the best insurance for you.

Many different companies will offer you auto insurance, but most of them will be non-standard companies like The General that cater to high-risk drivers. You may be charged more for car insurance simply because of the type of company that is willing to offer you coverage.

If you can find a standard company that will offer you coverage, your rates should be comparable to those for a non-salvage car. 

What kind of auto insurance coverage can you get on a salvage car?

If you’re wondering, “Can I get full coverage on a salvage title?” the answer might be tentative. Often companies will have reduced offers for salvage titles. However, most states require that you at least carry liability insurance on your vehicle, so you’ll need to make sure you have the minimum. 

You will need to check with an agent in your state to determine the amount of liability insurance and any additional coverages that are required.

Because people who drive a salvaged vehicle are not more likely to cause an accident than anyone else, most car insurance companies will readily sell you a liability insurance policy for your car.

Liability auto insurance coverage will cover any damages to other vehicles, property, and people in an accident that you cause, up to a certain amount. It will not cover any damages to your vehicle or people in your car.

Companies will generally also offer collision and comprehensive, and if you’re lucky you can find cheap personal injury protection (PIP) coverages, as well as others, but they may not offer them on a rebuilt vehicle. 

So can you get full coverage insurance on a salvage title? It’s possible to get full coverage auto insurance on your salvage car if you find the right company. It will just take a bit of research on your part.

Shopping around for car insurance on a rebuilt vehicle is a must, not only to get the coverage you want but to get it at a great price. Take a look at how rates in your state might affect the cost of these different types of coverage.

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The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) collects data regarding insurance rates. We will use that data to give you some idea of rates for different types of coverage nationwide.

One thing to note is that your rates will vary based on many different factors, like your age and driving history. However, these numbers will give you a baseline.

This table will show you the five year average of the cost of liability insurance by state. Search for your state in the box below to see the average where you live.

Average Annual Liability Auto Insurance Rates by State
StateAverage Annual Liability Auto Insurance
North Dakota$282.55
South Dakota$289.04
North Carolina$357.59
New Hampshire$393.24
New Mexico$462.21
South Carolina$497.50
West Virginia$501.44
District of Columbia$628.09
Rhode Island$720.06
New York$784.98
New Jersey$865.55
U.S. Average$516.39
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How did your state do against the national average of $516.39? Are you lucky enough to live in one of the states with a lower-than-average rate, or do you live in a state that pays above the national average?

Of course, these numbers have changed over time, but this gives you a good idea of the cost of liability insurance in your state.

Additional coverage might be available, depending on the state where you live, the shape of your salvaged car, and the insurance company.

The cost of the vehicle itself is much less, but you will probably have to settle for a much lower payout from your insurance company if you have a loss on the vehicle.

Though lots of insurance companies offer collision coverage on salvaged autos, limited coverage is fairly standard with salvage vehicles — from excluding coverage for the initial damage to the car to lower payout limits for a new claim.

Most insurance companies will pay only 80 percent of the replacement cost for a similar vehicle, so having some cash reserves is necessary.

Because each state regulates salvage vehicles and car insurance differently, coverages can vary widely. You’ll need to know what the laws are in your particular state to get the best deal on the correct coverage.

Now we’re going to show you the average cost of additional coverages by state. We’ll look at collision and comprehensive coverages specifically.

Search for your state in this table that shows you the average rates for collision insurance. Collision coverage is a great add-on since it will cover damages to your car if an accident occurs.

Average Annual Collision Auto Insurance Rates by State
StateAverage Annual Collision Auto Insurance
District of Columbia$449.27
New Hampshire$281.70
New Jersey$365.23
New Mexico$267.48
New York$358.45
North Carolina$264.58
North Dakota$227.44
Rhode Island$377.06
South Carolina$247.62
South Dakota$200.10
West Virginia$319.10
Countrywide Average$299.73
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South Dakota has the lowest average for collision insurance at just $200.10. The District of Columbia has the highest at $449.27, which more than doubles South Dakota’s rate. It is also $200 higher than the countywide average.

Let’s look at the state averages for comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage is nice to have since it acts almost like a warranty and covers repairs to your car not caused by an accident, like a transmission repair. But it’s extremely hard to get comprehensive coverage on a rebuilt car.

Average Annual Comprehensive Auto Insurance Rates by State
StatesAverage Annual Comprehensive Auto Insurance
New Hampshire$103.03
Rhode Island$122.17
North Carolina$123.00
New Jersey$123.18
New York$156.66
South Carolina$165.38
New Mexico$166.89
West Virginia$195.04
North Dakota$227.64
South Dakota$228.59
District of Columbia$230.25
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Oregon, Maine, and California all had rates under $100. The District of Columbia was again the highest at $230.25, almost $100 higher than the national average.

Only you can decide if the coverage that you can purchase for your vehicle is enough for your financial situation.

Find out how much auto insurance coverage is in your local area by entering your ZIP code in the free comparison tool.

What documents are required for auto insurance for a salvage title car?

You probably will need to provide safety and mechanical inspection documentation to your insurance company before buying a policy, which might also be necessary to register the vehicle at your local DMV.

Be sure that you know why the car was totaled and what the branding on the title says, as the insurance company will want this information. Getting a copy of the accident report, if applicable, can speed up the process of getting the car insured.

Be aware that some auto insurance companies will insure vehicles declared a total loss by other companies, but not those they have totaled themselves.

Do not expect to obtain comprehensive insurance for your vehicle; most insurance companies do not extend comprehensive coverage to salvaged autos.

Always do your comparison shopping to make sure you get the best coverage and the best pricing for your salvage car.

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What limitations will you have driving your rebuilt car?

Although there are no legal limitations to driving a rebuilt car, many services like Uber and Lyft will not allow their drivers to drive a car that has been salvaged.

Some delivery services like Postmates and Doordash do not specify what type of vehicle must be used, so a car with a rebuilt title would be fine.

How do you know if a car was salvaged?

When searching for a new vehicle, if you come across a car that has a price that seems too good to be true, utilize the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) to get information about the title history.

Always question the seller about proof of insurance when transferring a car title. You may find that the vehicle has a salvage title and the owner was hoping no one would ask about this. 

Being aware of the vehicle’s title status and history is imperative, as this information has implications for the vehicle’s mechanical and structural longevity as well as for obtaining insurance to cover it completely.

Once a vehicle with a salvaged title is repaired, it can then be issued a rebuilt title. The Texas DMV offers a good definition of a rebuilt title.

This will usually require an inspection to be completed before the car is deemed drivable. States can also require additional documentation before issuing a rebuilt title.

What’s the difference between a rebuilt and salvage title?

Let’s look at the different title options available.

Types of Vehicle Titles
Vehicle Title DetailsClean TitleSalvage TitleRebuilt Title
Issuing FactorsIssued for new or used vehicles with little to no damageIssued for vehicles whose damages exceed the value of the vehicleIssued for vehicles that were salvaged but have been repaired and passed an inspection
ProsNo damage or repairs to deal withUsually very cheap to purchaseCheaper than a new or used car to purchase
ConsMost expensive upfront costNo insurance available, can't be driven legally, and repairs can be costlyCan be driven legally but can be hard to find more than liability insurance
Color of TitleGreenBlueOrange
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The table above shows you the differences between clean, salvage, and rebuilt titles.

Cars with clean titles have no major repairs needed, but that can cause the purchase price to be high. These cars should be the most expensive but the easiest to deal with.

Salvage cars are very cheap upfront, but they will require extensive repairs.

The repairs need to be done by an expert to ensure there are no safety issues. The labor and parts can be very costly.

Rebuilt cars can be a headache and will be very costly if repairs are not done completely and correctly. However, if the repairs are done correctly, the vehicle will be a good deal. Can you put full coverage on a rebuilt title? You can, but you should consider the pros and cons when it comes to a rebuilt vehicle. You need to be very careful if you’re thinking about buying a rebuilt car.

The titles are also printed on different colored paper, depending on their status. Clean titles are generally green, salvage titles are blue, and rebuilt titles are orange. This can vary depending on your state.

Cars that have been rebuilt can save you money on the purchase price but can be costly if all the repairs are not completed properly.

Let’s get into some of the finer details about buying a salvaged car.

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Why would you want a salvaged car over a new or used car?

A salvaged car will usually come at a bargain; however, there will also be some extra hoops to jump through, and you may not be able to cover it with insurance as well as you would like.

One additional concern to note is that most lenders will not offer you a loan on a vehicle with a salvage title, meaning you will probably have to pay the seller in cash for a salvage vehicle.

Still, a salvage vehicle can be a great value for owners that are ready to deal with the documentation, inspections, and any repairs that might be imminent.

Buying auto insurance for salvage and rebuilt vehicles is a process, so we want to share some tips with you before you make your purchase.

Is insurance more expensive for salvage cars? It depends on the company the level of coverage you need. Auto insurance companies may only offer liability auto insurance since the car has a salvage title.

Start comparing auto insurance using our free comparison tool by entering your ZIP code in the dialog box below.

Should I buy a salvage title car?

When considering a salvage vehicle, there certain factors may make a large difference in the value of the vehicle, costs for repairs down the line, and the cost of insuring your new-to-you car. Let’s take a look at what you need to know to get the best value and least hassle overall.

No matter what car you’re buying, it’s important to do your research. Here are a few factors to consider when looking at a rebuilt car:

  • Run a vehicle report on the VIN for the car to see what damages have been reported.
  • Ask the seller why the vehicle was salvaged.
  • Ask for a detailed list of repairs that were completed and find out who completed them.
  • Have the vehicle checked by a mechanic you trust.
  • Speak with insurance companies to find out what type of insurance they will offer you.

Even though buying a rebuilt car can seem like a steal, if you don’t do your research, it can turn into a money pit.

What kinds of damage will cause a car to be labeled salvage?

When does the insurance company salvage a car?

There are many types of damage that might brand a car as salvage beyond just collision damage. Some different reasons a car might be salvaged are:

  • Flood damage
  • Hail damage
  • Fire damage
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Heavily used taxis
  • Law enforcement vehicle
  • Returned under warranty or lemon laws

That is a long list of items to look out for when purchasing a salvage or rebuilt title. It’s important to take your time and look closely at the car. You don’t want to be surprised by any extensive damages found after the purchase.

In some states, any car that is stolen receives a salvage title — Florida, Arizona, Illinois, Maryland, and New York among them.

Of course, these cars are often still in good shape or easily repairable.

Flood damage is very hard for a car to recover from. Often where there has been a hurricane or other natural disaster, the used car market will be inundated with vehicles with extensive flood damage.

That’s why it’s important to run a report about the car from a trusted source like Carfax or Autocheck.

Big tip: stay away from flood-damaged cars.

Sometimes the damage to a vehicle is too extensive for it to be repaired and resold.

What’s the difference between a non-repairable and salvage title?

Non-repairable title branding means that the state most likely will not allow the car to be fixed and registered. Vehicles with this title branding are only to be sold for parts or destroyed.

Run if someone tries to sell you a non-repairable vehicle.

How do I get a salvage title cleared?

In some states, getting a legal title requires lots of documentation. There are many steps to the process. Each state will have its own rules and laws for taking a salvage title to a rebuilt title.

For instance, the DMV in California requires a title application that shows the cost of all the repairs done to the salvaged vehicle, proof of ownership, an inspection certificate from the California Highway Patrol, and a brake and light inspection certificate.

Ordering a vehicle history report from the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System can help ferret out salvage title issues from other states that are relatively hidden.

What are the procedures involved in a rebuilt vehicle inspection?

Each state also has its own requirements when it comes to allowing a rebuilt car to be driven on public roads. Physical inspections are a requirement but the location and inspectors vary from state to state.

All states require applications and physical inspections, but some states go even further.

These are just a few examples:

  • Nevada – If the vehicle is five model years old or newer, the vehicle must be inspected before any repairs are made. After the repairs are complete, an application is needed, along with a certificate of another inspection.
  • Tennessee – In order to receive a rebuilt title, the owner must show the salvage certificate, color photos of the vehicle before repairs, and receipts for all replacement parts, plus complete inspection and pay fees.
  • Texas – To insure a vehicle with a rebuilt title for insurance in Texas, the rebuilt vehicle must pass safety and anti-theft inspection tests. Also, it must pass other state-mandated standards if you want to drive the vehicle on the road.
  • Georgia – You must have an original salvage title, photos of the damaged vehicle before repairs, applications, receipts for parts used, pass an inspection, and the work must be done by a licensed rebuilder.

Since there can be many rules involved, you will want to check your state’s requirements to ensure your title can change from salvage to rebuilt. You would not want to complete repairs only to find out you missed something at the beginning of the process.

Overall, buying a salvage vehicle can be a good deal. However, it takes some research skills and some extra steps to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting for your money and that it will be adequate for your needs.

Can you insure a salvage vehicle? Absolutely. Are you looking to buy auto insurance for salvage vehicles? If so, make sure you get the right coverage for the right price.

Enter your ZIP code into our free comparison tool to get started finding affordable auto insurance for salvage vehicles.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Auto Insurance for Salvage Vehicles

For the final section of this guide, we’ll recap the article and answer questions you see on search engines across the internet. Visit our other guides and reviews on the main page for more information.

#1 – Can you get auto insurance for salvage title cars?

Yes. Auto insurance for salvage title cars has limited coverage options.

#2 – What are the best insurance companies for salvage title auto insurance?

Some auto insurance companies are hesitant when covering a car with a salvage title. For example, Progressive won’t offer auto insurance for salvage title cars but will offer auto insurance to rebuilt title cars.

#3 – Are salvage title cars more expensive to insure?

Salvage title cars are expensive to fix. Once you have it insured, your options are auto insurance coverage may be limited to liability coverage.

#4 – Does AAA cover salvage title cars?

AAA auto insurance won’t insure a salvage car unless you have another car with a clear title on an existing auto insurance policy.

#5 – Can I get full coverage auto insurance on a salvage title car?

It’s not likely. Salvage title cars, before being rebuilt, have several problems that auto insurance companies may find too risky to insure.

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