How to Insure a Revived Salvage Title Vehicle in California

Totaled car crash aftermath
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Are you looking for a good deal on a car in the state of California? Depending on the amount of money you'd like to spend on a vehicle, a salvage title vehicle might seem pretty tempting. Understanding the salvage title vehicle laws in California can be very beneficial in your decision-making process. Most people know car insurance is required in order to legally drive a car, but can you insure a salvage title vehicle in California?

What Does California Consider to Be a Salvage Vehicle?

A lot of different things can factor into a vehicle becoming a salvage. Most states including California go by the 80 percent rule. If the damage costs 80 percent or more than the value of the vehicle at the time the damage occurs, then the vehicle will be reported to the DMV for a salvage title.

Pro Tip: Beware of purchasing a vehicle which was totaled out (or even not totaled out) due to flood. Flooding can cause extensive damage and a lot of it can be hiding where you can not see it. Make sure a mechanic of your choosing has fully inspected the vehicle before you make a deal. It is often best advised for everyone to avoid a flooded vehicle because it poses too many problems.

A salvage title vehicle is great for being parted out, but it is not safe enough to drive on the road. It is not fit to be insured either.

Once a vehicle gets a salvage title it is often sent to the scrap yard. It is not legal to drive a salvage title vehicle in California.

What Is a Revived Salvage Title?

Leave it to California to call a rebuilt salvage title a revived salvage title. Much more fitting don't you think? Whether you use the term rebuilt or revived, it means the same thing.

A revived vehicle has been repaired and made fully operational again after a total loss was reported by the owner or insurance company. It is very important to get a revived status on the salvage title before purchasing car insurance and driving it. The DMV of CA lays out the steps for getting a vehicle approved for a Revived Salvage Title.

How to Insure Your Revived California Salvage Title

California's minimum car insurance laws require 15,000/30,000/5,000 liability limits. Usually, a vehicle with a revived title is an inexpensive vehicle which does not require full coverage. Most insurance companies will not want to cover the vehicle for physical damage due to its prior damage.

If You Have Current Car Insurance: 

  • Call your current car insurance agent and ask to have the rebuilt title vehicle added to your current policy. 
  • Provide the year, make, model, and VIN of the vehicle.
  • Get the same liability limits as listed on your other vehicle.
  • Ask about comprehensive and collision coverage if you want it. It might be possible to get the coverage if your insurance company does its own inspection of the vehicle.

If You Need a New Car Insurance Policy:

  • Start by checking rates at several different car insurance carriers. Let the agent know you are looking to insure a revived salvage title vehicle.
  • Provide the year, make, model, and VIN of the vehicle.
  • Provide information on all drivers including names, birthdates, and driving history.
  • Provide residence address.

Pro Tip: Many insurance agents are not able to run your driving record until they submit your policy. It is best to be forthcoming with any violations or accidents any driver has received in the past three years for minor violations and five years for major violations.

Pro Tip 2: Do not hide the fact your title is a revived salvage title. Hiding information from the insurance carrier is never a good idea. The only person to lose out is you. If you purchase physical damage coverage and get into a total loss accident, then the claims adjuster sees your title is revived and they did not know about it, you could potentially not be covered even though you have been paying for the coverage.

Liability only coverage should not be a problem to obtain, it is physical damage coverage that will make a car insurance carrier wary.