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  • Salvaged Vehicles in Virginia

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    Salvage vehicles are damaged vehicles that are declared total losses by insurance companies. They may also be recovered stolen vehicles for which insurance companies have already settled claims with the owners.

    The following parties must obtain the proper ownership documentation for each salvage or non-repairable vehicle they possess:

    • Private individuals
    • Insurance companies
    • Salvage dealers
    • Rebuilders
    • Demolishers
    • Salvage pools
    • Vehicle removal operators

    Examples of ownership documentation include a salvage certificate, non-repairable certificate, or certificate of title. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) must also be notified when a vehicle is demolished or stripped of its parts.

    Non-Repairable Vehicles

    If a non-repairable certificate is issued, the vehicle may only be used for parts. It can never be titled, registered, or legally driven again in Virginia.

    If you are the owner, you can declare your vehicle non-repairable by submitting an Non-Repairable Certificate Application (Form VSA 57) to the DMV, and exchanging the title or salvage certificate for a non-repairable certificate. There is no fee to do this.

    If an insurance company declares a vehicle non-repairable, it must apply for a non-repairable certificate and submit the vehicles's salvage certificate or title within 15 days of payment of a claim. The insurer must also notify the DMV if an owner keeps a non-repairable vehicle. The DMV will then cancel the title and issue a non-repairable certificate to the owner(s).

    It is illegal to sell a non-repairable vehicle to anybody except a scrap metal processor, demolisher, salvage dealer, or vehicle removal operator.

    You cannot use a non-repairable certificate as a title to transfer ownership or to register a vehicle. Instead, use a bill of sale when transferring ownership.

    Declaring a Vehicle as Salvage

    If you own an uninsured or self-insured vehicle for which the cost to repair the damage is more than 75 percent of the actual cash value, you must submit a Salvage Certificate Application (Form VSA 56) to the DMV. Include the vehicle's title, which will be noted "Branded if Rebuilt." You must pay a $10 titling fee.

    As part of the application process, you'll need to get an estimate of the cost of repairs on insurance company letterhead or the official stationery of an independent Virginia appraiser. The estimate must include the vehicle identification number (VIN), make and year, a list of all parts that would be repaired or rebuilt, the cost and whether the parts are new or used, and the total costs for both labor and parts.

    If an insurance company takes possession of a damaged vehicle and pays the owner (or lien holder) for the value of the vehicle, the company must apply for a salvage certificate within 15 days of paying the owner or lien holder. If the owner retains the vehicle, the insurance company must let the DMV know by submitting a completed Notification of Owner-Retained Late Model and/or Water-Damaged Vehicle (Form VSA 58).

    Rebuilding Salvaged Vehicles

    Salvage vehicles may not be operated on Virginia highways and may not be registered as long as there is an active salvage certificate. However, if the vehicle is rebuilt, a salvage certificate may be reassigned to a licensed rebuilder.

    For information on titling your repaired or rebuilt salvage vehicle, visit the Virginia DMV website.

    Branded Titles

    How much damage the vehicle has will determine if the title must be branded. If so, the brand will be permanent and carried forward for each title issued in the future, for the life of the vehicle.

    If the vehicle record says the damage is 75 percent or less, the title will be branded "REPAIRED." There is no need to notify future buyers that this was a salvage vehicle.

    If the damage is more than 75 percent, up to 90 percent, the title will be branded "REBUILT." Every time the vehicle changes ownership, each new buyer must receive the title and be notified on a Rebuilt Vehicle Disclosure Statement (Form VSA 59).

    The world of salvage and rebuilt salvage vehicles is complicated, and the Virginia DMV imposes a number of regulations and processes to protect consumers from fraud and theft. If you're thinking of salvaging a vehicle you own or buying one that has been salvaged and rebuilt, you'd be wise to read all the DMV has to say about salvage, non-repairable, and rebuilt vehicles.

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