Salvaged Vehicles in Massachusetts

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If your car is so damaged you or your insurance company deem it a total loss, don’t worry! The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) has several salvaged car title categories for you, and one of them just might turn your total loss into a little bit of a gain.

What Is a MA Salvaged Car?

A Massachusetts salvaged car is one that is so damaged or destroyed—usually by a wreck, fire, or water—that the owner or insurance company determines it’s uneconomical to repair it. Generally, this means the cost to repair the vehicle to a safe and legal operable state outweighs the vehicle’s fair market value.

Who Keeps a Salvaged Vehicle?

Once you or your insurance company determines your car is salvaged (also known as a “total loss”), the next steps generally depend on who keeps it.

Insurance Company Keeps the Vehicle

Once your vehicle becomes so damaged you can’t safely or legally operate it, you’ll file a total loss claim with your insurance company. Each provider has its own process for handling these claims, but usually a claims adjuster will examine your car, determine how much it would cost to repair it, and weigh those costs against the vehicle’s fair market value.

If the claims adjuster and insurance company determine your car is a total loss, you and your provider will begin negotiating a total loss settlement and, if you decide to accept the full settlement:

  • You’ll sign over the car title to your insurance company.
  • Your provider will pay you damages and keep the salvaged car.
  • The company becomes responsible for applying for the appropriate salvage title.

You may be required to provide certain documents during this process, such as proof of lien satisfaction. Your insurance agent will walk you through the process.

You Keep the Vehicle

You also have the option of keeping the salvage vehicle following a total loss claim. Depending on the vehicle’s condition you might choose to junk/scrap it for parts OR obtain the appropriate salvaged title.

If you have car insurance and decide to keep your car, you’ll likely receive a partial settlement from your provider. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll be responsible for paying all related costs—this is where junking your car may be the most economically sound choice.

If you decide to apply for a salvage title and repair the car, you can eventually look into obtaining a rebuilt title and registration, allowing you to drive the vehicle once more. Talk about a total loss turnaround! 

Massachusetts Salvage Titles

The Registry of Motor Vehicles offers a few different types of Massachusetts salvage titles. It’ll be up to you to decide which is the most applicable and appropriate for your situation.

Keep in mind, regardless of the salvage title you obtain, it will carry a secondary brand, which discloses the type(s) of damages your car endured. 

MA Owner-Retained Title

You can apply for an Owner-Retained Title on your salvage vehicle IF all of the following are true:

  • Your insurance company determines the vehicle is a total loss.
  • You want to keep the vehicle. AND
  • The vehicle is safe and legal to operate with an active registration.

If you do qualify, the RMV requires you to apply within 10 days of your insurance settlement. Deliver the following items in person OR by mail to the RMV Title Division:

  • A completed Application for Registration and Title (Form RMV-1).
    • Mark the vehicle as “Owner Retained” and list the applicable secondary brands.
  • The original car title.
  • A copy of the active registration.
  • The Appraisal Report from your insurance provider.
  • Payment for the $75 fee.

Remember, your Owner-Retained Title will also have a secondary brand, which distinguishes the type of damages it’s sustained.

Be sure to contact your insurance company about any policy changes (such as whether you can have comprehensive and collision coverage) that may come as a result of obtaining this type of title.

NOTE: If your car was aged at least 10 model years when the damage occurred, you don’t need to apply for an Owner-Retained Title.

Salvage Repairable Title

You’ll apply for a Salvage Repairable Title if you chose to keep the vehicle and it’s repairable (but not currently operable).

To apply for a Salvage Repairable Title, provide the following documents and fees to the RMV:

  • The original car title.
  • A completed Application for Registration and Title (Form RMV-1).
    • Mark the vehicle as “salvage repairable” and list the applicable secondary brands.
  • The $50 titling fee.

You can submit the above items by any of the following methods:

The RMV will review your application and, if approved, mail you your Salvage Repairable Title. At that point, you can repair your vehicle, bring it in for inspection, and apply for a rebuilt title.

MA Salvage Parts-Only Title

If your total loss vehicle is damaged to the point it can’t be repaired, you can apply for a Salvage Parts Only Title. Basically, this is a way to salvage (i.e. make a few bucks) off the car’s parts that are still in working condition.

You’ll need to apply for this title within 10 days of the total loss declaration by providing the following items in person OR by mail to the RMV Title Division:

  • A completed Application for Registration and Title (Form RMV-1).
  • Proof of lien satisfaction, if applicable.
  • The original vehicle title.
  • An Appraisal Report from your insurance company.
  • The $50 fee for salvage titles.

A car with a Salvage Parts Only Title can NEVER be rebuilt or driven on Massachusetts roads again. 

Salvage Secondary Brands

The MA Registry of Motor Vehicles requires each salvaged vehicle title to have a secondary brand. If someone decides to buy your salvage vehicle, the secondary brand discloses the type of damage the car has sustained—it’s the purchaser’s right to have this information. 

Refer to the state’s section on title brands for more details.

Salvaged Car Inspections

After you’ve obtained a Salvage Repairable Title and made the necessary vehicle repairs, your vehicle must pass a salvaged car inspection before you can apply for a reconstructed title.

The salvage inspection’s purpose is to make sure you haven’t used any stolen parts and to prevent other types of fraud. The salvage inspection is NOT a safety inspection; if your vehicle no longer has a safety inspection sticker, you must bring it in for a safety inspection after it passes the salvage inspection.

BEFORE taking your vehicle in for a salvage inspection, visit your local RMV office with the:

  • Completed Application for Inspection of a Salvaged Motor Vehicle (Form T20541-1112).
  • Current MA salvage title.
  • $50 salvage inspection fee.
    • The RMV agent will give you a receipt as proof of payment for this fee—don’t lose this! You will need this receipt for your inspection.

Once that’s handled, visit your nearest salvage inspection site with the:

  • Completed Application for Inspection of a Salvaged Motor Vehicle (Form T20541-1112).
  • Current salvage title.
  • Appraisal Report from your insurance company.
  • Bills of sale, invoices, and receipts for the major component parts you used to repair the vehicle. These documents must include:
    • Names and addresses of all buyers and sellers.
    • Purchase price and date.
    • Part identification information for:
      • New parts: A description of the part.
      • Used parts: The part number, description, and the make, model, year, and vehicle identification number of the vehicle from which the part came.
    • If applicable, a copy of the car title from which a used airbag was taken.
  • Manufacturer’s label for all major parts if the vehicle is a model year 1987 or newer.
  • Inspection fee payment receipt.

At random, your vehicle will receive either a partial inspection or a full inspection, UNLESS it’s missing its vehicle identification number, in which case a full inspection will be performed. 

The inspector will look at factors such as:

  • Whether the information on your documents matches up with the actual parts.
  • Removed parts or identification numbers.
  • Parts that have been altered or destroyed.
  • The odometer reading.

If your vehicle fails, the inspector will instruct you on the necessary repairs. If it passes, congratulations! The inspector will give you a Certificate of Salvage Inspection and you’ll be on your way to apply for a reconstructed title.

Apply for a Reconstructed Car Title

To apply for a Reconstructed Title, bring the following in person to your local RMV agency:

  • A completed Application for Registration and Title (Form RMV-1).
    • If you’re also registering the car, your insurance agent must stamp the form.
  • The Salvage Repairable Title with proof of lien satisfaction, if applicable.
  • The Certificate of Salvage Inspection.
  • The car’s registration, if applicable.
  • The $75 fee for a Reconstructed Title.

Allow the MA Registry of Motor Vehicles at least 6 weeks to mail your Reconstructed Title. Once you receive the title, you can take your car out on the road! 

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