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Salvage Titles in Massachusetts

Massachusetts salvage title cars are vehicles that have suffered extensive damage. A salvage title is applied for after a professional assessment of the costs involved in repairing the vehicle and the company insuring the vehicle determines that they would cost more to repair than to replace. The company then declares the car a total loss.

A salvage or damaged car title may apply to vehicles that have been damaged in a variety of circumstances. Although most motorists associate a wrecked car title with vehicles ruined by collision damage, salvage vehicles are just as likely to have been damaged by elemental factors such as fire or water. This may happen directly or indirectly. For example, a vehicle damaged by fire may have caught fire itself or been damaged by a fire in a garage where it was being stored. Elemental damage assessments can also be relatively specific. Vehicles damaged by fresh water are classified differently than those damaged by salt water, for instance.

Occasionally, salvage cars may receive their designations as a result of being lost rather than taking specific damage. A common example of this is vehicles that are stolen and never recovered. Vehicles that are stolen and eventually recovered with damage (minor or severe) can also be deemed salvage.In all cases, the primary deciding factor in assigning a vehicle a salvage titledesignation is the determination that it cannot be fixed or that a fix is possible but is too expensive to be worthwhile for the insurance company.

The owner of a smashed car that has been deemed salvage by his or her insurance company is required to seek a salvage title from the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). It is not the responsibility of the insurer to pursue salvage title documentation.However, all owners should be aware that auto salvage titles are irreversible. Although vehicles can potentially be rebuilt, retitled and put back into use, once a vehicle has been declared salvage it will always have to be registered as a salvage vehicle.

Massachusetts Salvage Title Requirements, Exemptions and Brands

Not every totaled car in Massachusetts will be subject to standard salvage laws. For example, most vehicles owned by the United States government are exempt. Exemptions from standard salvage title procedures also apply to farm equipment, non-motorized and animal-powered vehicles, trailers, manufactured homes and passenger cars that are more than 10 years old at the time of their salvage designation. Some specialty vehicles are exempt, as well.

Smashed cars not exempt from Massachusetts salvage laws are assigned two brands when they are issued a salvage title. “What is a salvage title brand?” is usually the first question vehicle owners ask when they reach that step of the process. Salvage title cars brands are labels that inform potential future buyers about the type of damage that led to a vehicle being designated as salvage. Brands assigned as salvage will follow salvage vehicles for the remainder of their functional lives, regardless of any other changes, circumstances or conditions.

The first type of brand a totaled carreceives dictates whether the vehicle may be rebuilt or if it is suitable only for parts salvage. In these cases, the vehicle will be issued a rebuilt title. The vehicle’s insurer makes this determination when the damage is professionally assessed. The second brand assigned to a vehicle indicates the source or cause of the damage that led to a vehicle receiving a salvage title. Secondary brands include collision, fire, flood and theft, among other causes. Secondary brands are intended to help potential future owners understand the full range of ramifications and consequences the vehicle may be subject to as a result of the damage it suffered.

Massachusetts Salvage Title Applications

Owners of salvage cars in Massachusetts have a limited period of time after their vehicles experience massive damage and their insurance companies declare them a loss to apply for a salvage title. Wrecked car titles must be applied for by mail. The RMV will not accept applications in another form. Owners need to acquire and fill out the appropriate salvage tile request form from the RMV. The application must list the reasons why the assessing insurance company deemed the vehicle salvage. Vehicle owners must then mail the application and a check or money order for the appropriate amount to the RMV. Applicants should never send cash through the mail.They can then generally expect to receive their salvage titles by mail in less than two weeks. 

Additional Salvage Title Car Considerations and Options

Often, totaled cars that have been assigned salvage titles are taken possession of by insurance companies after the owners’ claims have been paid. The insurance company will then take responsibility for selling or otherwise disposing of the vehicle. However, in some cases, owners may be allowed to retain possession of their vehicles. These owners, and others who have purchased or come into possession of salvage cars, may have the option to return their damaged vehicles to the road.

Extensive rules apply to the rebuilding and reconstruction of salvage title vehicles, particularly in regards to structural and safety features. These rules are necessary to ensure the safety of auto salvage owners and other motorists. Only vehicles initially designated by insurance companies at the time of salvage as repairable are eligible to be returned to the road. Owners must have their restored vehicles inspected by the RMV at designated salvage stations. They will be required to provide thorough documentation of their rebuilding efforts at that time. In the event that owners’ rebuilt vehicles meet all Massachusetts RMV standards, a rebuilt title will be issued for the vehicle.

Salvage cars will never truly shed their salvage designations or the initial brands that come with them. However, many may potentially be returned to legal service. By contrast, owners who wish to “junk” salvage title cars must hand over their salvage titles to the RMV. Their vehicles will then be permanently removed from circulation and may not, under any circumstances, be legally driven on the road again.

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