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Joanna Johnson

Car Insurance Expert
Updated: 7/2019

Joanna is an expert on understanding how the different laws and regulations in the car insurance industry shape the way that policies work.

The exact definition of what a rebuilt title is and what it entails will differ between states. Each law has their own specific regulations regarding rebuilt vehicles and titles. In general, a rebuilt title is one that is placed on a vehicle that has been reconstructed or rebuilt. This vehicle is usually one that was previously in a wreck or has been salvaged and has now been repaired and restored to be operational. These rebuilt vehicles are fixed using refurbished car parts during the reconstruction.

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Background

In most states, a vehicle that was once salvaged and has been rebuilt will need to go through a state inspection before it can legally return to the roadways. Usually, cars become salvaged after insurance companies declare them to be a total loss following an auto accident. Once this occurs, it may be sold “as is” to automotive vehicle rebuilders. The rebuilders will either use that salvaged vehicle for parts or have it restored.

Most salvaged vehicles are not legally able to be driven on the roadways or able to get a valid license plate issued for them. Salvaged vehicles need to be repaired, if possible, and then be rebuilt in order to be a roadworthy, legal vehicle.

Guidelines For Rebuilt Vehicles

When vehicles are restored, most states require them to be inspected first before they are able to be driven again. After passing an inspection, the owners of these vehicles can get a “rebuilt title” from their local Department of Motor Vehicles. This specific title allows the vehicle to be legally driven on the roadways. The guidelines for obtaining a rebuilt title varies from state to state. As an example, Florida laws require a salvaged vehicle to have a “salvage title” obtained if the insurance company has declared it a total loss.

Salvage titles will indicate whether or not the vehicle in question is able to be rebuilt. Obtaining a rebuilt title will determine if it can be rebuilt or not. When a title is given a “not rebuildable” mark, it must be sold for parts only. Other states might mark a vehicle’s title with damage estimates once they reach a certain percentage of the vehicle’s total worth. For example, Louisiana and New York both designate up to 75 percent on their titles when determining the worth of salvage title vehicles.

Rules regarding salvage and rebuilt vehicles are complex. In Georgia, the Department of Revenue will note anyone who tries to purchase a wrecked or salvaged vehicle for the purpose of restoring or rebuilding it. They must be the sole rebuilder and obtain the correct licenses to do so.

In Nevada, not only salvaged vehicles need to have specific titles. Even vehicles that obtain specific repairs or have been rebuilt will need to get a rebuilt title to be legally driven. This will apply to many vehicles such as ones needing the following major components replaced to be driveable:

  • Rear clip assembly
  • Cowl assembly
  • Floor pan assembly
  • Roof assembly
  • Complete changes to the inner structure for unibody models
  • Conventional framework matched with one other additional major component

What To Consider Before Purchasing A Rebuilt Vehicle

Before considering the purchase of a rebuilt vehicle, it is essential to have it checked out by a trusted mechanic. This is to make certain it is in good enough condition to drive and be safe out on the road. Also, check with your insurance company beforehand to see if they have underwriting rules regarding insuring a rebuilt vehicle. Some insurance companies have rules that won’t allow them to offer policies on cars with rebuilt titles or that have previously been salvaged.

Most auto insurance providers don’t carry policies for rebuilt vehicles. If they do offer any policies, they might be for liability only. Most companies don’t offer comprehensive or collision coverage for rebuilt or salvaged vehicles because it is too difficult to determine these kinds of vehicle’s true value.

Before you look into purchasing a rebuilt vehicle, shop around with different insurance companies to find the best rates offered. Some companies, such as Progressive, will offer full coverage on certain vehicles with branded titles.

Insuring a Car With a Rebuilt Title

Common Requirements For Insuring Salvage Title Vehicles

It is understandable that most insurance companies are not fans of insurance salvage title vehicles. Vehicle safety is the highest priority for you and the insurance provider. Any time a vehicle is subjected to structural damage, the insurance companies get very hesitant about offering coverage for it, even once it has been rebuilt. A roadworthy and operational condition is the most essential requirement for a salvage title vehicle to possibly obtain insurance.

PLPD Insurance Coverage

Personal liability and property damage are the easiest types of insurance coverage to obtain on a vehicle that was once salvaged. Most often, insurance companies are more concerned with the physical damage a vehicle sustained during an accident. This can be anything from dents, dings and scratches to extreme smashed bumpers. Obtaining insurance for vehicles with current damage can be quite difficult. Most preferred insurance providers will not want to offer insurance for these types of vehicles.

Non-standard carriers may offer some coverage. However, they will probably require the customer to submit extensive amounts of documentation of all damage. This will save the insurance company from covering any claims involving damages the vehicle already sustained.

Increasing Coverage Amounts For Salvage Title Vehicles

After purchasing or restoring a vehicle with a salvage title, you will most likely have no trouble getting physical damage coverage on it. When it comes to adding collision or comprehensive coverage, it may be a more difficult undertaking. To increase your coverage amounts, follow some of the tips below.

Common Physical Damage Insurance Coverage Requirements To Meet:

  • Detailed mechanical inspection by mechanic approved by the insurance company
  • Current photos of all angles of a vehicle, including all current damages
  • Physical damage inspection by an insurance agent

Most insurance companies will allow customers with a rebuilt title to get physical damage coverage if they meet the preceding requirements. It is important to remember to take the value of a vehicle into consideration before any physical damage or changes are done. The insurance might not be worth it if the overall value of your vehicle is too low.

In some circumstances, it is possible to come out ahead of the game with a rebuilt vehicle purchase. Keep in mind what you are up against before comparing different policies and insurance companies. It is best to proceed with caution when it comes to any vehicle with a salvage or rebuilt title linked to it. Aside from the difficulties of obtaining insurance coverage, trying to resell a vehicle with a rebuilt title can prove rather hard as well.

FAQ

Each year in the United States there are over six million car accidents, translating to a lot of vehicles with both salvage and rebuilt titles. To get one of these cars back on the road, you’ll need approval from the DMV and the minimum insurance coverage. That’s where it gets tricky. Many car owners struggle when it comes to finding an insurance carrier that will cover a car with a rebuilt title. Some companies might only offer liability coverage, and some might not offer any insurance options at all. To abide by state laws, drivers need auto insurance, but how do they find it? We have compiled a list of questions that cover the ins and outs of finding coverage, financing rebuilt titles, and buying vehicles with rebuilt titles.

Rebuilt Titles – What Are They?

After you get into an accident, you might feel completely out of luck. Your stuck with a lemon and out thousands of dollars. Fortunately, sometimes you can repair a salvage vehicle. Not only can you recoup some of the vehicle’s value, but you can also start driving it again. To become street legal, the vehicle must pass a DMV inspection and be issued a “rebuilt” or “reconstructed” title. The below questions help explain what rebuilt titles are:

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What does rebuilt title mean?

This title means that a car once had severe damage but was fully refurbished. If a car has a rebuilt title, it doesn’t mean it’s 100% restored. There can still be damage.

Is a rebuilt title bad?

No, a rebuilt title is not a bad thing. In fact, a rebuilt title is much better than a salvage. However, keep in mind that resale values aren’t as high when a car doesn’t have a clean title.

What does a rebuilt title look like?

A rebuilt title looks very similar to a clean one, but it will read “rebuilt” under the vehicle history. Remember that the exact layout of the title depends on the state issuing it.  

Does a rebuilt title void factory warranty?

Yes, a rebuilt title does void factory warranty because it was previously a salvage. This is the case with any manufacturer warranty. Some aftermarket warranties might still be valid, depending on the terms.

How to spot a rebuilt title?

You should run a CarFax report so you can see the vehicle’s entire history. This is the best way to know what type of title the vehicle has and the number of accidents it has been involved in. 

Can you drive uber with rebuilt title?

No, according to Uber’s requirements, your car cannot have a salvage, reconstructed, or rebuilt title. Uber will run an AutoCheck on your car using the VIN number to confirm the title.  

What is a rebuilt car title?

A rebuilt car title means that the vehicle previously had a salvage title. To be considered “rebuilt,” the car needs significant repairs to put it back in operating condition.

Does AutoCheck show rebuilt titles?

Yes, AutoCheck does show rebuilt titles. The website makes discovering the vehicle’s history completely transparent. Any “branded” title will show up on reports, such as salvage, flood, and rebuilt.

Finding Insurance Coverage

Insuring a vehicle with a rebuilt title isn’t a walk in the park. In fact, many insurance companies will throw your application out the door. The reason that many carriers don’t like taking on rebuilt cars is because it’s too much of a liability to them. Repaired vehicles might be more likely to run into mechanical issues, cause accidents, and so on. Only a few big insurance companies offer some sort of comprehensive coverage to rebuilt car owners. On the other hand, quite a few offer general liability policies to meet the minimum coverage requirements that states mandates. The below questions will give you more of an in-depth look at finding insurance coverage.

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Can you get full coverage on a rebuilt title?

Yes, but it’s not always easy. Each insurance carrier sets their own policies in regard to rebuilt titles. Since it’s not easy to determine the value of the vehicle, many insurers just offer the bare minimum. Look for cheap car insurance with no down payment.

Does a rebuilt title affect insurance?

Yes, a rebuilt title does affect insurance eligibility. Many insurers won’t fully cover a vehicle with a rebuilt title. Instead, they will offer liability insurance which meets state requirements.

What insurance companies cover rebuilt titles?

Large insurance companies like GEICO, State Farm, and Progressive are more likely to cover rebuilt titles. These carriers can afford to take on more risk because of the volume of insureds they have.

Who will insure a rebuilt title?

Larger insurance comes like Geico, Esurance, and 21st Century may insure cars with rebuilt titles. The best way to know for sure is to call them directly or get a quote on their websites.

Does a rebuilt title increase insurance?

No, a rebuilt title doesn’t necessarily increase your insurance premium. In fact, sometimes you pay less because you only have a liability policy (in place of full coverage).

Will Geico insure a rebuilt title car?

Yes, Geico is one of the few insurance companies that will insure a car with a rebuilt title. Since it does vary by state, it’s best to call Geico to know for sure.

What insurance companies will insure a rebuilt title?

Insurance companies like Nationwide, Geico, Allstate, and Farmers sell liability policies (at the minimum) for rebuilt titles. The large majority of them will not provide full coverage.

Does Allstate cover rebuilt titles?

Yes, but they generally don’t offer full coverage. Allstate would likely just offer a “liability only” policy that means you’re covered if you damage someone else’s property in a car accident.

Is it hard to insure a rebuilt title?

Yes, insuring a rebuilt title is one of the most difficult components of ownership. Many insurance carriers will not extend coverage to vehicles that once had a salvage title.

Who insures RVs with rebuilt titles?

Companies like Nationwide, Progressive, and Esurance offer basic liability coverage for RVs with rebuilt titles. Not many companies offer full coverage because there’s too much of a risk for the carrier.

Does Progressive insure rebuilt titles?

Yes, Progressive does offer liability coverage for vehicles with rebuilt titles. Depending on your location, Progressive might also offer comprehensive coverage that excludes vandalism, theft, fire damage, and collision protection.

Does State Farm insure rebuilt titles?

Yes, State Farm does insure rebuilt titles in the form of liability coverage. If the car passes their routine inspection, the company may also offer comprehensive and collision coverage.

Determining a Rebuilt Vehicle’s Value

When a car has any other title but “clean,” its price tag takes a big hit. This can be advantageous for shoppers who have a tight budget. However, if you’re selling your own vehicle, don’t expect to get anything near what you paid for it. Fortunately, there are a number of valuation websites to help you pinpoint a vehicle’s price. Keep reading to learn more.

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How much does a rebuilt title devalue a car?

A rebuilt title can lower a car’s Kelly Blue Book value by 20 to 40%. However, the older the car is, the more of a hit the value will take.

How much does rebuilt title affect value?

Similar to a completely salvaged vehicle, a rebuilt title can cut a car’s value in half. However, this depends on a number of factors – the extent of the original damage, the car’s age, and the type of car.

What is the difference between rebuilt and salvage title?

A salvage title means that a vehicle was either deemed a total loss or had damage that exceeded the value of the vehicle. When a salvaged is repaired, it then gets a rebuilt title.

What does rebuilt reconstructed title mean?

Both rebuilt and reconstructed mean essentially the same thing. These titles are given to vehicles that once had a salvage title but were later repaired. The verbiage merely depends on the state.

Buying and Selling a Car with a Rebuilt Title

Choosing to buy a vehicle with a rebuilt title can come with generous savings. With that said, there are always some risks. Finding a car with a rebuilt title is as easy as a quick search online or a visit to a dealership. The same goes for selling your own repaired vehicle. These questions cover all you need to know about buying and selling a car with a rebuilt title:

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Should I buy a car with a rebuilt title?

Yes, although it depends on a few factors. You should have a mechanic thoroughly inspect the vehicle to make sure there are no underlying problems. In addition, see if there is any room for negotiation.

How to get a rebuilt title?

To get a rebuilt title, you’ll need have the DMV inspect your vehicle. If the car passes inspection, the next step is to fill out the paperwork for the new title and pay the fees.

Does CarMax take rebuilt titles?

Yes, CarMax does take rebuilt titles, but they will offer well below the Kelly Blue Book value for it. You can expect anywhere between $250 and $1,000, depending on the car.

Can you trade in a rebuilt title car?

Yes, you can trade in a car with a rebuilt title to a dealer or private seller. With that said, you won’t get anywhere close to what you would get with a clean title.

How to value a car with a rebuilt title?

The best way to value a car with a rebuilt title is to use Kelly Blue Book. Once you get a Blue Book Value, you can see how much dealerships near you would pay for the vehicle.

How much should I pay for a rebuilt title car?

As a general rule-of-thumb, you should pay between 60 to 80% of the car’s value with a rebuilt title. When it comes to making an offer, you should evaluate each vehicle on an individual basis.

Can you register a car with a rebuilt title?

Yes, you can (and must) register a car with a rebuilt title. You have to give up the existing title to the DMV should you apply for and be granted a rebuilt one.

Can you get a warranty on a rebuilt title?

Yes, you can get a warranty on a rebuilt title. Most manufacturer warranties are deemed void once a vehicle gets a salvage title. The only option becomes aftermarket warranties.

Do dealerships take rebuilt title cars?

Yes, some dealerships do buy cars with rebuilt titles. There’s a better chance the dealer will buy it if you plan to purchase another vehicle with them. However, some car companies will not buy rebuilt vehicles as they pose a liability.

Where to buy rebuilt title cars?

There are many places you can find rebuilt cars – on Craigslist, at local dealerships, and at auto auctions. You’ll also find a lot of cars with salvage tiles that you could later rebuild.

Can you get an extended warranty on a rebuilt title?

No, you generally cannot extend a warranty on a rebuilt title (especially a factory one). Certain aftermarket warranties do extend to rebuilt titles, if the title doesn’t fall under one of their pre-existing conditions category.

Rebuilt Titles vs. Salvage Titles

Many people often confuse rebuilt and salvage titles. It’s important to note that they are completely different. In most U.S. states, vehicles with salvage titles are not street legal. The owner must repair the vehicle, have it inspected, and then receive a rebuilt title before they can drive it again. In addition, most insurance companies won’t even touch a vehicle with a salvage title. If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, don’t make the amateur mistake of confusing these two titles.

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What is a rebuilt salvage title?

A rebuilt salvage title means that a vehicle suffered extensive damage but was later repaired and passed inspection by the DMV. This means the car is operable and safe to drive.

What is better salvage or rebuilt title?

A rebuilt title is better by far. In most places, you can’t even drive a salvage title vehicle on the road or insure it. Cars with a rebuilt title are street legal and much safer to operate.

What causes a car to have a rebuilt title?

When a car has a rebuilt title, it means it previously had a salvage title, meaning the car had extensive damage. A rebuilt title means the vehicle has passed inspection and is safe to drive

Financing a Vehicle With a Rebuilt Title

If you can’t buy a car with cash up front, you’re not out of luck. Non-traditional loan lenders offer financing options for rebuilt vehicles, depending on your credit score and the car’s value. When it comes to banks and credit unions, there aren’t many options available. Some buyers opt for a personal loan instead of taking out a standard auto loan. If you plan on financing a vehicle with a rebuilt title, take a look at the below questions:

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How much discount for rebuilt title?

You can generally expect a discount ranging from 40 to 60% for a car with a rebuilt title. If it’s an older vehicle, you can likely haggle down the price a bit more.

Can you get a loan on a rebuilt title?

Yes, however, traditional lending institutions will generally not give a loan for a car with a rebuilt title. You’ll have to resort to more specialized lenders, such as loan marketplaces.

Will a bank loan on a rebuilt title?

No, banks generally don’t offer loans for vehicles with rebuilt titles. Depending on your credit score, you might be able to take out a personal loan in place of a traditional auto loan.

How to get a loan on a rebuilt title car?

Instead of taking out a conventional auto loan, consider getting a personal loan. Banks, credit unions, and online lenders all offer secured and unsecured personal loans that fall within the limits of salvage vehicle prices.

Will USAA finance a rebuilt title?

Yes, but only when an underwriter approves it as an exception. According to their website, they may be able to offer financing on vehicles with salvage or rebuilt titles. 

How to buy rebuilt title car?

You can find rebuilt title cars on sites like Craigslist, Cars.com, and Autotrader. If you do end up buying a vehicle, the previous owner (or the dealer) will need to transfer the title to you.