How to Get Rebuilt Title Insurance

You can get auto insurance for a car with a rebuilt title. But special rules apply and premiums can cost you more. Find out how a rebuilt title affects insurance and which companies cover them.
Cars being rebuilt in shop

Did you buy a salvage car, fix it up, pass inspections, and acquire a rebuilt title? Are you looking to buy a used car? If so, you might need to buy rebuilt title insurance coverage. Depending on your car’s claim history and current condition, rebuilt title insurance could get pricey. Not only that, but insurers often won’t offer full coverage.

It can be hard to fully insure rebuilt title cars because there are lots of unknowns. Providers don’t know how badly damaged or how safe the car is.

This article will tell you about rebuilt cars and other title brands. It’ll also teach you how to buy insurance for a rebuilt car. This includes:

  • What types of insurance are available for rebuilt cars
  • How much it can cost
  • Who sells insurance for rebuilt cars

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Rebuilt Titles vs. Salvage Titles

There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between rebuilt and salvage titles. They’re similar because they both involve totaled vehicles. Below is a quick definition of each type of title and how they differ:

What are Rebuilt Titles?

A rebuilt title means that a vehicle branded “rebuilt” was once declared a total loss. A car totaled by its insurance company receives a salvage title and cannot be driven. To achieve rebuilt status, the car must meet safety requirements and pass an inspection. Once a car is repaired and declared roadworthy, it receives a rebuilt title brand from the state.

Some states have different requirements for a car to be drivable and get a rebuilt title. States may require an inspection, while others could only require it to go through a checklist, such as in Washington state. Be sure to check with your state’s laws on totaled vehicles to know if you can sufficiently repair your vehicle to obtain a rebuilt title.

Here are some steps that you might need to carry out to obtain a revived or rebuilt salvage title:

  • Get the car sufficient repairs to be drivable
  • File the appropriate papers with your state i.e., applications, forms, etc.
  • You need to schedule an inspection if your state requires it (check state requirements).

What are Salvage Titles?

A salvage title means that your car is a total loss, but you haven’t rebuilt or repaired it to be roadworthy. This differs from rebuilt title cars where the state deems them street legal. You can’t legally drive a car with a salvage title. Because of that, it’s impossible to insure salvage cars. Repairing your car to the point where a state will grant you a rebuilt title is the only way to drive it.

Most people only buy salvage cars because they intend to restore them and get a rebuilt title. This is something to consider if you’re looking to buy a salvage car. Be aware that some sellers may try to hide the fact that a car has a salvage or rebuilt title. Use caution when buying a used car to avoid this.

What are Branded Titles?

You might see the term “branded title” when you read about rebuilt or salvage titles. Branded titles reflect the type of damage that your car has sustained during its lifespan. They’re more of a category than a type of title. Title brands can affect what types of insurance your vehicle qualifies for. Examples of title brands you may see on a car title:

  • Rebuilt title
  • Salvage title
  • Water damage title
  • Hail damage title
  • Lemon title
  • Odometer rollback title

Title brands may vary from state to state. It’s best to check with your state’s Department of Licensing to know what title brands they use.

Can You Insure a Rebuilt Title Car?

Yes, but it can be a difficult task to buy insurance for a car with a rebuilt title. Many insurance providers shy away from offering coverage options to their owners. This is because they’re unsure of how bad the damages were and because of the rebuilt salvage car being a potential safety risk.

These risks can cause insurers to not offer insurance in some cases. For example, PEMCO doesn’t offer collision and comprehensive coverage for drivers with a rebuilt title. This means that getting full coverage for your car can be tough or even impossible. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get any type of coverage.

While it can be challenging to get coverage for a rebuilt title car, there are still ways to get the insurance you need to hit the road. You should be able to at least buy basic liability insurance for your rebuild. This is the minimum amount of coverage that most states require for you to drive. This type of insurance kicks in when you’re at-fault in an accident. It protects you from:

  • Property damage e.g., light posts, trees, buildings, etc.
  • Bodily injury e.g., medical bills, funeral costs, long-term care, etc.

The problem with having a rebuilt title car is that you likely won’t be able to get full coverage. This includes collision and comprehensive insurance. These coverage protect you from:

  • Natural disasters
  • Theft and vandalism
  • Hitting an animal
  • Collisions where you’re not at-fault

Rebuilt Title Insurance Coverage

Liability insurance is usually the only type of coverage you can get if you own a car with rebuilt title. But it won’t cost the same as it does if your vehicle had a clean title. In general, expect to pay more for your insurance with a rebuilt title car. Now we’ll look at how much rebuilt title insurance costs and which companies offer it.

How Much Does Rebuilt Title Insurance Cost?

Even though you will likely pay more for insurance with a rebuilt title, there are still factors that affect your rates. Here are some of the factors that providers consider:

All of these will have some sort of impact on your coverage costs. But that last rate factor in the list, claims history, will definitely impact your rates. That’s because a rebuilt title was once a salvage car. As we mentioned above, this means the car was totaled. And that means someone probably filed a big claim after an accident. Think of this from the insurer’s angle. Fool me once shame on you…

Insurance companies also have misgivings regarding a rebuilt car’s safety and mechanical concerns. But in the end, you’ll most likely get coverage if the vehicle passes safety tests and the state deems it as “road worthy.” But your rates will be higher than someone with the exact same car.

It’s hard to say exactly how much more you’ll pay to insure your rebuilt title car. But some estimates say you’ll pay about 20% extra for coverage. Just because you have to pay more with a rebuilt title doesn’t mean you have to shell out more than you need to. It’s a smart practice to shop around and compare auto insurance quotes to find the best deal.

What Insurance Companies Cover Rebuilt Titles?

You should be able to get coverage for your rebuilt car from most insurance companies. But there are a few providers that won’t insure them at all. And many other will only offer liability coverage. But there are still plenty of great insurers that offer coverage once a vehicle is sufficiently repaired and rebuilt to their specifications. Here’s a list of the best insurance companies that cover rebuilt titles:

Note: each company has its own requirements and restrictions for rebuilt title insurance, including state availability.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Should you buy a car with a rebuilt title?

A: The short answer is that it depends. People commonly buy cars with a rebuilt title because they want to get a good deal on the car. The tough part of this is that they usually end up paying extra for insurance later on. Rebuilt title cars will cost you less initially but can present a tough task when needing to buy insurance.

Remember to be careful of cars with salvage titles as well. These are vehicles that aren’t drivable and will cost a significant amount in repairs to get them to be street legal. In addition, most of these cars must pass some sort of vehicle safety test before registration. That’s a lot more than you can say for the other cars you share the road with.

Q: Can a rebuilt title become a clean title?

A: No. Cars that have a rebuilt title can never regain their clean title status. The rebuilt title is there to alert potential buyers and insurance providers that the car was a total loss in the past. This is key because rebuilt cars can be safety risks or have other issues crop up.

The only time a title can change from one to another is when a salvage becomes rebuilt. This only happens when the owner restores a car to a roadworthy condition.

Q: What is title washing?

A: Title washing is a form of fraud that involves rebuilt and salvage titles. Owners of rebuilt or salvage cars try and move a car into a different state and register it with a clean title. This is a way that sellers try and hide their title brand. Use extreme caution if you’re buying a used car and don’t only rely on a title to know about any previous damages.

Q: Does a rebuilt title affect my car’s value?

A: Having a rebuilt title can negatively affect your car’s value. According to Kelley Blue Book, a rebuilt title can decrease your car’s value about by 20-40%. This is likely because buyers don’t want to deal with a car that was a total loss. They may also worry about potential insurance costs in the future.

Q: Does a rebuilt title affect insurance?

A: Rebuilt titles affect your insurance in several ways. First, while you’ll probably find coverage for your newly fixed-up car, it may be tough finding more than liability coverage. You can also expect to be at odds with your insurance carrier about the value of your car. It doesn’t really matter how much money you throw into it. It’s a rebuilt car with a rebuilt title. Unfortunately, that’ll never change since branding on titles is permanent.

Q: What insurance companies cover rebuilt title cars?

A: Luckily, just about every major insurance provider, including State Farm, GEICO, and Progressive, offer at least liability coverage for rebuilt title cars. Be aware that each company has its own rules and requirements before they’ll write you an insurance policy. Most of the major insurance companies only offer liability coverage for rebuilt salvage cars. A few may offer more coverage, but you’ll need to ask your agent or contact your carrier directly for more information.

Q: Can you get full coverage on a rebuilt title?

A: Probably not. Yes, it’s true that most insurance companies offer liability coverage to cars with rebuilt titles. But very few will sell full coverage auto insurance policies for cars with rebuilt titles. That’s because it’s harder for insurers to know whether damage to a car after an accident is new. The damage could be from a pre-existing crash. It’s hard to know for sure. And that’s reason enough for insurance providers to deny full coverage to cars with branded titles.

Q: Does auto insurance cost more for a rebuilt title car?

A: Most likely. Think about it in terms of the rate factors used by nearly every auto insurance company. Claims history always has been and always will be an item of keen interest to your insurer. How many accidents your car’s been in and their severity certainly influence its insurance rates.

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