What Exactly Is a Salvage Vehicle?
A car that is labeled as a “total loss salvage vehicle” is one that has been wrecked/destroyed/damaged so severely that its owner or the insurance company decides it is not economical to repair. If this is the case, a Salvage Certificate is issued to the owner and becomes the ownership document. The certificate will either be issued to the individual whose name is on record with the DMV as the registered owner or to the driver’s insurance company.
A vehicle is considered a nonrepairable vehicle when it has no resale value other than as a source of parts/scrap metal, and meets one of the following requirements:
- It is declared by the owner to be solely a source of parts/scrap metal.
- It was completely stripped (surgical strip) when it was recovered from theft.
- It is completely burned and has no usable/repairable parts.
Nonrepairable vehicles receive Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificates as ownership documents. As soon as this is issued, the vehicle is unable to be reregistered for use or titled.
Will the Insurance Company Need to Report a Total Loss or Nonrepairable Vehicle?
Yes, an insurance company that ultimately takes possession of a vehicle that is deemed as a total loss salvage or a nonrepairable vehicle is required to report this and must get either a Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate within 10 days from the date of the settlement.
How Do I Get a Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate?
In order to get a Salvage Certificate or a Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate, you will need to have a few things:
- A completed/signed Application for Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate (REG 488C)
- The Certificate of Title from California or another state, as proof of ownership
- A completed and endorsed Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227) is allowed to be used as proof of ownership if the California Certificate of Title is lost. If a title from out-of-state is lost, a duplicate title will need to be obtained from the state that issued the title.
- If you are unable to supply proof of ownership and the vehicle has a value of $5,000 or higher, a motor vehicle bond, Motor Vehicle Ownership Surety Bond (REG 5057), or Vehicle, Vessel or Off-Highway Vehicle Title Deposit Agreement and Assignment (REG 5059), or a bond alternative for the vehicle value as well as proof of diligent effort are required.
What If I Need a New Salvage or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate?
If you lost your certificate, or it was stolen or mutilated, you can apply for a duplicate. You will need to submit the following:
- An Application for Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate (REG 488C)
- A Statement of Facts (REG 256). This form must describe the vehicle in addition to the reason that you are applying for a duplicate certificate.
- The fee for a duplicate Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate