Hey! I’m Stuart, I’m a licensed insurance agent, back again as part of our partnership with The Autopian. In our conversations with the Autopian crew, it sounds like another question that comes up from time to time is around insuring vehicles with rebuilt titles. I’m here to take my best shot at answering some of the questions!
[Ed note: This is a “partner post,” wherein we have a sponsor of the site post about what they do. Instead of the usual branded content that tries to hide what it is, we want to be straightforward and clear. Marble is a great partner and has some interesting posts planned that should answer any questions you have about the world of car insurance. Please ask questions in the comments if you have them and sign up for Marble, which is a useful tool that allows you to track your policies and rewards you for doing so. Plus, Marble helps support the site. – MH]
First things first, it may be helpful for some readers to define what exactly a rebuilt title is. A rebuilt title is assigned after a previously “totalled” vehicle (i.e. a car that required repairs that cost >70-90% of the car’s total value) has been repaired and, in most states, passed state inspections. Every year about 1.5 million vehicles are repaired and returned to the road this way.
So great, we’re on the same page about cars with rebuilt titles now! Let’s talk about insuring them.
In short: insuring a car with a rebuilt title is very doable, but somewhat trickier than insuring a car with a “clean” title. You’re going to face a more limited selection of insurance providers who are willing to insure your vehicle, and you may (but not always) pay a bit more. I’ve broken it down into a few steps below.
First, and no surprise here, shop around for the right insurance provider:
Insurance companies are in the business of aggregating and rating risk. In the view of their risk models then, there is a higher aggregate risk associated with rebuilt title cars. As a result, not all insurance companies are willing to provide coverage for them.
However, many standard and non-standard insurers do offer rebuilt title coverage! Brands like Progressive, Allstate, National General, and Mercury are all typically willing to quote a rebuilt title. But to find the right policy, it really is crucial to compare quotes from multiple insurance providers — and you may to specifically look for a few experienced in insuring rebuilt title cars.
Make sure you have all the documentation and information:
When insuring a car with a rebuilt title, you may face more detailed requests for documentation than you are used to.
For example, you may get asked for more comprehensive records of the vehicle’s history, repairs, and any inspections it has undergone. This information allows insurance companies to assess the car’s condition, which in turn helps them determine the appropriate coverage and premiums. Make sure to try to find and organize as many relevant documents as you can, including receipts, repair records, and photographs, as evidence of the car’s restoration.
This can also be helpful as you try to add additional coverage. Some insurers will only offer liability coverage for a rebuilt title, because they can’t be sure about other preexisting or unseen physical damage. Complete documentation can help you work with an agent or insurance company to add more coverages.
Shop widely to pay less:
If you are able to add more coverage on top of liability, you may find that your total insurance cost for a rebuilt title is a bit higher than what you expect from a clean title.
Often this price is not coming from anything inherent to the vehicle or the repairs, but simply the lack of insurers willing to quote a rebuilt title at all. In other words, less competition can drive your price higher.
So really, the best thing you can do is shop as widely as possible to ensure as much competition for your business as possible. Document the repairs and roadworthiness as extensively as possible so you can assess the cost of adding non-liability coverages, and in the end, make the coverage and price choice that works best for your household.
So in conclusion, what I’m saying is: Insuring a car with a rebuilt title requires some extra effort, but it is entirely possible to find suitable coverage. Just remember the three key elements:
- Do thorough research into insurance providers experienced in insuring rebuilt title cars — and then collect quotes from a range of them
- Go as crazy as possible with comprehensive documentation, tracking as much as you can of the rebuild
- Be open to additional coverage options, working in close partnership with your agent to think creatively about what could work for your car
Otherwise, you should feel free to buy that 2011 Volvo C30 with the six-speed and a rebuilt title. If you’ve got any other questions, I’ll be in the comments for the next couple of hours.
This partner post was sponsored by Marble, the first and only all-in-one insurance management and rewards platform. Organize all your policies, earn rewards, and take control of your risk today. It’s fast, free, and helps put your insurance on autopilot. Plus, signing up helps support The Autopian.
Late to the party but wanted to say that this is a good article and a useful one.
No mention at all that if you crash the vehicle, the payout will be between 20-40% less then a clean title vehicle.
I bought a salvaged/rebuilt RAV4 that had mouse damage but was fully repaired. It was $10000 less then the same ones on Toyota lots as certified used. I know if I get in an accident the payout is less.
I know Stuart is no longer available to answer, but maybe someone else on here can answer my question: is California an outlier in terms of inspection (other than smog) and registering salvage titles? I’ve owned a few salvage title vehicles here in CA and never had any problem registering and insuring them as long as they passed smog. However, I have seen here and on other sites that in some states a salvage/rebuilt title can present some problems. Does Cali just not give a f**k as long as your vehicle can pass the emissions test?
A rebuilt car in California has to be inspected before getting the salvage title. It has light and brakes, and the Highway Patrol checks all of the VINs. The shop that does the lights and brakes will invariably find something that needs to be repaired or replaced, and you have to pay to have it reinspected after the repairs. You will have a new license plate number – why, I have no idea – maybe to keep you from selling it as non-salvage with the original pink slip.
Insurance, at least liability coverage, is the same as for a car with a clean title.
Stuart, always read your articles, learning something new about how insurance works is a good thing. Never had a rebuilt title but considering car prices these days, it’s worth considering for an occasional use vehicle (for me that’d be a truck).
Maybe I was lucky, or maybe it’s because I don’t buy collision, just liability and comp. I can see where having to determine the car’s value would impact collision. If you’re buying a branded title, you probably don’t need to finance it, so don’t need collision. I just called my (State Farm) agent and said I had a different car, they took the info and presto chango it was done. (I didn’t mention the title, but I think they look that up online anyhow.) A few years later, comp covered repairs that cost close to what I paid for the car without a quibble, after it (yeah, a Kia) got stolen and recovered.
Same here, I don’t have a rebuilt title car, but my son has had a couple, insuring them has been no big deal. Maybe it is harder in other states.
I’d like to know if you can over insure a car and have it stick?
For example: I have a 2011 Ford Ranger that I want to insure at a value of $55,000 so if it was in an accident it wouldn’t get totalled because of $2,000 worth of damage.
I think they covered this in the article on modified vehicle insurance. What you’d be looking for is “agreed-upon value” insurance. I think Hagerty does stuff like that for older vehicles, for example.
Of course, if you’re trying to value a 2011 Ranger at $55,000…I imagine the resulting rates might reflect that, if anyone’s willing to do that at all ????
Some insurance companies have what’s called “agreed upon value” plans. i.e. you and the insurance company agree on the fair value of the vehicle. This is pretty common for collector car insurance & the insurance companies that specialize in providing insurance for collector cars, like Hagerty as an example.
Came looking for Tatra content…☹️
I have no problems at all buying cars with a salvage title, I find that comprehensive insurance is a waste of money since I usually buy a beater , drive it for five so years and end up giving cars away to friends, because selling them is too much hassle.
Also, in Brooklyn, traffic, the old adage about don’t pull in front of somebody driving a car that looks and it’s like it’s already been in an accident works both ways.
I had a Subaru that I think I actually got more money than I paid for it from UPS drivers sideswiping it when it was double parked.
On the other hand Hagerty is great for the 1970 Porsche.
im beginning to wonder if the whole branded title insurance thing is a myth. Because I know for a fact Geico, Allstate, and Progressive all insure branded title cars with no issues.
In Texas its as simple as getting insurance on any car.
Here in Quebec, be ready to have the car seen by an insurance company representative. I believe it would be just a visual inspection, not a mechanic.
Any gap in insurance on a vehicle may lead to this here.
I have 8 cars and all of them except one, are under one policy (AAA), the other one is more of a classic and its with Hagerty. What I can do to save money? Of course I dont drive them all the time, the only movements I do is to put the Winter car in “storage” mode with my insurance during the summer time. But its not that easy, you have to call somebody and waste an hour of your day to save a few bucks. Thanks
Well our goal at Marble is to make that “hour of your day” disappear. It’s not turnkey though (getting carriers to provide fully digital quotes with minimal additional friction is like pulling teeth) but we’re making progress! So check us out!
But otherwise, I do think that pay-per-mile policies can make a lot of sense to look at. You’ll want to mindful of the coverages and additional benefits from pay-per-mile — you want to be sure you’re not sacrificing coverage — but if there are some cars you find yourself driving very rarely, it could make sense to stash them on a per-mile policy!
Hi Stuart. Can you keep two cars with your existing carrier and insure a third car (rebuilt title) with a different carrier that insures cars with branded titles? Thanks!
Yes Jimmy, great question! That should be fine! There’s no obligation to insure all your vehicles on one policy or with one carrier. You can always mix and match to find the best value price and coverage.
That’s good news. Thanks!
I don’t think I’d buy any car with a branded title. There’s always another one, in the next town over, with a perfectly clean title, so just buy that one.
If it’s a good deal…….
Collision or flood damage, I’d agree, too many potential surprises. But I bought one that was totalled for hail damage, so what you see is what you get. Only issue was the OEM warranty was void. But I paid half of book, so I was happy. 8 years later, I’m still happy. Gonna drive it until the wheels fall off, or they won’t let me on the road anymore, so don’t care about resale value.
I can see hail damage as an exception.
Hi everyone! Me again! Happy to be here!
Here’s something that would make me switch to your company right now:
Here’s what I am after; I currently own…7 cars. Wait. 8. However, some of them don’t run, but some run but I only run them in certain seasons, or certain years.
I would like to pay to insure ALL of them, but have a simple app on my phone with some toggles, that swap from “I AM CURRENTLY DRIVING THIS THING AROUND” to “IT WILL BE IN STORAGE FOR A FEW MONTHS”
Maybe it would limit how often you could flip the toggles back and forth, but man, if some insurance company offered something like this, I would drop my current carrier in a heart beat, as switching things around always requires a phone convo.
Furthermore, I don’t get why I have to pay so much. I can only drive one car at time, so if I insure 2 cars, yes, the risk of a total loss is higher, HOWEVER, the risk of an accident happening to both is infinitely lower; I don’t get why stacking multiple cars costs so much.
Example: Let’s say I insure my 911 for $100 a month, and I insure my beater honda for $30 a month. IMHO the monthly premium, for both vehicles and ONE drive, should be like…. $105/month. Why? Because if I am driving them 50/50, really the monthly premium should be somewhere in the middle, like $70/month, but since there’s some weird chance that a tornado could come through and trash BOTH CARS, it makes sense it should cost more than insuring just the 911.
I wish there was an insurance solution for gearheads with multiple cars, that focused on a single driver, not insuring everything like I have 5 kids and all the cars driving around at once.
You raise many excellent questions and Stuart should have fun answering them. 😀
Do you ever loan your cars to someone? There’s part of an answer as to why it’s not quite as simple as might seem at first blush.
Nope, never. No kids. Just me and my girlfriend, and she has her own car. If ONE insurance company would do this, they would get ALL the gearheads. You’d have to make sure it wasn’t abused by families with 4 kids, but it could be profitable for them while saving money for us.
It was a rhetorical question. Insurance companies have to account for situations that won’t apply to everyone, but do apply to most.
Also, no matter how much you swear your 17YO isn’t going to ever drive your Porsche, he’s totally gonna steal it when you’re on vacation and it’s probably to end up in Lake Michigan. But at least he might get to nail some chick named Rebecca on a train or something, so sometimes you just have to say What the Fuck.
Your hypothetical scenario started to get really specific toward the end there.
My “Rebecca” was named Katie.
His hypothetical scenario is a movie called: Risky Business.
Let’s be honest, only DT didn’t get the reference.
I think the problem is the number of families who would abuse this far exceeds the number of gearheads with enough cars to make it worthwhile.
Put trackers in the cars, so not more than one of them can be moving at a time. Or check to make sure they don’t have kids.
I kinda allready do that. I have three drivers besides my show car ( HAGERTY). The three are 01 Silverado ( main driver ) 03 Excursion ( hauler) 9 Burban ( backup whatever ). I only keep one policy ( commercial) and it’s mainly on my Silverado, but when I need to haul out of state the excursion gets used…I just call and swap my policy to it and roll out…been doing that for years..
Who do you use? HEY STUART I AM SHOPPING FOR A SOLUTION HERE.
Not a bad idea! Benefit there is the commercial policy that kinda sits over a group of vehicles.
How do you keep your registration active without insurance. In my state, if you do not have active insurance then you have to turn your plates in.
Hey hey, sorry for the delay, there was a lot here!
I guess to clarify one thing first: We’re not an insurance carrier. So while I’d love for you to use Marble, we’re not actually the ones creating insurance policies. We’re making it easier to get a good price/earn some rewards/use some modern tech.
Tbh, you raise some good points. I think the answer lies a lot in how insurance is still really slow to adopt new technology. You should be able to toggle between different cars that you’re driving at a time (and some pay-per-mile providers like Mile Auto or Clearcover may be close to what you’re describing).
Also to your point about what you pay per car: That actually depends on the insurance carrier. Some carriers rate each car individually and some blend the rate across all your vehicles.
I’m basically in the same predicament. Lots of cars, only one driver. However, I loaned a Subaru wagon to a co-worker so they could move, and they wound up plowing into a parked car because they fell asleep at the wheel because they spent the night moving!
If your other cars were not occupied or moving at the time, I’m not sure I see the problem.