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What is a Salvage Title in New York?

Last updated on: January 22, 2024

As per the salvage vehicle law of New York State, any vehicle that has undergone substantial damage or destruction must be granted a salvage title. These titles signify that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is required to inspect the vehicle before issuing a new title certificate. Inspecting vehicles aims to prevent the utilization of stolen components and ensure customer safety. 

Consulting with a Queens car accident lawyer can provide you with insight into acquiring a salvage title. If your car was damaged by natural disasters such as hurricanes, an experienced personal injury attorney can provide you with the details you may need in order to apply for a salvage title on your vehicle.

K L Sanchez Law Office has a team of New York injury lawyers who may be able to provide the legal advice you need if you’ve been involved in a car accident in Queens.  Contact us today to schedule with a top-rated car accident lawyer.

Definition of a Salvage Title in New York

A salvage title is an official certificate issued by a state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to signify that an insurance company has declared a vehicle as a total loss or extensively damaged. The title is given to a vehicle to denote its non-roadworthy status, meaning it cannot be legally driven, registered, or sold in its current condition. Typically, a salvage title is issued when the cost of repairs to restore the vehicle to its pre-damage condition exceeds a certain percentage (usually 75% or more) of its market value. 

Once a vehicle has a salvage title, it will remain branded as such, unless it undergoes the process of rebuilding and passing a state inspection to be rebranded as a “rebuilt title.” Potential buyers should be cautious while considering purchasing a vehicle with a salvage title, as these vehicles may have hidden damage or require significant repairs to be deemed roadworthy.

Common Reasons for Obtaining a Salvage Title 

There are several situations that may lead to a vehicle receiving a salvage title. Below are some of the most common reasons: 

  • Accident damage: If a vehicle is involved in a significant collision or accident, it may be issued a salvage title.
  • Flood or water damage: Vehicles damaged due to floods or other water-related incidents can have severe electrical and mechanical issues.
  • Fire damage: Cars that have sustained severe damage from a fire may be unsafe to drive. 
  • Theft recovery: Stolen vehicles that have been recovered but have sustained significant damage or vandalism.
  • Natural disasters: Tornadoes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters can cause extensive or irreparable damage to a vehicle. 

New York also has specific requirements for salvage titles, including a mandatory salvage vehicle examination and restrictions on driving and registering salvage vehicles. It is essential to understand these requirements and the potential risks of purchasing a salvage vehicle in New York before making a purchase decision.

Common Reasons for Obtaining a Salvage Title Description
Accident Damage Significant collision or accident damage
Flood/Water Damage Severe electrical and mechanical issues due to water damage
Fire Damage Severe damage from a fire, making the vehicle unsafe to drive
Theft Recovery Recovered stolen vehicles with significant damage or vandalism
Natural Disasters Extensive or irreparable damage caused by natural disasters

Navigating insurance claims for vehicles with salvage titles can be a complex process, especially for accident victims unfamiliar with the intricacies of insurance protocols. A salvage title is typically issued to a vehicle that has been deemed a total loss by an insurance company due to extensive damage or theft recovery. Here’s a breakdown of key considerations and steps to follow in this scenario.

  • Understanding the Definition of a Salvage Title: It’s crucial to recognize that a salvage title reflects a vehicle’s history of significant damage. This designation is crucial for insurers in assessing the car’s value and risk.
  • Insurance Claim Process for Salvage Title Vehicles: When claiming insurance for a vehicle with a salvage title, the process can be more challenging than for a regular vehicle. Insurers often view these vehicles as high-risk, leading to increased scrutiny. It’s essential to provide comprehensive documentation, including repair records, to facilitate the claims process.
  • Coverage Limitations and Premiums: Insurance companies may offer limited coverage for salvage title vehicles, typically restricting policies to liability coverage. Comprehensive or collision coverage might not be available, or it could be more expensive due to the perceived increased risk.
  • Navigating After an Accident: If you’re an accident victim with a salvage title vehicle, it’s vital to report the accident immediately to your insurance company. Be prepared for a thorough inspection of the vehicle. The insurer will assess whether the car is repairable and at what cost, influencing the claim’s outcome.

These points highlight the need for experienced legal counsel to ensure your safety and efficiently navigate the process of acquiring a salvage title. Working with a skilled Queens car accident lawyer can help you expedite the process and understand the considerations involved.

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Timeframes and Deadlines

There are several deadlines that vehicle owners, insurance companies, and the New York DMV must adhere to throughout the salvage title process.

  • The insurance company must notify the DFS within ten days of determining that a vehicle is a total loss.
  • The vehicle owner must submit the Notification of Vehicle Valuation (DFS-NNR-7) form, the original title, and all other required documentation to the DMV within 90 days from the date of the total loss determination.
  • If the vehicle owner fails to submit the necessary paperwork within the allotted time, they may be subject to fines and penalties, including the suspension of their vehicle registration and driver’s license.

Obtaining a salvage title for a vehicle in New York involves several steps. Timely compliance with all deadlines is crucial for a smooth salvage title process, which ultimately ensures the safe and legal operation of the vehicle after repairs and inspection.

Applying for a Salvage Title

DMV has made a couple of changes to the process of applying for a salvage title recently. The following are the steps you can take to apply for a salvage title in NYC: 

  1. Download the Salvage Examination/Title Application PDF file (MV-83SAL) from the DMV website.
  2. Make sure to carefully review the directions and include all the requested information when completing the application. 
  3. Gather all necessary documents that must be included with the application form.
  4. Make the payment required for the examination and include it with the application and documents.
  5. Mail the completed application form, required documents, and payment to 

Auto Theft & Salvage, DFI

P.O. Box 2105

Empire State Plaza

Albany, NY 12220-0105 

  1. Wait for a letter from the DMV which will contain the following details:
  • Date and time of the examination appointment
  • Location of the examination facility
  • Directions to the examination facility

To modify or call off your upcoming examination, inform the DMV at least 48 hours before the exam date. Note that you can make only one alteration or cancellation per application for the scheduled examination. 

You will be required to pay a fee of $200 if you own a New York salvage certificate. However, if your proof of ownership is anything other than a New York salvage certificate, the fee increases to $205. To settle these fees, individuals may issue payment via check or money order, payable to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.

The Purpose of a Salvage Brand

When an automobile has been designated as a salvage vehicle, certain restrictions are placed on its owner’s ability to use and sell it. If they choose to rebuild a salvaged vehicle for road use again, they must have it inspected by the DMV prior to receiving new registration or title documentation. This inspection is mandated by New York State Auto Theft Prevention Program.

Under New York’s Salvage Certificate program, all vehicles with New York Salvage Certificates as well as most rebuilt salvage vehicles from other states must undergo an official inspection before receiving a new title. However, if a vehicle’s Salvage Certificate bears labels such as “parts only,” “non-rebuildable,” “destroyed,” or “scrapped,” then DMV won’t approve its use on the road and no new title will be issued.

Converting a Salvage Title to a Rebuilt Title in New York

When a car is significantly damaged because of an accident or natural disaster, insurance companies may label it as a total loss and issue a salvage title. For those who purchase salvage vehicles and intend to drive them, the vehicle must undergo repairs and inspections before it can be retitled as a rebuilt title. 

To convert a salvage title to a rebuilt title in New York, the vehicle must be restored to a condition that is in compliance with safety standards established by the state. The owner is responsible for ensuring that the vehicle is rebuilt and repaired using parts that meet New York’s safety standards. 

To be eligible for a rebuilt title, the vehicle must: 

  1. Retain its original vehicle identification number (VIN). 
  2. Be repaired with parts that are appropriate for the vehicle and function properly. 
  3. Pass the New York State safety inspection and emissions testing. 
  4. Ensure that the vehicle does not have any outstanding liens or financial interests against it. 

It is important to note that once a vehicle is branded with a salvage title, it will always carry that history even after it is converted to a rebuilt title.

Benefits of a Salvage Title

There are several benefits of owning a vehicle with a salvage title. While these vehicles might not be the best fit for everyone, they can provide unique opportunities and cost savings for certain individuals. Below, we will explore the main benefits of owning a salvage title, including their lower purchase price, the potential for rebuilding and reselling, and their use in parts and do-it-yourself repair projects.

Lower Purchase Price

One of the primary reasons some people consider purchasing a vehicle with a salvage title is the significantly reduced purchase price compared to a clean title vehicle. Salvage vehicles are usually priced around 50% less than their non-salvage counterparts.

The lower price can be attractive to potential buyers who either don’t mind the vehicle’s history or see it as an opportunity to save money. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that a salvage title vehicle may come with additional costs in the long run, such as repairs, increased insurance premiums, and potential lower resale value.

Potential for Rebuilding and Reselling

Another benefit of owning a salvage title vehicle is the potential for rebuilding and reselling it for profit. Skilled mechanics or those with a keen interest in automotive restoration can find salvage vehicles presenting an excellent opportunity to practice their craft while making a profit.

To rebuild a vehicle with a salvage title, the owner must repair it to a street-legal, safe condition and then have it inspected by a state or local agency. If the vehicle passes, it may be issued a rebuilt title rather than a salvage title, making it much easier to resell than a salvage vehicle. Depending on the amount of work and investment in parts required, it can be possible to turn a profit by reselling a rebuilt vehicle.

Parts and Do-It-Yourself Repair Projects

For those who love to work on their vehicles or repair and restore them as a hobby, buying a salvage title vehicle can be a great opportunity. In some cases, salvage title vehicles may have perfectly good components that can be removed and used in another vehicle or project. Using parts from a salvage vehicle can save car enthusiasts a lot of money, as it often proves to be more economical than buying new parts from a dealership or auto parts store.

It’s important to note that not all salvage title vehicles are suitable for use as parts donors. The extent of damage to a specific vehicle may render certain components unusable, and therefore, it’s crucial to carefully evaluate the condition of individual vehicles before committing to using them for parts or repair projects.

Speak to a Skilled Queens Car Accident Attorney

Obtaining insurance coverage for a salvage vehicle can prove to be a challenging task. A considerable number of insurance companies are hesitant to offer collision or comprehensive insurance for vehicles that have undergone significant damage in the past, despite undergoing repairs. This may lead to higher insurance premiums compared to those of non-salvaged vehicles. 

It is important to speak with a skilled Queens car accident lawyer if you have been involved in a car accident and are looking to obtain a salvage title. Contact the top-rated lawyers at K L Sanchez Law Office today at (646) 701 7990 to schedule a free consultation.