Buying a used motorcycle can be an exciting experience. You get to pick out your dream bike for a fraction of the cost of a brand new model. However, some used bikes come with a salvage title, which indicates the motorcycle has been deemed a total loss by an insurance company in the past. This naturally raises questions about insurability.
So, can you get insurance on a salvage title motorcycle? The short answer is yes, you can get insurance for a bike with a salvage title, but it may require some extra legwork. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about insuring a motorcycle with a salvage title.
What is a Salvage Title?
When an insurance company declares a vehicle a total loss after an accident, theft or natural disaster, the title is changed from a standard, clean title to a salvage title. This indicates to future buyers that the vehicle sustained significant damage at some point.
Specifically, a salvage title means repairs would cost more than the vehicle’s pre-accident value. In most states, once repairs exceed 75% of the pre-accident value, the insurer declares it a total loss. The insurance company then pays out a claim to the owner for the pre-accident value of the vehicle, minus their deductible.
At this point, the insurer takes possession of the damaged vehicle and sells it at a salvage auction. The new owner can only drive the salvaged vehicle on private property. To drive it legally on public roads again, extensive repairs are required first.
How to Insure a Motorcycle with a Salvage Title
While it is possible to get insurance for a salvage title motorcycle in most cases, there are a few extra steps involved:
Inspect and repair the bike – To make the motorcycle roadworthy again, all damage from the prior incident must be repaired. This often includes replacing bent or broken parts, repairing the frame and engine, etc.
Get a rebuilt title – After completing repairs, you’ll need to get the bike inspected by your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If it passes inspection, they can issue a rebuilt title to replace the salvage title. This certifies it’s safe to drive.
Find an insurer who will cover salvage titles – Not all companies insure motorcycles with salvage titles. Specialty insurers are more likely to provide coverage. Ask before applying.
Provide extra documentation – The insurer may request extra info like repair invoices, inspection forms and photos of the restored bike. An appraisal of the bike’s current value may also be needed.
Pay higher premiums – Due to the increased risk, expect to pay more for insurance compared to a bike with a clean title, all else being equal.
As long as you go through the proper steps to repair and certify the motorcycle, insurance should be obtainable. However, coverage may be limited.
What Insurance Coverage Can You Get?
When insuring a salvage title motorcycle, you may find limited options for physical damage coverage. This includes comprehensive and collision insurance:
Comprehensive – Covers damage from vandalism, weather, fire, theft and more.
Collision – Covers damage to your motorcycle when you collide with an object like another vehicle.
Insurers may restrict these coverage options because the motorcycle’s value is harder to determine after being previously deemed a total loss.
However, liability insurance should be issued as normal. This coverage protects you if you cause injury or property damage to others while riding your motorcycle. Required minimum liability limits vary by state but commonly include:
- Bodily injury liability – Covers injuries to others when you’re at fault
- Property damage liability – Covers damage to others’ property when you’re at fault
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist – Protects you if the at-fault driver has insufficient coverage
You may also be able to add optional coverages like:
- Accessory coverage – Protects attachments like saddlebags
- Guest passenger liability – Covers injuries to passengers
- Roadside assistance – Provides help with breakdowns, flat tires, etc.
Bottom line, liability insurance should be obtainable without issue. But shop around to find an insurer who will also cover physical damage.
Finding Motorcycle Insurance for a Salvage Title
Where should you look when it’s time to insure your salvage title motorcycle? Here are some options to consider:
Some insurance companies specialize in covering motorcycles, including those with salvage titles. They are often more lenient when providing coverage. Leading specialty insurers include:
Progressive – One of the largest motorcycle insurers in the U.S. Known to cover salvage-titled bikes.
Markel – Specializes in insuring motorcycles plus other unique vehicles like ATVs and golf carts.
Dairyland – Focuses exclusively on insuring motorcycles, even high-risk bikes.
Foremost – Part of Farmers Insurance. Insures motorcycles along with RVs, ATVs and snowmobiles.
GEICO – Major insurer with motorcycle-specific policies. May cover salvage-titled bikes case-by-case.
Beyond specialty insurers, you may have luck with large standard insurance companies as well. Some that may cover a motorcycle with a salvage title include:
- State Farm
- Liberty Mutual
However, their underwriting rules tend to be stricter. Always verify they will insure a salvage title motorcycle before applying.
High Risk Motorcycle Insurance
For applicants with poor credit or driving history, high risk motorcycle insurance provides another option. Insurers like Safeco, Sparta and Freeway specialize in covering higher risk drivers. They are often more flexible regarding salvage titles.
Agreed Value vs. Stated Value Coverage
One other option that can help when insuring a salvage title bike is agreed value or stated value coverage. With this, you and the insurer agree upfront on a set payout amount in the event of a total loss. This gives both parties certainty on the bike’s worth.
5 Mistakes to Avoid with Salvage Title Insurance
When shopping for motorcycle insurance for your salvage-titled bike, keep these common mistakes in mind:
Not confirming coverage – Don’t assume the insurer will cover a salvage title motorcycle. Always verify first.
Underinsuring the bike – Get an appraisal of the bike’s value so you pick adequate coverage limits after repairs.
Assuming it’s still a total loss – If properly restored, a salvage bike can have significant worth as a rideable motorcycle again. Insure it accordingly.
Forgetting extra fees – Remember to budget for inspection costs, title fees, etc. when evaluating insurance premiums.
Using the seller’s insurer – The seller’s insurance won’t transfer. Secure your own policy before purchasing the bike.
Is it Worth Insuring a Salvage Title Motorcycle?
Insuring a motorcycle with a salvage title comes down to a cost-benefit evaluation. Consider:
- Chance to own your dream bike for less
- Lower loan amount if financing
- Lower premiums than a comparable clean-titled bike
- Difficulty securing desired coverage types
- Higher rates than average
- More hassle if you need to file a claim
- Lower resale value down the road
Weigh the pros and cons for your situation. In many cases, you can find affordable coverage for a salvage-titled motorcycle that makes it worthwhile to buy and insure the bike.
The Bottom Line
While it takes a bit more work, you generally can get insurance for a motorcycle with a salvage title. Follow these key steps:
- Repair and restore the motorcycle properly
- Secure a rebuilt title from the DMV
- Shop around to find an insurer who will cover a salvage title
- Provide extra documentation as needed
- Consider options like agreed value coverage
With some persistence, you can likely find motorcycle insurance for your salvage title bike at a reasonable rate. Then you can hit the open road on your custom ride!
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