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Total loss and salvage vehicles

If a vehicle sustains more damage than it is worth, it is considered a total loss and becomes considered salvage.

Table of Contents

What to know

A total loss salvage motor vehicle is a motor vehicle:

  • Which has been stolen and unrecovered, or

  • Which has been wrecked, destroyed, or damaged by collision, fire, water, or other occurrence to such an extent that the owner or, if the vehicle was insured, the insurer considers uneconomical to repair.

If a vehicle has been declared a total loss the owner or the insurance company must apply for a salvage title.

A vehicle with a salvage repairable title cannot be registered until the vehicle has passed the required salvage inspection. A salvage title is permanent and a salvage vehicle can never be issued a clear title.


Exemptions to salvage

Other vehicles that are exempt from the salvage process include:

Brands on a salvage title

Each salvage title requires a primary brand and a secondary brand. A primary brand indicates to a potential buyer that he/she is buying a salvage vehicle, and it also indicates the specific reasons the vehicle is considered salvage. A secondary brand describes the type of damage or event that caused an insurance company to declare a vehicle a total loss. These brands are placed on the salvage title as part of the salvage title application process.

There are 2 types of primary salvage brands: repairable or parts-only. A repairable brand (REPR) means the vehicle can be repaired and returned to its operating condition. A parts-only brand (PART) means the vehicle can never be registered in Massachusetts. The insurance company that declared the vehicle a total loss determines whether a vehicle is branded “Parts-Only.”

There are 7 types of secondary salvage title brands which tell a customer the event that caused the insurance company to declare his/her vehicle a total loss. These secondary salvage brands are as follows:

  • Collision (COLL)

  • Fire (FIRE)

  • Flood (FLOO)

  • Flood/Salt (SALT)

  • Theft (THEF)

  • Vandalism (VAND)

  • Other (OTHR) – (OTHR brand applies only when the event that caused the vehicle to be declared a total loss was not collision, fire, flood, salt, theft or vandalism.)

Out of state salvage titles

All out-of-state salvage vehicles, regardless of the vehicle’s year of manufacture, must pass a salvage inspection before they can be registered or titled in Massachusetts.

Inspections by authorities in other states will not be honored in Massachusetts unless a prior agreement between the other state and Massachusetts exists. All Salvaged Titles vehicles must be inspected in Massachusetts if they are to be registered in Massachusetts.

If the vehicle with an out of state salvage title is purchased by an individual, it is the responsibility of the purchaser to obtain a Salvage Title in their name prior to the Salvage Inspection process.

New York and Connecticut Salvage Certificates

If a Massachusetts resident or licensed dealer purchases a vehicle that has a New York Salvage Certificate (907A Form) or Connecticut Salvage Certificate, he/she must apply for a Massachusetts Salvage Title prior to selling the vehicle or bringing the vehicle for a salvage inspection.

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