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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.

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.)