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How to insure a motorcycle with a salvage title

Rebuild your project bike’s reputation with inspections and proof of safety.

You can get insurance for a salvage motorcycle that you’ve restored to roadworthy status. However, you might find comprehensive or collision coverage hard to get since providers can’t pinpoint the true value of your bike. To get back on the road legally, clear your bike’s rebuild with a state-approved inspection and then apply for standard or specialty salvage insurance.

What is a salvage title motorcycle?

A salvage title motorcycle means that the bike is declared a total loss after an accident. Insurance companies declare motorcycles a total loss when repairs cost a high percentage of the bike’s value. Typically, providers declare this loss if repairs total between 75% and 90% of the market value. The provider sells the motorcycle to a salvage company who then registers it with a salvage title.Some states won’t allow rebuilt titles for bikes that are declared nonrepairable, meaning you can’t ride on public roads only private property.

How to get insurance on salvage title motorcycles

Not every provider covers a motorcycle with a salvage or rebuilt title. When you find one that does, you may face these extra steps to acquire a policy:

  • Get a state-approved inspection. Because your bike has been declared unrideable, you’ll need to get it approved for the road by a state agency, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This inspection tests the bike’s mechanics like turning signals, brakes, frame integrity and more.
  • Obtain a rebuilt motorcycle title. After your bike is safety-approved, you might qualify for a rebuilt title from a local DMV.
  • Review your provider and coverage options. Consider searching for providers who specify salvage and rebuilt motorcycle coverage or calling providers to ensure that your bike qualifies.
  • Apply for insurance. You’ll need your title and registration and possibly an appraisal or emissions test before obtaining a policy, depending on your state.

What kind of coverage do I need?

Some providers limit the coverage you can get to state minimum liability only and may steer clear of protection for physical damage or modified parts. You might find wider protection in specialized providers instead. Coverage to consider:

  • Bodily injury liability. Cover injuries you may cause to others in an accident.
  • Physical damage liability. Most states require this coverage of another vehicle’s damage, not your own.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist. Safeguard your wallet from underinsured drivers who can’t pay your liability expenses.
  • Medical payments. No matter what your bike looks like, these open-aired rides leave you at higher risk for injuries.
  • Collision and comprehensive. Some providers don’t allow you to get these coverage types, while others may require an appraisal first.
  • Agreed value. You may need to agree on the amount your bike is worth to receive physical damage coverage.

What should I watch out for with salvage title motorcycles?

Salvage motorcycles could be a great buy, or they may not be worth the money you paid for them. Situations to keep in mind with salvage bikes:

  • High premiums and low cash value. You may pay the same for insurance as other makes and models similar to your bike. However, settlement after an accident may be less than expected because of your bike’s diminished value.
  • Natural disasters. Providers may deny salvage bike coverage after a natural disaster. This may be because there’s a higher probability that the bike was damaged due to the natural disaster and not completely repaired afterward.
  • Buying a lemon. A salvage motorcycle is a risky investment if the bike turns out to have more expensive repairs than the value of undamaged models. Avoid this by doing a cost estimate before buying.

What’s the difference between salvage, rebuilt and non-repairable motorcycles?

The difference between these damaged motorcycles could mean backyard riding and track days only or riding on the open road.

  • Salvage bikes. A salvage motorcycle is one that has been declared a total loss and has not been restored or inspected for street-legal riding.
  • Rebuilt motorcycles. A rebuilt motorcycle is a bike with a previous salvage title that’s been restored for riding, passed state safety inspections and received a rebuilt motorcycle title.
  • Non-repairable bikes. Sometimes insurance companies issue a non-repairable motorcycle title, which limits that bike’s use. Riders who purchase the bike may only use the motorcycle for parts, or they might restore it for private or track use.

Who is most likely to be researching motorcycle salvage titles?

Finder data suggests that men aged 25-34 are most likely to be researching this topic.

ResponseMale (%)Female (%)
Source: Finder sample of 1,247 visitors using demographics data from Google Analytics

Bottom line

Getting insurance on a salvage bike can get tricky because the motorcycle has been declared unfit for the road. To get it approved for the road and for insurance, you might need safety tests, inspections and a rebuilt title to prove its roadworthiness.

Compare motorcycle providers who offer the coverage you need at the best value.

Frequently asked questions about salvage title motorcycles

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