Total Loss/Salvage Vehicle Process

This section provides the Registry of Motor Vehicles' current policies relating to motor vehicles which have been stolen and unrecovered or 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 it uneconomical to repair. Included in this section are policies on the types of Salvage Titles, information on salvage inspections, New York Certificates, and junk vehicles.

 

If a vehicle has been declared a total loss, the owner or, if insured, the insurance company, must apply for a Salvage Title within ten days of the settlement (for insured vehicles) or date of occurrence which caused it to be a total loss (for uninsured vehicles). Once a vehicle has been designated as salvage, the classification is permanent and remains part of the vehicle's history. Please note, once a Salvage Title has been issued, the vehicle is no longer registered and cannot be legally driven.

 

In some instances, the insurance company may deem a vehicle to be a total loss and allow the owner to retain possession of the vehicle. In these instances, the owner may have the choice to either apply for a Salvage Title or Owner Retained Title. If the vehicle has an active registration and can be safely operated on a public way, an Owner Retained Title may be applied for. If the vehicle does not have an active registration or cannot be legally or safely operated on a public way, then a Salvage Title must be applied for.

 

Note: To apply for specific types of Salvage Titles, see Repairable Titles, Reconstructed Titles, Recovered Theft Titles, Parts Only Titles, Out-of-State Salvage Titles or Owner-Retained Titles sections.

 

Exemptions

According to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90D §20B, passenger vehicles ten or more model years old at the date of the event, which caused the vehicle to be declared a total loss, are exempt from the Salvage Title process.

 

Other vehicles that are exempt from the salvage process include:

      A vehicle owned by the U.S. (unless registered under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90)

      A vehicle moved solely by animal power

      An implement of husbandry

      Special mobile equipment

      Trailers

      Passenger vehicles ten or more years old at the time of loss

      Manufactured homes (See Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 140, §32Q)

 

Applying for a Salvage Title Without a Certificate of Title

 

Insurance companies and Massachusetts dealers (Class 2 or Class 3) applying for a salvage title may use the Affidavit in Lieu of Certificate of Title for Salvage Vehicle to certify that a valid Certificate of Title is not available for the vehicle (as detailed in M.G.L Chapter 90D, Section 20(e)(1) or 20(e)(2)).  The standard $50 Salvage Title fee must be paid for this transaction.

 

If the vehicle is a passenger vehicle ten or more years old, the insurance company or dealer may use this new affidavit to apply for a Certificate of Title.

 

Note that this affidavit can be used as a substitute for the former vehicle owner's Certificate of Title if, and only if, the Certificate of Title is not available and the insurance company or dealer has met all the requirements listed below.

 

Requirements

 

Insurance Companies

An insurance company must submit the following documentation:

 

      Completed Affidavit in Lieu of Certificate of Title for Salvage Vehicle.  The insurance company must certify all of the following by signing the affidavit:

It has paid a total-loss claim to the former owner of the vehicle

It has satisfied any existing lienholder

It has not been able to obtain the Certificate of Title from the former owner

It has made two written attempts to contact the vehicle’s former owner (via certified mail)

      Documentation of the total-loss claim paid to the former owner

      Legible copies of the two written attempts to contact the former owner (via certified mail)

 

Dealers

A dealer must submit the following documentation:

 

      Completed Affidavit in Lieu of Certificate of Title for Salvage Vehicle.  The dealer must certify all of the following by signing the affidavit:

An insurer requested the dealer take possession of the vehicle as part of an insurance claim

A total-loss claim was not paid on the vehicle

The vehicle has been abandoned on the dealer’s property for more than 30 days

The dealer has made two written attempts to contact the vehicle’s former owner and any known lienholder (via certified mail)

The dealer has not been able to obtain the Certificate of Title from the former owner

      Documentation of the insurer’s request for the dealer to take possession of the vehicle

      Legible copies of the two written attempts to contact the former owner and any known lienholder (via certified mail)

 

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 two 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 the Commonwealth. The insurance company that declared the vehicle a total loss determines whether a vehicle is branded “Parts-Only.”

 

There are seven 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.)

 

Note: Other (OTHR) is to be used only when the listed brands cannot describe the event which caused the vehicle to be salvaged.

 

For more information on Title brands, see the Title Brands section.

 

Sales/Use Tax for Salvage Titles

The transfer of ownership of a total loss salvage vehicle may be subject to sales/use tax. Please see the Massachusetts Sales and Use Tax Requirements section for more information.