Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Apr 26, 2022

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Are you a biker interested in rebuilding a wrecked but former beauty? It may be a project, but one that becomes worth it when you see the rebuild. The question is, can you get liability insurance on a motorcycle with a salvaged title?  This may not be as easy as you think, because it’s pretty cut and dry. If you have a salvage title, you cannot drive it on public roads.

Therefore, you cannot get insurance for a salvage title on a motorcycle for safety reasons. If you have a rebuilt title however, you can get liability insurance. Insurance companies would just be hesitant to offer comprehensive coverage or collision coverage due to the risk of unknown damage. There are quite a few overall motorcycle insurance options to choose from, but the motorcycle in question needs to be road ready.

What are the risks of a salvage title vehicle?

Salvage vehicles are vehicles that have been labeled as totaled in a wreck and have had such suffered  destruction that the insurance company paid off the owner the full insured price of the vehicle. They declare it a total loss and generally sell it for parts or scrap. In some cases, people choose to rebuild these cars, which may require replacing major parts such as the whole engine. The cost of repairs just to get a rebuilt title can be high.

Many people feel that salvage titles, because of their histories, are accidents waiting to happen. Some drivers are only willing to buy salvage title vehicles if they get full disclosure of what happened and how it was repaired.

When it comes to insuring salvage title motorcycles, it is a slightly different situation. You don’t necessarily need a clean title to take a bike out on the road. Even when a salvage title has been converted to a rebuilt title, many experienced bikers hesitate to invest. These bikes are typically much cheaper than new ones, but they can come with a lot of hidden problems.

This does not mean that you will be unable to find insurance rates for wrecked and repaired motorcycles. If you do find an insurance company willing to offer full coverage for a rebuilt motorcycle, they will probably charge you a much higher rate for less coverage. Many insurance companies will not offer anything beyond liability for former salvage title cars or motorcycles.

The bike has already been declared worthless and wrecked. Though it may be rebuilt to working operation, there is no guarantee that all the mechanical problems have been worked out.

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What technicalities should you consider when insuring a salvaged motorcycle?

Some insurance providers might also require that the state inspect the bike to make sure that it is road-worthy.  An insurance company will not insure any vehicle that still appears to be functioning at compromised performance. How is this process proven? The rider takes bike documentation to the insurance company to confirm that all repairs have been made and finalized.

In general, insurance companies try to avoid salvage title vehicles. These are vehicles that are considered a total loss and have already been maxed out in coverage. They are often traded for parts and, hence, they do require salvage titles. There can be a wide array of issues that arise from a salvage title, which means that the risk increases with this type of vehicle.

However, many ambitious mechanics and builders like the challenge of repairing a bike and getting a sweet new ride at a discount price. Some expensive bikes can be repaired for just a few hundred dollars, if you know what you’re doing.

It is strongly recommended that you have the bike inspected by a skilled mechanic or auto company who works with motorcycles. Remember, the damage isn’t always easy to see. Major problems and extensive damage can exist internally, even while the exterior looks smooth and clean.

Should you insure totaled bikes that still run?

There is one other issue to consider here. Some insurance companies will be much more inclined to total a motorcycle than the average slightly wrecked car. Though your bike might not appear to have significant damage, the insurance company may write that insured bike off as “extensively damaged” as they determine the value of a damaged motorcycle. Why? Because the insurance company doesn’t want to pay the high expenses of fixing it.

Some bikers have remarked that their insurance companies have totaled good bikes simply because they were knocked over and scratched. The insurance company is just paranoid about having to cover a transmission problem or some other internal defect. This “injustice” of motorcycle insurance may work for you or against you.

An insurance company’s willingness to total a perfectly running bike can work wonders for you under the right circumstances. You can buy a salvage title bike for a huge discount, knowing it’s 100% operational. Of course, this depends on just how willing you are to investigate the bike’s quality.

Even in this happy scenario, the con here is that you cannot insure this perfectly operational bike with comprehensive insurance or collision insurance. Once it’s totaled, it’s totaled and all you can pay for is liability. The decision must be carefully weighed by you and your mechanic.

Can you get liability insurance on a motorcycle with a salvaged title? The Bottom Line

In the meantime, know that it is perfectly legal to buy insurance for a salvaged motorcycle, provided you can find a company willing to cover your claims. They will examine your driver’s history, make and model number, credit score, neighborhood and yearly mileage, among other factors.

You should also consider looking at various insurance quotes. You may find an array of offers that suit the motorcycle you’re looking at or have already purchased.