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

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...

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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...

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Reviewed byDaniel Walker
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UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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Are you a biker interested in rebuilding a wrecked (former) beauty? She may be a project, but this bike has potential! The question is, can you legally get liability on a salvaged title? For starters, know that with most automobile and trucks, this is completely acceptable.

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Salvage titles are vehicles that have been “totaled” in a wreck and have had such suffered such destruction that the insurance company paid off the owner the full insured price of the vehicle.

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.

Salvaged Titles and the Risks

When it comes to insuring salvage motorcycles, it is a slightly different sport. Many riders will not buy salvage bikes. Period. The risks are simply too great. This does not mean that you will be unable to find insurance rates for wrecked and repaired motorcycles. The insurance company is willing to insure practically anything if you are willing to pay for it.

However, as a general rule an insurance company will only provide liability insurance on a salvage title bike, and will not cover comprehensive damage or collision damage. Why should they? The bike has already been declared worthless and wrecked. Though it may be rebuilt to working operation, there is no guarantee that all of the mechanical problems have been worked out.

Technicalities You Should Consider Insuring a Salvaged Motorcycle

Some insurance providers might also require that the state inspect the bike to make sure that is road-worthy quality. 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.

However, many ambitious mechanics and builders like the challenge of repairing a bike and getting a sweet new ride at a discount price. Indeed, 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 can exist internally, even while the exterior looks smooth and clean.

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Insuring 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 of 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 for 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.

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.

Why not start looking for insurance coverage right now? You can use the chaser tool on this page to compare prices between different motorcycle insurance providers—it’s easy and convenient!

Start by typing your zip code into the box and compare online motorcycle quotes today!

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