How to buy salvage vehicles from an insurance company

Written by gail marie
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How to buy salvage vehicles from an insurance company

Salvaged vehicles are those that insurance companies have deemed "totalled," meaning that the cost to repair the damage from a collision or theft is more than, for example, 75% of its value. (The percentage varies state to state.) If you know how to fix up rundown vehicles or know a mechanic you trust to do so for you, buying a salvaged vehicle may be an option. Doing so will save you thousands of dollars and is surprisingly easy if you have Internet access.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Become an expert in salvaged vehicle laws in your state. Realise that when purchasing a salvaged vehicle, you are taking a big risk: you do not know the identity of the previous owner or the true condition of the vehicle (which has usually survived a collision), which does not come with a guarantee or warranty.

  2. 2

    Before shopping for a salvaged vehicle, decide what type of car or truck you are looking for--narrow it down and research the vehicle so that when you see the available vehicles, you can quickly decide which are worth your time investigating and bidding on.

  3. 3

    Find a local auction to attend in person by searching the web sites of Insurance Auto Auctions and ADESA. Information about the vehicles being auctioned is available to potential buyers online. Download the information, research the vehicles you're interested in, and make arrangements to personally attend the auction.

  4. 4

    If attending an auction in person isn't viable, or if there is not an auction taking place close by, "attend" an auction online through Salvage Direct.

  5. 5

    After purchasing a salvaged vehicle, take it to a qualified auto body expert to ensure it is safe to drive. You may need to pay for major repairs, but that still might be cheaper than buying a non-salvaged vehicle.

Tips and warnings

  • Though buying these vehicles is risky, not all salvage vehicles are bad. If repaired properly, they can be safe, sound investments.
  • Your insurance company may not insure a salvaged vehicle.
  • Your insurance company may challenge a future claim on your salvaged vehicle even if they do insure it.
  • The resale value of your salvaged vehicle is very low.

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