Vehicle Industry Registration Procedures Manual

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Section 20 of 38

Chapter 19: Salvage – Nonrepairable – Junk Vehicles

19.050 Removing Salvage Retention Status

Insurance companies are required to report a vehicle as a total loss salvage when the vehicle has been wrecked, destroyed, or damaged to such an extent that the insurer considers it uneconomical to repair.

When DMV is notified by an insurance company that the vehicle has been damaged to such an extent that it is considered uneconomical to repair it, and possession of the vehicle is being retained by the registered owner; DMV marks the vehicle record with a “Salvage Retention” status.

Sometimes, the registered owner believes that the salvage status of the vehicle was reported in error, and they want the record corrected. However, there is no statutory authority that allows DMV to modify the total loss salvage status, except when
reported by the insurer in error.

Therefore, before DMV will remove the salvage status, the registered owner must provide appropriate documentation showing that the vehicle was erroneously reported as a salvage retention.

One of the following must be submitted:

  • A declaration signed under penalty of perjury by the manager responsible for the claim (insurer), attesting that the vehicle was erroneously reported as a total loss salvage. The declaration must state “the insurer agrees to protect, indemnify, and hold harmless DMV and any and all officers and employees from all expense, cost of liability, including reasonable attorney’s fees, arising from a claim or action based, in whole or in part, on the removal of the salvage brand from the vehicle record, Certificate of Title, and the certificate of registration.”
  • If arbitration or mediation was negotiated, documentation signed by the arbitrator or mediator, the manager responsible for claims (insurer), and the insured stating that the vehicle is repairable and not a total loss salvage as defined in the California Vehicle Code §544.
  • A court order directing DMV to remove the salvage status.
  • Issue the customer a 90-day temporary operating permit (TOP).
  • Advise the customer that DMV will review the request and they will be notified by mail of DMV ’s decision. DMV headquarters will place a correspondence stop (RCC 05, RSN 53) on the vehicle record, while DMV is reviewing the reversal request.

If the applicant is unable to secure the appropriate documentation or the request for reversal is denied, they must apply for a salvage certificate or comply with the procedures for a revived salvage in this chapter.