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You recently were in an accident with your motorcycle. Although you came out of the experience physically fine, your bike was listed as totaled.

The insurance company will declare the motorcycle as a complete loss. Once that happens, you’ll be paid for the total value plus tax, minus the salvage value of the bike. You can purchase it back and obtain a salvage title at that time.

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If you know how to rebuild or repair a totaled bike, you can get it back on the road one day after it passes inspection.

Why Do I Need to Buy Back a Totaled Motorcycle?

When the insurance company pays you in full for a totaled motorcycle, they become the bike’s owners. That’s why you buy it back for its salvage value from the insurer to maintain ownership.

You can skip this process by not filing a claim since it is your property. In that situation, you’d have no financial recovery from the damage to the bike.

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If you have a totaled motorcycle, tell your insurer that you want to keep the bike. To simplify the process, you’ll get paid for the damage, less its salvage value.

They’ll send you a check, direct deposit, and salvage title once the claims process is over.

It is always a risky decision to buy such a vehicle,  here is why.

How Much Does It Cost to Buy Back a Totaled Motorcycle?

For most motorcycles, the salvage value is typically less than $1,000. Most bikes fall in a range between $250 to $750 across the United States.

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If your motorcycle was totaled because of a covered comprehensive event, you’d have the deductible to pay from the claim in addition to the salvage value of the bike to keep it.

Here’s an example to consider.

  • The motorcycle’s value before the insurance company totaled it was $11,500.
  • You’re given a motorcycle salvage quote of $1,000.
  • You have a $500 deductible on your comprehensive policy.
  • The amount you’d receive from the insurance company would be $10,000 if it were insured for up to that amount.

In New York and other states, a motorcycle will also go through a salvage branding process that changes its title. You can only legally operate a bike with a salvage title on public roads if an examination process is complete.

What If My Totaled Motorcycle Has a Bank Loan?

The financial institution would have a lien on the title if you purchased a motorcycle with a bank loan. Your insurance company will pay off the financed amount and provide you with the extra amount if any exists.

Sometimes, the insurance payout from a totaled motorcycle will not cover the remaining loan amount. In that situation, you are responsible for paying the difference.

In this circumstance, you can still keep a totaled bike with a salvage title. You’ll need to pay the value to the insurance company as part of the settlement process.

When Is a Motorcycle Totaled?

State laws and insurance company policies dictate when a motorcycle is considered a total loss. In New York, that designation occurs when the damage to the bike exceeds 75% of its current value.

In other states, the motorcycle is only considered totaled once it needs repairs that are greater than its actual cash value.

If you believe the motorcycle has more value than the insurance company offers, states like Oregon require you to prove this. When you aren’t at fault for the accident, you can submit a claim through your insurer instead of going through the other driver’s company to see if you can get more.

Each situation is different, so ask about the buyback solutions your motorcycle insurance company offers now so that you’re prepared to get a salvage title if something happens.

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Mike Navarette has more than a decade of experience in the auto insurance industry, but that's not his true passion. He loves getting on a motorcycle to explore roads he's never traveled. You'll find Mike in the garage working on something when he isn't helping clients or leaning into curves. It's sometimes a side hustle, more often a favor, but it keeps his hands busy doing something productive. Since the first time his father strapped on his helmet and took him for a ride, Mike has loved bikes. That passion, along with a desire to help others through a deep understanding of insurance policies, led to the creation of Motorcycle Ride Coverage.

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