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The rescue car is the one that the auto insurance company has determined to have so much damage that the repair will cost more than the car. If you own a lifeboat, you often cannot insure it until it is restored and inspected.
The car can be defined as a rescue vehicle if it has been broken into, destroyed or stolen or has suffered other damage that leads to it being considered too expensive to repair.
Situations that may lead to the summation of a car and classification as “rescue” include:
- Crash caused by an accident
- Severe damage caused by flood or hail
- Car theft and recovery
What is a rescue title?
Each country has different guidelines on when a car can be officially summed up. But not all cars declared for complete loss will be saved. Car insurance companies usually make rescue decisions based on state laws and their own internal guidelines.
The title of rescue is usually applied to a car if it is considered a complete loss by the insurance company due to damage or theft.
In Nevada, for example, a lifeline is issued to:
- The insurer when the company declares the vehicle a complete loss. In some cases, you can buy back your rescue car from the insurance company, but this can deduct the car’s rescue value from the amount settled.
- The pledgoror the lender that financed the purchase of the car, if the car is not covered by full coverage and collision coverage.
- Registered car owner if there is no insurance company or hostage involved and you want to keep the car. Some vehicle owners end up donating the car to a charity.
Connected: Solve total problems with car insurance
Can you buy life insurance car?
Many car insurance companies refuse to insure rescue cars. Others may insure rescue vehicles, but offer only basic motor third party liability insurance and not other types of coverage, such as comprehensive insurance and collision insurance.
Even if you are able to get coverage for the rescue car, you may find it expensive. For example, some insurers may charge an additional fee for rescue vehicles. In addition, while the rescue vehicle may cost less due to its history, the insurer may not take into account its depreciated value. This means that you will pay similar rates for a car that has a clean title and a higher value.
What is a redesigned title?
Once the rescue vehicle is restored, you may be able to get car insurance from insurers who are otherwise reluctant to sell car coverage. In this scenario, a car will need what is known as a redesigned title.
Requirements for providing a redesigned title vary from state to state.
In Michigan, for example, a recovered property rescue vehicle can be titled and registered if it passes an inspection by a specially trained law enforcement officer. After a successful inspection, the state issues a “restored rescue” title, which warns future owners about the condition of the car as a previous common vehicle.
If the recovered rescue car is properly titled, you can most likely purchase liability coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. But you may not be able to get comprehensive coverage and collision.
Whatever coverage is available, be prepared for a potentially high price.
Connected: What is a redesigned title?
Tips to avoid problems with a saved car
Experts usually advise you not to buy an emergency car, largely because you probably don’t know exactly what you’re buying. For the same reason, buying a refurbished rescue car can also be a gamble. Ideally, you should look for a car with a “clean” title that indicates that the car has never been summed.
After hurricanes, floods and other major disasters, fraudsters often try to sell badly damaged rescue cars. They may have been repaired, but they are not yet safe to drive. Through a scheme known as “title wash”, the seller can change the title to hide the state of the car’s rescue. You may not learn the story of saving the car until it’s too late.
To avoid an emergency car with a questionable history, follow these tips.
- Shop from a reputable car dealer.
- Get a report on the history of the vehicle. One source of these reports is the free VINCheck service of the National Bureau of Insurance Crime.
- Before buying a used car, check with a trusted mechanic.
- Ask to see car maintenance records.
- Ask if the car was damaged in a flood, accident or other accident.
- Take an odor test. If you find heavy odors from cleaning products, the seller may be trying to cover up a problem, such as mold caused by flooding.
- Check the car for evidence of serious damage. For example, if you see stains from water, mold, sand or mud, this may be a sign that the car has been flooded.
- Stay away if you suspect that someone is trying to sell you an emergency car without telling you about the vehicle’s past as a complete loss.
Connected: Do not wash yourself of fraud with flood-damaged cars
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