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Why do some Cars have Certificate of Destruction

  • 3 min read

Why do some cars have a certificate of destruction? And you may have a vehicle that has a certificate of destruction or a non-repairable title that came from either a Copart or IAEI auto auction, or maybe you purchased it through a broker from one of those sources. Upon settlement of a complete loss claim for a car, an insurance company issues a certificate of destruction.

In many cases, the vehicle doesn’t appear to have any significant damage and appears to be a running car or one that could go back on the road. The issue is that a car with a non-repairable title or a certificate of destruction cannot be given a standard title and is thus not allowed to be driven again. In most states, that car is required to be sold only to a licensed salvage yard or junkyard to be used for scrap. The question comes up. Why is that car not allowed to go back on the road? If it’s in good condition, as in many cases, the insurance company issues that certificate based on the history of the car, not the condition. If the car has been flooded or recovered from theft or some other type of insurance event that doesn’t cause a lot of physical damage but may incur damage to things like the electrical system, airbag sensors, anti-lock brakes, or even frame damage, some of those items aren’t readily apparent but may require that the insurance company not allow the car to go back on the road for liability purposes. In those cases, the car is only to be sold for parts.

For that reason, the condition of those cars is often better than the condition of a salvage title car that might have been impacted or crashed. These certificate of destruction vehicles often sell for as much, if not more, than a salvage title car because the parts dismantlers that take these cars apart and sell the engines, transmissions, and body parts have more parts to choose from on that car than on a car that’s been in, so if you have a vehicle that you’ve purchased, it’s very likely that you’re not going to be able to get a title for that car.

And in the state of Kentucky, there is a process where you might be able to get a temporary Kentucky title only for the purpose of using it in that state for a short period of time. So if you have that vehicle, look up the NMVTIS record of the car in the national motor vehicle title information system to see if it has a permanently dismantled vehicle identification number.


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