- 1 Can I Keep My Motorcycle if the Insurance Company Totals It?
- 2 How to Buy Back a Totaled Motorcycle
- 3 How Much Will it Cost to Buy Back a Totaled Motorcycle?
- 4 When Is a Motorcycle Totaled?
- 5 Why Do Insurance Companies Total Motorcycles With Little Damage?
- 6 Is it a Good Idea to Keep My Totaled Motorcycle?
- 7 What to Consider if You Decide to Keep a Totaled Motorcycle
- 8 What Should I Do if I Don’t Have Collision and the Car’s Insurance Won’t Pay Enough for my Motorcycle?
- 9 Comments about Keeping a Totaled Motorcycle
Can I Keep My Motorcycle if the Insurance Company Totals It?
Yes, you can keep your motorcycle if the insurance company declares it to be a total loss. The insurance company will pay you for the total value of your motorcycle plus tax, less the salvage value. You can purchase the vehicle back for scrap value with a salvage title.
Many of our clients are attached to their motorcycle and want to keep it at any cost. We have had clients who know how to repair or rebuild it and clients who built a custom motorcycle and wanted to rebuild it.
How to Buy Back a Totaled Motorcycle
Just tell the insurance company that you want to keep your totaled motorcycle. The insurance company will pay you for the damage to your motorcycle less the salvage value. You will keep your motorcycle and get a salvage title.
How Much Will it Cost to Buy Back a Totaled Motorcycle?
The cost to buy back a totaled motorcycle is the cost of the salvage value. But you don’t have to pay that money. You will just receive less money from the insurance company. The insurance company will pay you for the damage to your motorcycle less the salvage value.
$7,500 motorcycle value before it was totaled
$500 salvage value
$7,500 amount you receive if you do not keep your motorcycle
$7,000 amount you receive if you keep your motorcycle with a salvage title
If you want to repair your motorcycle, always use a qualified motorcycle repair shop unless you’re highly experienced.
When Is a Motorcycle Totaled?
Motorcycles are totaled by the insurance company in the vast majority of our motorcycle accident cases. We have even seen motorcycles totaled when there was almost no visible damage.
Often, the insurance company won’t even send an appraiser to the repair shop to inspect your motorcycle. They just call the shop and ask the shop to email photos of the motorcycle.
In New York, the motorcycle will be totaled if the cost to repair is 75% or more of the motorcycle value.
Our cases always involve an injury from a motorcycle accident. But just like a motorcycle can be totaled with little to no visible damage, a rider can be seriously injured even when the motorcycle has little to no visible damage.
Why Do Insurance Companies Total Motorcycles With Little Damage?
Because most motorcycles are worth considerably less than cars, the cost of repairing a motorcycle is proportionately more than repairing a car. Therefore, motorcycles are totaled more often than cars.
Often, the fork and/or frame is bent, or there is a crack in the motor or other parts, and the cost to repair the motorcycle is just too much compared to the value of the motorcycle.
The damage to the motorcycle in this photo doesn’t look too bad but if you look closely at the photo you can see cracks on the fairing as well as damage to the gas tank and handlebar. Not so visible was that the fork was bent. The motorcycle was totaled.
Is it a Good Idea to Keep My Totaled Motorcycle?
Rarely. Unless you have an antique motorcycle or highly collectible motorcycle with considerable value, it wouldn’t make sense to keep it.
We had a client who was unhappy when the insurance company offered him $8,000 for his Harley Davidson with a Screaming Eagle package. He wanted to keep the motorcycle but we checked with Harley Davidson and were told that his Screaming Eagle package was a dealer add-on and not collectible. We then got the insurance company to pay $13,000 so he decided to take the money.
We had another client who built his own custom motorcycle that looked like a “Mad Max” motorcycle. He wanted to purchase his totaled motorcycle with a salvage title and rebuild it because he spent hundreds of hours building it and the insurance company was only offering him $12,000. We paid for an estimate to build an identical custom motorcycle and got the insurance company to pay $28,000, so our client decided to just take the money.
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What to Consider if You Decide to Keep a Totaled Motorcycle
The motorcycle is your property and it is always your choice whether to keep it or not. However, there are consequences you need to consider if you decide to keep your motorcycle.
If you keep your motorcycle after it is totaled by the insurance company you will get a salvage title. A salvage title will significantly reduce the value of your motorcycle and affect your insurance.
Read about salvage titles at Edmunds.
If you have a salvage title your insurance premium will likely be higher and you may have difficulty finding an insurance company willing to insure a motorcycle with a salvage title. If you find an insurance company, your insurer will probably only cover liability.
The insurance company will deduct a few hundred dollars from the money they pay you for your totaled motorcycle. Most totaled motorcycles have a salvage value of $500-800. Whatever the salvage value is, your insurance company will deduct that from the money they pay you.
If you want to buy your totaled motorcycle, you will have to forgo getting paid the salvage value, Therefore, your cost to buy your totaled motorcycle is the amount of the salvage value.
Motorcycles Financed With a Bank Loan
If you keep your motorcycle with a salvage title, the bank will need to be paid in full whether or not the money you receive from the insurance company is enough to pay off the loan.
You wouldn’t want to buy a motorcycle with a salvage title for the same amount as a motorcycle with an unbranded title. So, don’t expect to sell your motorcycle for full value if the title is branded as salvage. A salvage title will significantly reduce the value of your motorcycle.
What Should I Do if I Don’t Have Collision and the Car’s Insurance Won’t Pay Enough for my Motorcycle?
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in New York, we will represent you for free for your motorcycle damage claim. It may take longer to get the money for your motorcycle than if you had collision coverage, but we won’t charge you a legal fee and we have been very successful getting full value from the other car’s insurance for our clients’ motorcycles, so you’re likely to get all your money back.
Note: We do not represent motorcyclists for motorcycle collision damage unless you were injured.
See why we highly recommend collision coverage for motorcycles. If you don’t have collision coverage on your motorcycle you’ll probably find that the other driver’s insurance won’t pay you 100% of your motorcycle’s value.
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Motorcycle Attorney Phil Franckel talks about how motorcycle accidents are different
Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is the author of all articles and content on this website, one of the Personal Injury Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York, well-known for representing motorcyclists. He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and is a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Franckel created the motorcycle awareness campaign BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE®.
Founding Partner Rob Plevy, Esq.
Robert Plevy, Esq. is a motorcycle accident lawyer and one of the Personal Injury Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York. Robert began his legal career in 1993 as an Assistant Corporation Counsel defending The City of New York against personal injury lawsuits.