2010 West Virginia Code
CHAPTER 17A. MOTOR VEHICLE ADMINISTRATION, REGISTRATION
ARTICLE 4. TRANSFERS OF TITLE OR INTEREST.
§17A-4-10. Salvage certificates for certain wrecked or damaged vehicles; fee; penalty.

§17A-4-10. Salvage certificates for certain wrecked or damaged vehicles; fee; penalty.
(a) In the event a motor vehicle is determined to be a total loss or otherwise designated as "totaled" by any insurance company or insurer, and upon payment of a total loss claim to any insured or claimant owner for the purchase of the vehicle, the insurance company or the insurer, as a condition of the payment, shall require the owner to surrender the certificate of title: Provided, That an insured or claimant owner may choose to retain physical possession and ownership of a total loss vehicle. If the vehicle owner chooses to retain the vehicle and the vehicle has not been determined to be a cosmetic total loss in accordance with subsection (d) of this section, the insurance company or insurer shall also require the owner to surrender the vehicle registration certificate. The term "total loss" means a motor vehicle which has sustained damages equivalent to seventy-five percent or more of the market value as determined by a nationally accepted used car value guide or meets the definition of a flood-damaged vehicle as defined in this section.

(b) The insurance company or insurer shall, prior to the payment of the total loss claim, determine if the vehicle is repairable, cosmetically damaged or nonrepairable. Within ten days of payment of the total loss claim, the insurance company or insurer shall surrender the certificate of title, a copy of the claim settlement, a completed application on a form prescribed by the commissioner and the registration certificate if the owner has chosen to keep the vehicle to the Division of Motor Vehicles.

(c) If the insurance company or insurer determines that the vehicle is repairable, the division shall issue a "salvage certificate", on a form prescribed by the commissioner, in the name of the insurance company or the insurer or the vehicle owner if the owner has chosen to retain the vehicle. The certificate shall contain on the reverse thereof spaces for one successive assignment before a new certificate at an additional fee is required.

Upon the sale of the vehicle, the insurance company or insurer or the vehicle owner if the owner has chosen to retain the vehicle shall complete the assignment of ownership on the salvage certificate and deliver it to the purchaser. The vehicle shall not be titled or registered for operation on the streets or highways of this state unless there is compliance with subsection (g) of this section. The division shall charge a fee of fifteen dollars for each salvage title issued.

(d) If the insurance company or insurer determines the damage to a totaled vehicle is exclusively cosmetic and no repair is necessary in order to legally and safely operate the motor vehicle on the roads and highways of this state, the insurance company or insurer shall, upon payment of the claim, submit the certificate of title to the division. Neither the insurance company nor the division may require the vehicle owner to surrender the registration certificate in the event of a cosmetic total loss settlement.

(1) The division shall, without further inspection, issue a title branded "cosmetic total loss" to the insured or claimant owner if the insured or claimant owner wishes to retain possession of the vehicle, in lieu of a "salvage certificate". The division shall charge a fee of five dollars for each "cosmetic total loss" title issued. The terms "cosmetically damaged" and "cosmetic total loss" do not include any vehicle which has been damaged by flood or fire. The designation "cosmetic total loss" on a title may not be removed.

(2) If the insured or claimant owner elects not to take possession of the vehicle and the insurance company or insurer retains possession, the division shall issue a cosmetic total loss salvage certificate to the insurance company or insurer. The division shall charge a fee of fifteen dollars for each cosmetic total loss salvage certificate issued. The division shall, upon surrender of the cosmetic total loss salvage certificate issued under the provisions of this paragraph and payment of the five percent privilege tax on the fair market value of the vehicle as determined by the commissioner, issue a title branded "cosmetic total loss" without further inspection.

(e) If the insurance company or insurer determines that the damage to a totaled vehicle renders it nonrepairable, incapable of safe operation for use on roads and highways and which has no resale value except as a source of parts or scrap, the insurance company or vehicle owner shall, in the manner prescribed by the commissioner, request that the division issue a nonrepairable motor vehicle certificate in lieu of a salvage certificate. The division shall issue a nonrepairable motor vehicle certificate without charge.

(f) Any owner who scraps, compresses, dismantles or destroys a vehicle for which a certificate of title, nonrepairable motor vehicle certificate or salvage certificate has been issued shall, within twenty days, surrender the certificate of title, nonrepairable motor vehicle certificate or salvage certificate to the division for cancellation. Any person who purchases or acquires a vehicle as salvage or scrap, to be dismantled, compressed or destroyed, shall within twenty days surrender the certificate to the division.

(g) If the motor vehicle is a "reconstructed vehicle" as defined in this section or section one, article one of this chapter, it may not be titled or registered for operation until it has been inspected by an official state inspection station and by the Division of Motor Vehicles. Following an approved inspection, an application for a new certificate of title may be submitted to the division; however, the applicant shall be required to retain all receipts for component parts, equipment and materials used in the reconstruction. The salvage certificate shall also be surrendered to the division before a certificate of title may be issued with the appropriate brand.

(h) The owner or title holder of any motor vehicle titled in this state which has previously been branded in this state or another state as "salvage", "reconstructed", "cosmetic total loss", "cosmetic total loss salvage", "flood" or "fire" or an equivalent term under another state's laws shall, upon becoming aware of the brand, apply for and receive a title from the Division of Motor Vehicles on which the brand "reconstructed", "salvage", "cosmetic total loss", "cosmetic total loss salvage", "flood" or "fire" is shown. The division shall charge a fee of five dollars for each title so issued.

(i) If application is made for title to a motor vehicle, the title to which has previously been branded "reconstructed", "salvage", "cosmetic total loss", "cosmetic total loss salvage", "flood" or "fire" by the Division of Motor Vehicles under this section and said application is accompanied by a title from another state which does not carry the brand, the division shall, before issuing the title, affix the brand "reconstructed", "cosmetic total loss", "cosmetic total loss salvage", "flood" or "fire" to the title. The privilege tax paid on a motor vehicle titled as "reconstructed", "cosmetic total loss", "flood" or "fire" under the provisions of this section shall be based on fifty percent of the fair market value of the vehicle as determined by a nationally accepted used car value guide to be used by the commissioner.

(j) The division shall charge a fee of fifteen dollars for the issuance of each salvage certificate or cosmetic total loss salvage certificate but shall not require the payment of the five percent privilege tax. However, upon application for a certificate of title for a reconstructed, cosmetic total loss, flood- or fire- damaged vehicle, the division shall collect the five percent privilege tax on the fair market value of the vehicle as determined by the commissioner unless the applicant is otherwise exempt from the payment of such privilege tax. A wrecker/dismantler/rebuilder licensed by the division is exempt from the payment of the five percent privilege tax upon titling a reconstructed vehicle. The division shall collect a fee of thirty-five dollars per vehicle for inspections of reconstructed vehicles. These fees shall be deposited in a special fund created in the State Treasurer's office and may be expended by the division to carry out the provisions of this article: Provided, That on and after the first day of July, two thousand seven, any balance in the special fund and all fees collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited in the State Road Fund. Licensed wreckers/dismantlers/rebuilders may charge a fee not to exceed twenty-five dollars for all vehicles owned by private rebuilders which are inspected at the place of business of a wrecker/dismantler/rebuilder.

(k) As used in this section:

(1) "Reconstructed vehicle" means the vehicle was totaled under the provisions of this section or by the provisions of another state or jurisdiction and has been rebuilt in accordance with the provisions of this section or in accordance with the provisions of another state or jurisdiction or meets the provisions of subsection (m), section one, article one of this chapter.

(2) "Flood-damaged vehicle" means that the vehicle was submerged in water to the extent that water entered the passenger or trunk compartment.

(l) Every vehicle owner shall comply with the branding requirements for a totaled vehicle whether or not the owner receives an insurance claim settlement for a totaled vehicle.

(m) A certificate of title issued by the division for a reconstructed vehicle shall contain markings in bold print on the face of the title that it is for a reconstructed, flood- or fire- damaged vehicle.

(n) Any person who knowingly provides false or fraudulent information to the division that is required by this section in an application for a title, a cosmetic total loss title, a reconstructed vehicle title or a salvage certificate or who knowingly fails to disclose to the division information required by this section to be included in the application or who otherwise violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall for each incident be fined not less than one thousand dollars nor more than two thousand five hundred dollars, or imprisoned in jail for not more than one year, or both fined and imprisoned.

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