Auto Insurance Claims/Help


I just got into an accident. My 1990 accord is still
drivable but the insurance company declared it as a total loss. They
said they would pay me 2K. I would have to fill an owner retention
form and send a copy of my title of the car. This way I would be able
to keep the car and get paid, as the cost of repairs is more than the
value of the car.

My friend earlier mentioned that if i had to
re-salvage the car I would need to buy a new title then and it would
cost me a whole lot of money. (If i had to sell my car in the future
i would only get about $500 for junk), But I would not be able to junk
the car if the car is not mine. My question to you is, if i fill out
the owner retention form which they would mail it to me and send it
back to them with a copy of my title and the owner retention form, do
i have the legal right over my car? Would i be able to junk/sell it
in future without having to get a new registration and title for it?  I am in the state of IL, the insurance agent said that this state let's keep the salvaged vehicle of to the owner.  

I found this  on a website

625 ILCS 5/3-117.1  An application for a salvage certificate shall be
submitted to the Secretary of State in any of the
following situations:
When an insurance company makes a payment of damages on a total loss
claim for a vehicle,
the insurance company shall be deemed to be the owner of such vehicle
and the vehicle shall
be considered to be salvage except that ownership of (i) a vehicle
that has incurred only hail
damage that does not affect the operational safety of the vehicle or
(ii) any vehicle nine model
years of age or older may, by agreement between the registered owner
and the insurance
company, be retained by the registered owner of such vehicle. The
insurance company shall
promptly deliver or mail within 20 days the certificate of title along
with proper application and
fee to the Secretary of State, and a salvage certificate shall be
issued in the name of the
insurance company. An insurer making payment of damages on a total
loss claim for the theft
of a vehicle may exchange the salvage certificate for a certificate of
title if the vehicle is
recovered without damage. In such a situation, the insurer shall fill
out and sign a form
prescribed by the Secretary of State that contains an affirmation
under penalty of perjury that
the vehicle was recovered without damage and the Secretary of State
may, by rule or
regulation, require photographs to be submitted.

Hasu, Thank you for your question.

While I am not familiar with your  state’s  laws, as I understand your question, you are not having to surrender your title (just a copy) therefore you are able to retain ownership of your vehicle, and yes, later, should you wish to sell it, you should be able to do so.

Some states seize and destroy the vehicle's title and re-issue a "Certificate of Destruction" allowing ownership but not allowing the vehicle to be licensed and/or driven on the roadways. Most states also have "Re-built Vehicle Titles that allow one to repair and operated but the title forevermore designating the vehicle as a "rebuilt Total" simply to provide notice to a potential buyer.

As far as what your friend eluded to with “re-salvaging” and a "new title" and such I am not sure. I would suggest you contact your states Dept. of Motor Vehicles and make an inquiry to be sure you make the proper decision.

Thank you for your question, I hope it was of some assistance.

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Barrett Smith


Auto Claim and Collision Repair issues including quality and thoroughness of repair, Diminished Value, Total Loss settlement valuation, Appraisal Clause matters, Expert Testimony, pre-purchase inspections and others. While having been a Senior Claims Adjuster, I am not licensed to practice law and cannot provide legal counsel. I will provide replies as friendly and informal advice based upon my experiences and those of our clients as possible. For more information on our offerings please visit For more informatin on our offerings please visit


I grew up working in a family owned auto body repair business my father owned and operated in Alaska and after leaving the US Air Force I started my own repair facility in Florida. I later became a senior claims adjuster for a national auto insurer and later managed two GM dealership collision centers. I started another shop which was recognized as a "Top Shop" in central Florida for over 15 years winning numerous local accolades and awards such as Business of the Year. In 2001 I developed Auto Damage Experts to provide its services nation wide and to all segments illustrating balance and equity for all ADE clients. For more information please visit

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