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What it means to total your car

So you’ve been in an accident – and your car has definitely seen better days on the road. Maybe you’ve invested a lot in your vehicle or it holds sentimental value, but you decide to look into having it repaired. Depending on the type of branding it receives after the collision, the repairs may not be approved.

Ontario established the Mandatory Vehicle Branding Program to make roads safer by reducing auto fraud and theft. As part of the program, insurers, auto recyclers, salvagers, auctioneers and dealers must assign a “brand” to vehicles that are severely damaged and report them to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO). 1

There are four different brands used:

  • Irreparable. The vehicle is written off as a total loss that can only be used for parts or scrap. Irreparable vehicles cannot be driven in Ontario.

  • Salvage. The vehicle is written off as a total loss but can be used for parts or scrap, or it can be repaired. If repaired, the vehicle is subject to a rigorous safety inspection to brand it as “rebuilt.”

  • Rebuilt. The vehicle is branded as “salvage” that has been rebuilt and inspected, in accordance with regulatory criteria.

  • None. The vehicle is not given any of the above brands because:

                 ­čí▓   It may have had a damage related brand outside of Ontario.
                 ­čí▓   It may have been damaged or rebuilt before March 31, 2003.
                 ­čí▓   The degree of damage does not meet branding criteria.
                 ­čí▓   The vehicle was never in a collision.

In Ontario if your car is deemed a salvage vehicle it’s a little more difficult to get your vehicle back in proper working condition. Typically with a salvage brand your insurance company will consider it as a total loss and will compensate you accordingly. Depending on your policy on a rebuilt car, your coverage may not be sufficient. In fact many insurance companies choose to not provide coverage for rebuilt vehicles.

What do I need to receive “Rebuilt” status?
In order for a vehicle to be considered as “Rebuilt” the owner must:

  • Provide detailed photographs of the vehicle’s damaged state, as well as invoices for major components used to rebuild the vehicle and any other supporting documents. It’s recommended that you keep anything pertaining to repairs or maintenance on your vehicle.

  • An insurance estimate once your vehicle is rebuilt if your vehicle was previously branded as “Salvage”. A vehicle deemed salvaged can (depending on the insurance company) be insured pending a mechanical safety and pictures.

Keep in mind if you’re moving from a province outside of Ontario with a “Rebuilt” branded vehicle, you need an inspection from an authorized technician to be registered for road use in Ontario.2

Looking to get a quote on car insurance? call an OTIP broker today at 1-833-494-0085 . If you have questions about your current car insurance policy held with OTIP, call your OTIP broker at 1-833-615-9329.

  1. Auto Insurance Explained – IBC (Insurance Bureau of Canada)
  2. Mandatory Vehicle Branding Program – Government of Ontario
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