A totaled car is one that’s considered too costly to repair. But just because your vehicle is a total loss doesn’t mean you can’t receive a settlement on it. Rather than paying for repairs, you can settle for its salvage value. You must go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before receiving compensation. A total loss registration refund can also be obtained by visiting your local DMV.
We’ll explain how the process works in California and if it’s possible to get a DMV total loss registration refund.
How a Total Loss Registration Refund Works in California
If you’ve paid a registration fee after the sale of a vehicle, you can receive a full refund. However, after a total loss, you can receive a prorated refund of the Vehicle License Fee (VLF) portion of the registration fee. The VLF is paid in lieu of a personal property tax on vehicles operated on public highways in the state. The DMV can provide a refund if your car is:
- Stolen: If a car is stolen, the incident is reported to the police, and the vehicle isn’t recovered within 60 days, it must be transferred to the insurance company, person, or entity that paid you for the loss. In this case, it’s considered an unrecovered total loss.
- Wrecked, Destroyed, or Severely Damaged: A constructive total loss is a vehicle that’s considered uneconomical to repair. But before you can request a refund, you must obtain a salvage certificate from the DMV.
- Nonrepairable: If the vehicle has no value (except for parts or scrap metal), you must obtain a Nonrepairable Certificate before receiving a refund. Such is also the case if it was destroyed by a fire or completely stripped after being stolen.
The owner can request a refund of the prorated VLF of a salvage vehicle. The owner may be the insurance company if it issued you a settlement and retained possession of the vehicle in question. To be considered the owner, you must, after it’s been determined the car is uneconomical to repair, have not repaired it and applied for a Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Certificate.
Calculating a DMV Total Loss Registration Refund
While you’re not refunded the registration or miscellaneous fees, you can receive 1/12 of the annual VLF for each month remaining until the totaled car’s registration expires. A total loss vehicle partial VLF refund service fee will be deducted. You won’t receive a refund if the service fee exceeds the amount of the VLF that’s eligible to be refunded.
How to Request Your Total Loss Registration Refund
To receive any refund from the DMV, you must:
- Determine That the Car Is Totaled: State law considers a car totaled if the cost to repair the damage is greater than 75% of its total value. Usually, the driver’s insurance company determines if the vehicle is totaled. The insurer may request the claimant bring it to an approved auto shop for a professional opinion.
- Submit an Application Form: To request a refund, you must complete and submit an Application for Vehicle License Refund (REG 65 (opens in a new window)) Complete Part A for an unrecovered stolen vehicle or Part B for a total loss or unrepairable vehicle damaged, wrecked, or destroyed by a single accident or event.
Before submitting a REG 65 form, you must obtain a Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Certificate, which requires submitting a different application and surrendering the vehicle’s license plates within 10 days of the settlement loss. Other documentation may also be required, and you’ll need to pay a Salvage Certificate fee and hand over the certificate of title. Once you meet all the requirements and mail the completed REG 65 form to the address it specifies, you may receive a refund check from the DMV headquarters, which is located in Sacramento.
Call Jacob for Help with Your Car Accident Settlement
A VLF refund is small in value compared to a car accident personal injury settlement. Therefore, the DMV total loss registration refund is not compensation for all your losses. At the Law Offices of Jacob Emrani, we represent you and fight the insurance companies to get the financial compensation you need and deserve. We’ve won millions of dollars in damages over the years. To schedule a free case evaluation in your home or office, anywhere in California, call (888) 952-2952 today.