What Is a Branded Title? Does It Affect Insurance?

A branded auto is a vehicle that has suffered significant damage. Branded title insurance can significantly affect your rates or make it impossible to get comprehensive or collision coverage.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Jun 6, 2022

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What is a branded car title? A branded title vehicle is a vehicle that has been involved in a major collision or accident or has otherwise suffered significant damage. Branded title insurance can significantly affect your rates or make it impossible for you to get comprehensive or collision insurance coverage.

You may have heard the term ‘branded title’ or ‘branded title vehicle‘ when dealing with car insurance or shopping for cars. What is a branded title? Does a branded title affect car insurance premiums?

Today, we’re answering all your questions about how vehicle title branding works, including what a branded title is and whether or not it affects car insurance premiums.

What does branded title mean on a car?

With the dangers of texting and driving also comes an increase in car accidents. A branded title vehicle is a vehicle that has been involved in a major collision or accident or has suffered some type of significant damage.

When a vehicle has a branded title, it means the car has previously suffered some type of serious damage or has been significantly compromised in some way. There are hail damage title brands, for example, and lemon title brands.

A vehicle’s title branding is handled by state agencies – like your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The system is designed to alert motor vehicle buyers of potential future problems with branded title vehicles.

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Types of Branded Title on Cars

There are different types of branded titles. Some titles refer to a vehicle’s accident history. Other titles refer to a car’s ‘lemon’ status. Some branded titles let you know a branded vehicle has been fully submerged in flood.

Some of the most common types of branded car titles include:

What is a lemon branded title?

Most states have some type of lemon law system. This lemon law system allows consumers to return new cars that have an unusually high number of problems. Lemon laws protect consumers and make it easy for vehicle buyers to return poorly made vehicles to the dealer.

Each state’s lemon law system has strict requirements governing which types of defects qualify a car to be returned. These laws vary from state to state. A car that meets lemon law requirements in California, for example, may not meet lemon law requirements in North Carolina.

If a consumer has used lemon law protections to return a vehicle, then a lemon title brand gets added to that vehicle’s title. If the dealership chooses to resell that vehicle, the next buyer will see this title brand on the vehicle history report.

What is an odometer rollback branded title?

vehicle with 50,000 miles is worth considerably more money than a vehicle with 500,000 miles on it, all other things being equal. That’s why some unscrupulous vehicle sellers will ‘roll back’ the odometer, turning a high-mileage vehicle into a low-mileage vehicle in minutes.

Odometer rollback can be hard to detect without a skilled mechanic. However, if an odometer rollback has been detected, then the vehicle will receive an odometer rollback title brand. This title brand appears on the vehicle history report. Future buyers know the odometer has been rolled back, although they might never know the vehicle’s actual mileage.

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What is a salvage title brand?

Some vehicles receive a salvage title brand after major damage. When a vehicle suffers damage that costs more to repair than the car is worth, then the vehicle will receive a salvage title brand. The car has been declared a total loss.

Different states have different rules governing a salvage vehicle. In some cases, a car with a salvage title in one state may have its record wiped clean when moving to another state. Generally, however, car buyers will be able to easily view the salvage title brand of a car before buying that salvage car.

What is a water damage branded title?

If a car has been fully submerged in water – say, during a flood – then it may receive a water damage title brand. Floodwater can cause mildew and mold in the car’s interior. Saltwater can significantly affect the integrity of your vehicle.

Check the vehicle history report for a water damage title brand. Any car that has been significantly damaged by water should have a water damage title brand.

What is a hail damage title brand?

60% of severe weather insurance claims every year are related to hail. Hail can have a significant impact on the resale damage of an automobile, but it can also help used car buyers save a considerable amount of money.

Not all states issue a title brand for hail damage. Hail-prone states like Texas, for example, have no hail damage title brand. If your state doesn’t have hail damage title branding, then it’s crucial you check the car’s exterior carefully for damage. Hail damage can be more severe than you realize.

All of the following states issue title brands specifically for hail damage: Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Washington D.C.

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How does a branded title affect car insurance?

Branded titles can significantly affect car insurance. For example, does Allstate insure rebuilt titles?

Yes, you can insure a car that has a salvage title. However, you may not be able to buy comprehensive or collision coverage. Collision and comprehensive coverage are optional policies covering the cost of repairing your car after a collision or during non-accident-related events.

If your car has a hail damage title brand, for example, then your insurance company may refuse to provide comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage would normally cover the cost of repairing damage to your car, but your insurer will claim they can’t separate the old damage from the new damage.

However, most insurance companies will happily provide liability coverage to autos with branded titles or salvage titles, allowing you to legally drive on the road and stay protected. This type of car insurance will also be significantly cheaper than full coverage insurance, which means a branded title car can save you hundreds or even thousands on car insurance.

Without collision and comprehensive coverage, however, your car will lack certain protections. You won’t be able to make an insurance claim if a tree falls on your car, for example, or if your vehicle is stolen. Chances are, you will have to take on some financial responsibility when doing repairs.

Talk to your insurance company or compare quotes online today to ensure you’re getting the best possible deal on branded title car insurance.

What is title washing?

States have different rules governing title brands. A car may qualify for a lemon title brand in one state but not another.

Because of these different rules, some dishonest car buyers will move cars between states to wipe away a title. This is called title washing.

Title washing can be tough to avoid, and damage may not appear on a standard vehicle history report when a buyer researches a potential sale. However, you may be able to spot title washing by doing an AutoCheck or CarFAX VIN Check, which tracks vehicle information between states.

What is the final word on branded titles?

A branded title is given to a vehicle that has been significantly damaged or altered in some way. When a car has a branded title, it may make it difficult – or even impossible – to get comprehensive and collision coverage. However, you should still be able to get liability coverage without issue.

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