Risks Of Buying a Salvage Title Boat

As with any other purchase, buying a new boat is expensive, and not everyone can afford it. You also have to think about additional taxes, fuel maintenance, and insurance costs. However, buying a salvage title boat is way cheaper, and when you know what to look for, it can be a great deal. 

Note that there are risks involved which makes the exercise one that you should carry on with a lot of caution. If you don’t have the necessary experience or someone experienced guiding you think twice.

What is a Salvage Title?

A salvage title is a type of boat branding that identifies the said boat as damaged or a total loss by an insurance company that has already paid a claim on it to the insured. Many methods are used to conclude that a boat is a total salvage before the title is issued. The methods vary from state to state, province or territory. 

Difference Between a Salvage Title and a Rebuilt Title

The type of title issued depends on the stage the boat is in. For example, the salvage title is issued when the vessel has been written off as unrepairable, and the insurance company offers to replace it with a new one while the damaged boat is sold off as scrap to scrap dealers.

A rebuilt title is issued when a written-off boat has been repaired and restored. It means that it’s now worthy of being in the waters. 

The dealer should tell you upfront that the boat has a rebuilt title before making the purchase decision. Often it can be a good bargain, but it’s a risky deal because you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.

Salvage titles are given to boats that a collision or natural disaster has damaged. They can also be given if the vessel has been declared unsafe for public use.

Unfortunately, salvage titles can reduce the boat’s value and increase your risk when insuring it because you pay higher premiums. If you’re considering buying a salvage-titled boat, this section of the blog post will touch on some of the risks associated with acquiring one.

Note that when you buy a boat with a rebuilt title, you often don’t know the extent of the repaired damage, the quality of materials and spare parts used, and the level of quality control to make sure that it was done correctly.

To reduce this risk, buying a salvage title boat is a better deal. You’ll not only find it cheap but have more control of the repair work. You can source for a boat repair expert you trust, use quality materials and spare parts, and have a level of quality control that will ensure you’re getting the best possible repair for your dollar. However, there are still some risks associated with the exercises.

Reduced Value

Salvage titles can reduce the value of the boat and increase your risk when it comes to insuring. When you finally want to sell the vessel, it will always reflect that it had a salvage title lowering its value.

However, salvage titles can be a great deal when you want to keep the boat for a long time. Most often, the sale price might not recover the repair expenses, making you sell it at a loss. 

Hefty Repair Expenses

As you already know, it will cost you to put the boat back in shape. You might have a budget to work with, but things don’t usually work as planned. Even when you have the required experience to repair it, you will still have to buy spare parts and paint. 

Also, you never know the extent of damages until you start the repair work. As you take care of one issue, you often realize other related issues that need fixing, spending more money, time, and energy. After the repairs, a professional will have to inspect and declare the boat worthy and safe for use before registration and insuring. This, too, costs money. 

No Assurance That it Will Not Break Down in the Future

Just like any other old purchase, a salvage-titled boat comes with many issues, some of which are hard to detect until you get it running. Unfortunately, this means that you’ll keep on spending more money on repairs. 

It will also not be reliable and can put your life and that of your family at risk. Imagine what would happen if it breaks down when you’re in deep waters with no sign of help around. However, sometimes salvage purchases can be a good deal when you find a not too old boat that doesn’t have extensive mechanical problems. 

It’s Not Usually Easy to Find an Ideal Salvage Titled Boat

As you look for the ideal salvage-titled boat to buy, you must consider a not extensively damaged vessel.  Such a boat costs less to repair and will have fewer mechanical problems in the future. 

However, it’s not easy to find this and still manage to keep your budget and preferences. Probably you want a larger boat all your family and friends can fit in or a high-powered one for your water activities. It might take a while before you find a salvage title boat that meets all your specifications. 

Should You Buy a Salvage Title Boat?

Yes, you should as long as you understand the risks and know your way around boats. You might end up getting a good deal that will save you a lot of cash. 

Where Can You Buy a Salvage Titled Boat

You can usually find the boats at salvage yards or salvage boat auctions. Also, most insurance companies have yards where they dispose of the written-off boats. Check a few for the ideal boat you’re looking for.


Buying salvage-titled boats can be risky, and only someone who understands boats well should venture into this market. However, with the right skills, you might end up with a purchase that can fetch you three times more when sold. So don’t rush to buy a salvage but carefully inspect it to find out if it’s worth your money.


James is an avid junkyarder and mechanic. He has visited Junkyards in every US state and has restored over 30 makes and models of vehicles. He has several automotive and recycling related blogs that generate over 150K views a month.