Insuring Cars from an Auto Auction: A Comprehensive Guide



Auto insurance auctions offer a rare opportunity for car buyers. People can buy vehicles at much lower prices than at traditional dealerships. These auctions include a variety of cars, ranging from lightly used to those with extensive damage. However, buying a vehicle from an auto insurance auction has its own set of challenges. This is especially true for insuring these vehicles.

Explanation of Auto Insurance Auctions

Auto insurance auctions are events where insurance companies sell vehicles written off as total losses. These vehicles often come with a rebuilt or salvage title. They may have been in accidents, floods, or thefts. They may also have had other incidents that caused big damage. Insurance companies find it cheaper to sell these vehicles at an auction. They choose this over repairing them. The vehicles are then auctioned. The auction is open to the highest bidder, including individual buyers, dealers, and others.

There are typically two types of auto insurance auctions:

  1. Public Auctions: Open to anyone who wishes to participate, including individual buyers and dealers.
  2. Dealer-Only Auctions: Restricted to licensed vehicle dealers who have registered with the auction house.

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Importance of Securing Appropriate Insurance for Auction-Bought Cars

Purchasing a car from an auto insurance auction is just the first step. Getting the right insurance for these vehicles is crucial. It protects your investment and follows state laws. Cars from these auctions often come with salvage or rebuilt titles. This can complicate the insurance process. Insuring a rebuilt salvage title car can be particularly challenging due to its history and condition.

  • Salvage Title: Indicates that the vehicle was deemed a total loss by an insurance company. Insuring a vehicle with a salvage title can be hard. Many insurers hesitate to offer full coverage due to the vehicle’s history.
  • Rebuilt Title: Indicates that the vehicle, previously declared a total loss, has been repaired and passed a state inspection. Rebuilt title vehicles are easier to insure than salvage title vehicles. But, they may still have high insurance premiums and limited coverage options.

Appropriate insurance is essential for several reasons:

  • Financial Protection: Covers repair costs, medical expenses, and liability in case of an accident.
  • Legal Compliance: Ensures you meet state requirements for minimum insurance coverage.
  • Peace of Mind: Provides assurance that you are protected against unforeseen events and accidents.

Target Audience

This article is aimed at individuals who are considering purchasing a car from an auto insurance auction. These potential buyers may include:

  • Bargain Hunters: Looking for a great deal on a vehicle.
  • Car Enthusiasts: Interested in restoring vehicles for personal use or resale.
  • Dealers: Seeking inventory to resell at a profit.
  • First-Time Buyers: Exploring affordable options for their first car.

They can make informed decisions. And, they can protect their investments well. How? By understanding the details of auto insurance auctions and the need for proper insurance coverage.

Understanding Auto Insurance Auctions

Why Buy from Auto Insurance Auctions?

There are several compelling reasons to consider purchasing a vehicle from an auto insurance auction:

  1. Lower Prices: One of the most attractive benefits of buying from an auto insurance auction is the potential for significant cost savings. The vehicles at these auctions sell for much less than their market value. Insurance companies write them off as total losses. This makes auctions an appealing option for buyers looking for a bargain.
  2. Diverse Options: Auto insurance auctions offer a wide variety of vehicles, including cars, trucks, SUVs, and motorcycles. This diversity helps buyers find what they want. It might be a specific make and model, a car with certain features, or a project car for restoration.
  3. Opportunity for Restoration Projects: For car enthusiasts and hobbyists, insurance auctions can be a treasure trove of vehicles that, with some work, can be restored to their former glory. This can be both a rewarding project and a cost-effective way to acquire a unique vehicle.
  4. Parts and Salvage: Even if a vehicle is not suitable for driving, it can still be valuable for its parts. Buyers can take apart these vehicles and sell the parts one by one. They often make a profit that exceeds the price they paid.

Risks Involved

Buying from auto insurance auctions has many benefits. But, buyers should be aware of several risks.

  1. Vehicle History: Cars sold at auto insurance auctions often come with a salvage or rebuilt title. This means they were badly damaged. It is essential to understand the vehicle’s history, as this can impact its future performance, safety, and insurability. Obtaining a vehicle history report is crucial to make an informed decision.
  2. Condition of the Vehicle: The vehicles sold at these auctions are typically sold “as-is.” This means there are no warranties or guarantees about their condition. This can be a significant risk, as the buyer is responsible for any repairs or issues that arise after the purchase. It is advisable to have the vehicle inspected by a professional before placing a bid.
  3. Insurance Challenges: Insuring a vehicle with a salvage or rebuilt title can be more complicated and expensive than insuring a vehicle with a clean title. Most insurance companies hesitate to offer full coverage for these vehicles. This can lead to higher premiums and limited coverage options.
  4. Resale Value: Vehicles with salvage or rebuilt titles generally have lower resale values compared to those with clean titles. This is important to consider if you plan to resell the vehicle in the future.
  5. Hidden Costs: Buying from an auction can have extra costs. These can include auction fees, transport costs, and unexpected repairs. It’s important to factor these into your budget to avoid any surprises.

By understanding the benefits and risks of auto insurance auctions, buyers can make better choices. They might also get a great deal on a vehicle that meets their needs.

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Salvage Title Insurance Coverage

What is a Salvage Title?

A salvage title is a type of vehicle title issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). It shows that an insurance company declared the car to be a total loss. This designation usually happens when the cost to repair the vehicle is more than a certain percentage of its market value.

This percentage is often around 75-80%. Vehicles can get a salvage title for many reasons. These include severe accidents, flood damage, vandalism, or theft recovery.

Implications of a Salvage Title

  1. Reduced Value: Vehicles with salvage titles are generally worth significantly less than those with clean titles.
  2. Insurance Complications: Many insurers are reluctant to provide full coverage for salvage title vehicles.
  3. Resale Challenges: Salvage title vehicles can be harder to sell and typically fetch lower prices on the market.
  4. Inspection Requirements: A salvage title vehicle cannot be driven again until it passes thorough inspections. The inspections make sure it meets safety standards.

Insurance Challenges

Difficulties in Insuring Salvage Title Vehicles

  1. Risk Perception: Insurers consider salvage title vehicles to be higher risk due to their history of significant damage. This makes them more hesitant to offer coverage.
  2. Documentation Issues: Getting detailed repair and inspection records is crucial. But, it can be hard, which further complicates the insurance process.
  3. Coverage Restrictions: Even when insurance is available, it often comes with numerous restrictions and exclusions.

Higher Premiums and Limited Coverage Options

  1. Increased Premiums: Buyers see salvage title vehicles as riskier. So, their premiums are higher than for clean title vehicles.
  2. Limited Coverage: Insurers may only offer liability insurance for salvage title vehicles, refusing to provide comprehensive or collision insurance. This leaves the vehicle owner at risk for any physical damage to the vehicle.

Obtaining Salvage Title Insurance

Steps to Insure a Salvage Title Vehicle

  1. Repair and Inspect the Vehicle: Ensure the vehicle is fully repaired and passes all necessary safety inspections. Obtain detailed documentation of all repairs.
  2. Acquire a Rebuilt Title: Once repaired, a salvage vehicle often receives a rebuilt title after passing a state inspection. This makes it somewhat easier to insure than a pure salvage title.
  3. Contact Specialized Insurers: Some insurance companies specialize in providing coverage for salvage and rebuilt title vehicles. Research and contact these insurers for quotes. Car insurance companies specializing in salvage and rebuilt title vehicles should be contacted for quotes.
  4. Prepare Documentation: Be ready to provide all repair and inspection documents, along with photos of the vehicle, to potential insurers.

Coverage Details

Typical Coverage Options Available

  1. Liability Coverage: This covers damages and injuries you cause to others in an accident. It is often the minimum required by law and the most readily available for salvage title vehicles.
  2. Comprehensive Coverage: This covers non-collision-related damage, such as theft, vandalism, and natural disasters. Insurers may be hesitant to offer this for salvage title vehicles.
  3. Collision Coverage: This covers damage to your vehicle resulting from a collision, regardless of fault. Again, this can be challenging to obtain for salvage title vehicles.

Exclusions and Limitations

  1. Limited Payouts: Comprehensive and collision coverage might be available. But, the payout for a total loss may be capped at a lower amount than for vehicles with clean titles.
  2. Higher Deductibles: Policies may come with higher deductibles, meaning you will pay more out of pocket before insurance kicks in.
  3. Coverage Restrictions: Some types of damage may be excluded from coverage. This is true particularly for damage related to the vehicle’s previous condition.
  4. Usage Limitations: Some policies may limit how you can use the vehicle, such as excluding commercial use or limiting mileage.

Understanding these aspects of salvage title insurance can help buyers. They buy auction vehicles and need to make informed decisions. It can also ensure they get enough protection for their investment.

Rebuilt Title Insurance Coverage

What is a Rebuilt Title?

A rebuilt title is issued to a vehicle. It was once declared a total loss (or salvage). But, it has since been repaired and restored to a condition deemed roadworthy by state inspection standards.

A salvage title means a vehicle is unfit for the road due to damage. In contrast, a rebuilt title means the vehicle has had needed repairs and passed inspections. This makes it fit for registration and use on public roads.

Definition and Difference from a Salvage Title

  1. Salvage Title: Issued when a vehicle is deemed a total loss by an insurance company due to severe damage. Vehicles with salvage titles are not roadworthy and cannot be legally driven until repaired and inspected.
  2. Rebuilt Title: Issued after a vehicle with a salvage title has been repaired and passed state inspections. This title means the vehicle is now roadworthy. But, it still has a history of major damage. Insuring a rebuilt title car can be easier than insuring a salvage title car, but it still comes with challenges.

Insuring a Rebuilt Title Vehicle

Easier Insurance Options Compared to Salvage Titles

Insuring a rebuilt title vehicle is generally easier than insuring a salvage title vehicle. Some insurance companies are still cautious. But, they are more likely to cover a rebuilt title vehicle. This is because it has passed inspections and is considered roadworthy. This increases the availability of insurance options compared to salvage title vehicles.

Necessary Inspections and Documentation

  1. Repair Documentation: Detailed records of all repairs made to the vehicle are essential. This includes receipts for parts and labor, as well as any warranties.
  2. State Inspections: The vehicle must pass state inspections to receive a rebuilt title. These inspections ensure that the vehicle meets safety and emissions standards.
  3. Photographic Evidence: Before-and-after photos of the vehicle can help provide proof of the extent and quality of repairs.
  4. Vehicle History Report: A full vehicle history report includes info about the damage, repairs, and inspections. It can be crucial for getting insurance.

Coverage Options

Available Insurance Types

  1. Liability Coverage: Covers damages and injuries you cause to others in an accident. It is the most basic form of insurance and often required by law.
  2. Comprehensive Coverage: Covers non-collision-related damages such as theft, vandalism, and natural disasters. Insurers are more willing to offer this coverage for rebuilt title vehicles compared to salvage title vehicles.
  3. Collision Coverage: Covers damages to your vehicle resulting from collisions, regardless of fault. This is more readily available for rebuilt title vehicles than for those with salvage titles.
  4. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Provides protection if you’re involved in an accident with a driver who lacks sufficient insurance. This is often available for rebuilt title vehicles.

Special Considerations for Rebuilt Title Vehicles

  1. Documentation Requirement: Insurers will need detailed records of repairs and inspections. They need these records to offer comprehensive and collision coverage.
  2. Inspection Contingencies: Some insurers may require a vehicle inspection before finalizing coverage.
  3. Higher Premiums: Insuring rebuilt title vehicles is easier than insuring salvage ones. But, the premiums are still typically higher than for vehicles with clean titles due to the vehicle’s history.
  4. Coverage Limitations: There may be limitations on the types of coverage available and higher deductibles may apply.

Cost Implications

Comparison of Insurance Costs for Rebuilt Versus Salvage Title Vehicles

  1. Higher Costs for Salvage Title Vehicles: Insurance for salvage title vehicles, if available, often has much higher premiums. It also has limited coverage options. Many insurers may only offer liability coverage. This makes it hard or impossible to get comprehensive and collision coverage.
  2. Rebuilt Title Vehicles: Rebuilt title vehicles still have higher insurance premiums than clean title vehicles. But, the costs are lower than those for salvage title vehicles. The availability of comprehensive and collision coverage is better, though still more expensive than for clean title cars.
  3. Factors Influencing Cost: The cost of insurance for rebuilt title vehicles can vary. It depends on factors such as the amount of the previous damage, the quality of repairs, the vehicle’s make and model, and the owner’s driving history.
  4. Potential Savings: Despite higher premiums, owning a rebuilt title vehicle can cost less. This is compared to a similar vehicle with a clean title due to the lower purchase price.

Understanding rebuilt title insurance details helps buyers make informed decisions. It also ensures they get the coverage they need to protect their investment. Having proper documentation and knowing about potential insurance challenges can help the process and provide peace of mind.

Steps to Insure Auction-Bought Vehicles

Initial Assessment

Inspecting the Vehicle and Understanding Its History

  1. Pre-Auction Inspection: Before placing a bid, it’s crucial to inspect the vehicle thoroughly. This can involve:
  • Visual Inspection: Check for visible damage, rust, or wear and tear.
  • Mechanical Inspection: If possible, bring a mechanic to assess the engine, transmission, brakes, and other critical components.
  • Certified Mechanic’s Statement: Obtain a certified mechanic’s statement to prove that the vehicle is in good condition and fully repaired, meeting the requirements of insurers for street legality and insurability.
  • Test Drive: If allowed, take the vehicle for a test drive to identify any performance issues.
  1. Vehicle History Report: Obtain a detailed vehicle history report using the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). This report can provide:
  • Information on previous accidents or damage.
  • Title status (e.g., salvage, rebuilt, clean).
  • Odometer readings and potential tampering.
  • Service and maintenance records.
  1. Damage Assessment: Understand the extent of the damage if the vehicle has a salvage or rebuilt title. This will help estimate repair costs and potential insurance premiums.

Obtaining the Title

Ensuring Proper Transfer of Ownership and Title Status

  1. Title Transfer Process: After purchasing the vehicle, ensure the title is properly transferred to your name. This involves:
    • Auction House Paperwork: Complete all required documentation provided by the auction house.
    • DMV Submission: Submit the necessary forms to your local DMV to officially transfer the title.
    • Title Type Verification: Verify whether the title is clean, salvage, or rebuilt. This will impact your ability to insure the vehicle.
  2. Title Inspection and Fees: Some states may require an additional inspection and associated fees for processing a salvage or rebuilt title.

Finding the Right Insurance Provider

Researching Providers that Specialize in Salvage and Rebuilt Title Insurance

  1. Specialized Insurers Look for insurers with experience and expertise to insure salvage or rebuilt vehicles.
  2. Comparative Shopping: Contact multiple insurance providers to compare coverage options, premiums, and policy terms. Use online tools and resources to facilitate this process.
  3. Customer Reviews: Read reviews and seek recommendations from other buyers who have insured auction-bought vehicles. This can provide insights into the insurer’s reliability and customer service.

Getting a Quote

Information Needed for an Accurate Insurance Quote

  1. Vehicle Information: Provide detailed information about the vehicle, including:
    • Make, model, and year.
    • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).
    • Mileage.
    • Current condition and any modifications or repairs.
  2. Title Status: Clearly state whether the vehicle has a clean, salvage, or rebuilt title.
  3. Repair Documentation: For rebuilt title vehicles, submit documentation of repairs and inspections. This can include:
    • Receipts for parts and labor.
    • Photos showing the vehicle before and after repairs.
    • Inspection certificates.
  4. Driver Information: Include information about the primary driver(s), such as:
    • Driving history and record.
    • Age and experience.
    • Current insurance status.

Finalizing the Insurance

Completing the Process and Ensuring Coverage is Active Before Driving

  1. Policy Selection: Choose the insurance policy that best meets your needs based on the quotes received. Consider the balance between cost and coverage.
  2. Submit Documentation: Ensure all required documentation is submitted to the insurer, including:
    • Proof of title transfer.
    • Repair and inspection records.
    • Any additional forms required by the insurance provider.
  3. Review Policy Terms: Carefully review the policy terms, conditions, and exclusions. Ensure you understand what is covered and any limitations.
  4. Payment: Pay the initial premium to activate the policy. Set up recurring payments if necessary to avoid lapses in coverage.
  5. Confirmation of Coverage: Wait for confirmation from the insurance company that the coverage is active. This may include receiving an insurance card or policy document.
  6. DMV Notification: Some states require proof of insurance before registering the vehicle. Submit the necessary proof to the DMV if applicable.

By following these steps, you can effectively insure a vehicle purchased from an auto insurance auction. This will protect you and make sure you follow the law before hitting the road.

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Tips for Buyers

Pre-Purchase Inspection

Importance of Thorough Inspections Before Buying

  1. Avoiding Hidden Costs: A thorough inspection helps identify any hidden issues that might not be immediately visible. This includes mechanical problems, damage to the structure, and cosmetic flaws. They could lead to costly repairs later.
  2. Ensuring Safety: Inspections ensure that the vehicle is safe to drive. Check important components. These include brakes, tires, lights, and airbags. Doing so can prevent accidents and ensure safety compliance.
  3. Assessing Repair Needs: Understanding the extent of damage and necessary repairs can help you decide if the vehicle is worth the investment. This is especially crucial for salvage and rebuilt title vehicles. They often need big repairs.
  4. Valuation: A detailed inspection report can help you determine the true value of the vehicle, ensuring you don’t overpay. It also aids in negotiating a better price if defects are found.
  5. Professional Inspection: Consider hiring a pro mechanic or inspection service. Do this, especially if you lack car expertise. They can provide a comprehensive assessment and uncover issues you might miss.

Understanding Auction Terms

Reading and Comprehending Auction Terms and Conditions

  1. Auction Types: Understand the different types of auctions (e.g., public, dealer-only, online) and the specific rules that apply to each. Each type may have different eligibility requirements and bidding processes.
  2. Terms of Sale: Carefully read the auction’s terms of sale, which detail the rules and regulations governing the auction. This includes payment methods, bidding procedures, and buyer responsibilities.
  3. Vehicle Condition: Understand the descriptions and disclosures provided for each vehicle. Auctions often sell vehicles “as-is.” This means there are no warranties or guarantees about the vehicle’s condition.
  4. Fees and Costs: Be aware of all fees associated with the auction, such as buyer’s premiums, registration fees, and transportation costs. These can add significantly to the overall cost of the vehicle.
  5. Return Policies: Know the auction’s return policies, if any. Most auctions do not allow returns. So, you must understand your rights and duties before buying.
  6. Bidding Strategies: Familiarize yourself with bidding strategies and set a budget before the auction. Understand how the bidding process works, including how to place bids, the increments, and how to avoid bidding wars.

Budgeting for Repairs and Insurance

Estimating Potential Repair Costs and Higher Insurance Premiums

  1. Repair Costs: Estimate the cost of repairing the vehicle based on its current condition. This includes parts, labor, and potential upgrades needed to make the vehicle roadworthy.
  • Parts and Labor: Research the cost of parts needed for repairs. Get quotes from multiple mechanics to find labor costs.
  • Unexpected Repairs: Set aside a budget for unexpected repairs that may arise after purchase, as initial inspections might not uncover all issues.
  1. Insurance Premiums: Understand that insurance for auction-bought vehicles can be expensive. This is especially true for those with salvage or rebuilt titles, unlike vehicles with clean titles. Estimating repair costs and higher insurance premiums is crucial for salvage cars.
  • Premium Comparison: Get quotes for different types of insurance, like liability, comprehensive, and collision. This will give you an idea of the potential cost.
  • Specialized Insurance: Look for insurers that specialize in insuring salvage or rebuilt title vehicles. They might offer lower rates and better coverage.
  1. Total Cost of Ownership: Combine the purchase price, estimated repair costs, and insurance premiums to get a full picture of the total cost of owning the vehicle.
  2. Financing Options: If you need financing, research loan options for salvage or rebuilt title vehicles. They may differ from traditional auto loans.

Consulting with Insurance Agents

Seeking Advice from Insurance Professionals Regarding Coverage Options

  1. Insurance Expertise: Contact insurance agents. They have experience with auction-bought vehicles. They especially know about those with salvage or rebuilt titles. Their expertise can help you navigate the complexities of insuring such vehicles.
  2. Coverage Options: Discuss the different types of coverage available and their suitability for your vehicle. This includes liability. It also includes comprehensive and collision. It also includes any extra coverage options that may help.
  3. Policy Restrictions: Inquire about any restrictions or limitations specific to salvage or rebuilt title vehicles. Understanding these can help you avoid coverage gaps and ensure you’re adequately protected.
  4. Cost Analysis: Ask the insurance agent to give a cost analysis. It should include discounts, deductibles, and payment plans. This will help you make an informed decision about the best policy for your needs.
  5. Future Considerations: Discuss future changes to your policy. For example, you could adjust premiums based on vehicle repairs or upgrades. This helps you plan for long-term ownership costs.
  6. Multiple Quotes: Request quotes from multiple insurance companies to compare coverage options and premiums. An insurance agent can help facilitate this process and provide insights into the best options available.

By following these detailed tips, buyers make informed decisions when buying vehicles from auto insurance auctions.


insurance auto auctions


Purchasing a vehicle from an auto insurance auction can be an exciting and cost-effective way to acquire a car, truck, or SUV. However, it also comes with unique challenges, particularly regarding insurance. You need the right insurance. It protects your investment and follows the law.

Auctions often sell vehicles with salvage or rebuilt titles. These titles can complicate insurance. Proper insurance not only provides financial protection in the event of an accident but also ensures peace of mind while driving.

The key steps to insuring an auction-bought vehicle are: do a thorough pre-purchase inspection. Understand the auction terms. Budget for repairs and insurance. Consult with knowledgeable agents. By following these steps, buyers can navigate the complexities of insuring auction-bought vehicles. They can make informed decisions that safeguard their investment.


Can I Get Full Coverage Insurance for a Salvage Title Car?

Securing full coverage insurance for a salvage title car can be challenging but not impossible. Insurance companies deemed salvage title cars total losses. The cars had significant damage. This makes insurers cautious about covering them comprehensively. However, a salvaged car can become eligible for full coverage insurance after obtaining a rebuilt title.

  1. Availability: Many insurers may refuse to offer full coverage. Full coverage includes both comprehensive and collision. They may refuse to cover salvage title vehicles. This is due to the higher risk from their previous damage.
  2. Limited Options: Some insurers specialize in high-risk vehicles. They may provide full coverage, but with strict conditions and higher premiums.
  3. Documentation: To improve your chances of getting full coverage, provide detailed documentation. This should include records of all repairs and inspections. It should also have before-and-after photos and receipts for parts and labor.
  4. State Regulations: Insurance availability and requirements can vary by state. Check with local insurance providers to understand the specific regulations and options in your area.

How Much More Expensive is Insurance for a Rebuilt Title Vehicle?

Insurance for a rebuilt title vehicle costs more than for a vehicle with a clean title. But, the exact cost can vary based on several factors:

  1. Higher Premiums: Rebuilt title vehicles often have higher insurance premiums. This is due to their history of serious damage and the perceived risk.
  2. Risk Assessment: Insurers assess the risk based on the extent of the previous damage, the quality of repairs, and the vehicle’s overall condition. Thorough documentation of repairs can help mitigate some of the risk.
  3. Coverage Types: The cost difference is larger for comprehensive and collision coverage. These types of coverage are more directly affected by the vehicle’s history.
  4. Comparison: On average, premiums for rebuilt title vehicles can be 20-40% higher than for clean title vehicles. However, this percentage can vary widely depending on the insurer and the specific vehicle.

What Documents are Needed to Insure a Car Bought from an Auction?

To insure a car bought from an auction, you’ll need to provide various documents to the insurance company. These documents help the insurer assess the vehicle’s history, condition, and ownership status:

  1. Vehicle Information:
    • Make, model, year, and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).
    • Current mileage.
  2. Title Documents:
    • Proof of title transfer (salvage, rebuilt, or clean title).
    • Any previous titles showing the vehicle’s history.
  3. Repair Documentation:
    • Detailed records of all repairs, including parts and labor receipts.
    • Before-and-after photos of the vehicle.
    • Inspection certificates proving the vehicle has passed necessary safety checks.
  4. Auction Paperwork:
    • Bill of sale from the auction.
    • The auction house provided extra documents. The documents detail the vehicle’s condition and history.
  5. Driver Information:
    • Driver’s license.
    • Driving history and record.
    • Current insurance status, if applicable.
  6. Insurance Application:
    • Completed insurance application form with all required details about the vehicle and driver.

By picking the right insurance and giving them all the details, you can get the coverage for your auction-bought vehicle ensuring you are well protected on the road.

Andrew Filar

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