The owner of a set of registration plates may surrender them to the commissioner together with the registration card and, upon the payment of five dollars as an exchange fee and upon the payment of such additional fees as are necessary to equalize the value of the plates surrendered with the value of registration plates desired, receive in exchange a set of plates and registration card for a vehicle of a different class.
A transferee shall at the same time present the certificate of title endorsed and assigned as hereinbefore provided to the department and make application for and obtain a new certificate of title for such vehicle, except as otherwise permitted in sections four and five of this article.
When the transferee of a vehicle does not drive such vehicle or permit it to be driven upon the highways, such transferee shall not be required to obtain a new registration of said vehicle, but such transferee shall be required within sixty days from the date of such transfer to forward the certificate of title to the department accompanied by an application for a new certificate of title in his name.
Whenever the title or interest of an owner in or to a registered vehicle shall pass to another otherwise than by voluntary transfer, the registration thereof shall expire and the vehicle shall not be operated upon the highways unless and until the person entitled to possession of such vehicle shall apply for and obtain the registration thereof, except that such vehicle may be operated by the person entitled to its possession or his legal representative upon the highways for a distance not exceeding seventy-five miles upon displaying upon such vehicle the registration plates issued to the former owner, or in the event title has become vested in the person holding a lien or encumbrance upon said vehicle, such person may apply to the department for and obtain special plates as may be issued under this chapter to dealers or others and may operate any said repossessed vehicle under such special plates only for purposes of transporting the same to a garage or warehouse or for purposes of demonstrating or selling the same: Provided, That the commissioner is authorized to transfer the plates and registration of a deceased person to his legal heir or legatee without payment of any fee and the legal heir or legatee may keep and use the same license plate until it regularly expires.
Upon any transfer the new owner may secure a new registration and certificate of title upon proper application and upon presentation of the last certificate of title, if available, and such instruments or documents of authority or certified copies thereof as may be sufficient or required by law to evidence or effect a transfer of title or interest in or to chattels in such case. In the event title has become vested in the person or financial institution holding a lien or encumbrance upon said vehicle, such person or institution need not obtain a new registration of said vehicle or forward the certificate of title to the department in order to sell the vehicle, but the person or institution upon transfer of title or interest to another shall execute and acknowledge an assignment and warranty of title upon the certificate of title and deliver the same not later than sixty days from the date of sale to the purchaser. The person or institution holding a lien or encumbrance upon the vehicle who acquires the vehicle as a result of the lien or encumbrance and subsequently, within sixty days, sells the vehicle in satisfaction of the debt creating the lien or encumbrance, shall not be subject to any privilege tax or personal property tax on the vehicle imposed by any other section.
The department shall retain and appropriately file every surrendered certificate of title, such file to be so maintained as to permit the tracing of title of the vehicles designated therein.
(a) In the event a motor vehicle is determined to be a total loss or otherwise designated as totaled by an insurance company or insurer, and upon payment of a total loss claim to an insured or claimant owner for the purchase of the vehicle, the insurance company or the insurer, as a condition of the payment, shall require the owner to surrender the certificate of title: Provided, That an insured or claimant owner may choose to retain physical possession and ownership of a total loss vehicle. If the vehicle owner chooses to retain the vehicle and the vehicle has not been determined to be a cosmetic total loss in accordance with subsection (d) of this section, the insurance company or insurer shall also require the owner to surrender the vehicle registration certificate. The term "total loss" means a motor vehicle which has sustained damages equivalent to seventy-five percent or more of the market value as determined by a nationally accepted used car value guide or meets the definition of a flood-damaged vehicle as defined in this section.
(b) The insurance company or insurer shall, prior to the payment of the total loss claim, determine if the vehicle is repairable, cosmetically damaged or nonrepairable. Within ten days of payment of the total loss claim, the insurance company or insurer shall surrender the certificate of title, a copy of the claim settlement, a completed application on a form prescribed by the commissioner and the registration certificate if the owner has chosen to keep the vehicle to the Division of Motor Vehicles.
(c) If the insurance company or insurer determines that the vehicle is repairable, the division shall issue a salvage certificate, on a form prescribed by the commissioner, in the name of the insurance company, the insurer or the vehicle owner if the owner has chosen to retain the vehicle. The certificate shall contain, on the reverse, spaces for one successive assignment before a new certificate at an additional fee is required. Upon the sale of the vehicle, the insurance company, insurer or vehicle owner if the owner has chosen to retain the vehicle, shall complete the assignment of ownership on the salvage certificate and deliver it to the purchaser. The vehicle may not be titled or registered for operation on the streets or highways of this state unless there is compliance with subsection (g) of this section. The division shall charge a fee of $15 for each salvage title issued.
(d) If the insurance company or insurer determines the damage to a totaled vehicle is exclusively cosmetic and no repair is necessary in order to legally and safely operate the motor vehicle on the roads and highways of this state, the insurance company or insurer shall, upon payment of the claim, submit the certificate of title to the division. Neither the insurance company nor the division may require the vehicle owner to surrender the registration certificate in the event of a cosmetic total loss settlement.
(1) The division shall, without further inspection, issue a title branded "cosmetic total loss" to the insured or claimant owner if the insured or claimant owner wishes to retain possession of the vehicle, in lieu of a salvage certificate. The division shall charge a fee of $5 for each cosmetic total loss title issued. The terms "cosmetically damaged" and "cosmetic total loss" do not include any vehicle which has been damaged by flood or fire. The designation "cosmetic total loss" on a title may not be removed.
(2) If the insured or claimant owner elects not to take possession of the vehicle and the insurance company or insurer retains possession, the division shall issue a cosmetic total loss salvage certificate to the insurance company or insurer. The division shall charge a fee of $15 for each cosmetic total loss salvage certificate issued. The division shall, upon surrender of the cosmetic total loss salvage certificate issued under the provisions of this paragraph and payment of the five percent motor vehicle sales tax on the fair market value of the vehicle as determined by the commissioner, issue a title branded "cosmetic total loss" without further inspection.
(e) If the insurance company or insurer determines that the damage to a totaled vehicle renders it nonrepairable, incapable of safe operation for use on roads and highways and as having no resale value except as a source of parts or scrap, the insurance company or vehicle owner shall, in the manner prescribed by the commissioner, request that the division issue a nonrepairable motor vehicle certificate in lieu of a salvage certificate. The division shall issue a nonrepairable motor vehicle certificate without charge.
(f) Any owner who scraps, compresses, dismantles or destroys a vehicle without further transfer or sale for which a certificate of title, nonrepairable motor vehicle certificate or salvage certificate has been issued shall, within forty-five days, surrender the certificate of title, nonrepairable motor vehicle certificate or salvage certificate to the division for cancellation.
(g) Any person who purchases or acquires a vehicle as salvage or scrap, to be dismantled, compressed or destroyed, shall, within forty-five days, surrender to the division the certificate of title, nonrepairable motor vehicle certificate, salvage certificate or a statement of cancellation signed by the seller, on a form prescribed by the commissioner. Subsequent purchasers of salvage or scrap are not required to comply with the notification requirement.
(h) If the motor vehicle is a "reconstructed vehicle" as defined in this section or section one, article one of this chapter, it may not be titled or registered for operation until it has been inspected by an official state inspection station and by the Division of Motor Vehicles. Following an approved inspection, an application for a new certificate of title may be submitted to the division. The applicant is required to retain all receipts for component parts, equipment and materials used in the reconstruction. The salvage certificate shall also be surrendered to the division before a certificate of title may be issued with the appropriate brand.
(I) The owner or title holder of a motor vehicle titled in this state which has previously been branded in this state or another state as salvage, reconstructed, cosmetic total loss, cosmetic total loss salvage, flood, fire, an equivalent term under another state's laws or a term consistent with the intent of the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System established pursuant to 49 U. S. C.§30502 shall, upon becoming aware of the brand, apply for and receive a title from the Division of Motor Vehicles on which the brand "reconstructed", "salvage", "cosmetic total loss", "cosmetic total loss salvage", "flood", "fire" or other brand is shown. The division shall charge a fee of $5 for each title so issued.
(j) If application is made for title to a motor vehicle, the title to which has previously been branded reconstructed, salvage, cosmetic total loss, cosmetic total loss salvage, flood, fire or other brand by the Division of Motor Vehicles under this section and said application is accompanied by a title from another state which does not carry the brand, the division shall, before issuing the title, affix the brand "reconstructed", "cosmetic total loss", "cosmetic total loss salvage", "flood", "fire" or other brand to the title. The motor vehicle sales tax paid on a motor vehicle titled as reconstructed, cosmetic total loss, flood, fire or other brand under the provisions of this section shall be based on fifty percent of the fair market value of the vehicle as determined by a nationally accepted used car value guide to be used by the commissioner.
(k) The division shall charge a fee of $15 for the issuance of each salvage certificate or cosmetic total loss salvage certificate but shall not require the payment of the five percent motor vehicle sales tax. However, upon application for a certificate of title for a reconstructed, cosmetic total loss, flood or fire damaged vehicle or other brand, the division shall collect the five percent privilege tax on the fair market value of the vehicle as determined by the commissioner unless the applicant is otherwise exempt from the payment of such privilege tax. A wrecker/dismantler/rebuilder, licensed by the division, is exempt from the payment of the five percent privilege tax upon titling a reconstructed vehicle. The division shall collect a fee of $35 per vehicle for inspections of reconstructed vehicles. These fees shall be deposited in a special fund created in the State Treasurer's Office and may be expended by the division to carry out the provisions of this article: Provided, That on and after July 1, 2007, any balance in the special fund and all fees collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited in the State Road Fund. Licensed wreckers/dismantlers/rebuilders may charge a fee not to exceed $25 for all vehicles owned by private rebuilders which are inspected at the place of business of a wrecker/dismantler/rebuilder.
(l) As used in this section:
(1) "Reconstructed vehicle" means the vehicle was totaled under the provisions of this section or by the provisions of another state or jurisdiction and has been rebuilt in accordance with the provisions of this section or in accordance with the provisions of another state or jurisdiction or meets the provisions of subsection (m), section one, article one of this chapter.
(2) "Flood-damaged vehicle" means that the vehicle was submerged in water to the extent that water entered the passenger or trunk compartment.
(3) "Other brand" means a brand consistent with the intent of the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System established pursuant to 49 U. S. C. §30502 and rules promulgated by the United States Department of Justice to alert consumers, motor vehicle dealers or the insurance industry of the history of a vehicle.
(m) Every vehicle owner shall comply with the branding requirements for a totaled vehicle whether or not the owner receives an insurance claim settlement for a totaled vehicle.
(n) A certificate of title issued by the division for a reconstructed vehicle shall contain markings in bold print on the face of the title that it is for a reconstructed, flood- or fire- damaged vehicle.
(o) Any person who knowingly provides false or fraudulent information to the division that is required by this section in an application for a title, a cosmetic total loss title, a reconstructed vehicle title or a salvage certificate or who knowingly fails to disclose to the division information required by this section to be included in the application or who otherwise violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall for each incident be fined not less than $1,000 nor more than $2,500, or imprisoned in jail for not more than one year, or both fined and imprisoned.
Acts, 1970 Reg. Sess., Ch. 56.
Acts, 1970 Reg. Sess., Ch. 56.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2016 Regular Session
The West Virginia Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.