Virginia Lost Title Bond: A Comprehensive Guide
September 28, 2021
This guide provides information for insurance agents to help their customers obtain a Virginia Lost Title Bond
At a Glance:
- Average Cost: Minimum of $100 or 1.5% of the bond amount, whichever is greater
- Bond Amount: The watercraft’s value plus an additional 20%
- Who Needs it: Watercraft title applicants in Virginia who do not have adequate proof of ownership
- Purpose: To ensure the rightful watercraft owner does not suffer financial harm if the title applicant does not actually own the watercraft
- Who Regulates Lost Title Bonds In Virginia: The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
Virginia statute 29.1-733.21 requires residents who do not have adequate proof that they own their watercraft to purchase a surety bond prior to obtaining a duplicate title. The Virginia legislature enacted the bonding requirement to ensure that the rightful watercraft owner will receive compensation if the title applicant does not actually own the watercraft. The bond will be active for three years from the date of issuance and must be in an amount equal to the watercraft’s value plus an additional 20%. Virginia only issues bonded titles for watercrafts, not vehicles or mobile homes.
What is the Purpose of the Virginia Lost Title Bond?
Virginia requires residents to purchase a surety bond as part of the application process to obtain a bonded title. The bond ensures that the rightful watercraft owner will not suffer a financial loss if the title applicant is seeking to obtain the title fraudulently. If the title applicant is engaging in fraud, then the rightful watercraft owner can file a claim against the bond and receive compensation up to the full amount of the bond. In short, the bond acts as a safeguard against people attempting to obtain ownership of a watercraft through unethical means.
How Can an Insurance Agent Obtain a Virginia Lost Title Bond?
BondExchange makes obtaining a Virginia Lost Title Bond easy. Simply log in to your account and use our keyword search to find the “title” bond in our database. Don’t have a login? Enroll now and let us help you satisfy your customers’ needs. Our friendly underwriting staff is available by phone at (800) 438-1162, email, or chat from 7:30 AM to 7:00 PM EST to assist you.
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How is the Bond Amount Determined?
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries dictates that the bond amount must be equal to the watercraft’s value plus an additional 20%. To determine the watercraft’s value, title applicants can utilize the Kelly Blue Book or the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) guide.
Is a Credit Check Required for the Virginia Lost Title Bond?
Surety companies will not conduct a credit check for bonds that are less than $25,000. At limits over $25,000, surety companies will review the applicant’s credit standing to determine qualification for the bond. For larger bond amounts, applicants with poor credit may be subject to a higher rate. Generally, most carriers want to understand how the applicant came to have ownership of the watercraft.
How Much Does the Virginia Lost Title Bond Cost?
The Virginia Lost Title Bond costs either $100 or 1.5% of the bond amount, whichever is greater (rates may vary for bonds greater than $25,000).
Who is Required to Purchase a Bond?
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries requires title applicants to purchase a surety bond if the applicant cannot present the department with tangible proof that they own the watercraft and are unable to contact the watercraft’s previous owner. Lost title bonds are typically required for the following reasons:
- The watercraft has never been titled
- The applicant never received the title
- The previous owner never titled the watercraft
- The applicant has the title but there is an error in the title transfer
- The applicant purchased an unclaimed/abandoned watercraft and is not a bonded agent
Watercrafts with a value of less than $5,000 are ineligible for a bonded title.
How do Virginia Residents Obtain a Bonded Title?
To apply for a bonded title, Virginia residents must complete the following steps:
Step 1 – Contact the DWR
Bonded title applicants in Virginia should contact the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) prior to purchasing a surety bond. Virginia does not require all title applicants to obtain a bonded title, and usually only does so as an absolute last resort if the applicant cannot contact the watercraft’s previous owner. Title applicants should ensure that they actually need a bond before purchasing one. Bonded title applicants will need to contact the watercraft’s previous owner or active lienholder(s) by certified mail. If no response is received within 45 days, the applicant may apply for a bonded title.
Step 2 – Purchase a Surety Bond
Once the DWR determines the applicant needs a bonded title, the applicant must purchase and maintain a surety bond in an amount equal to the watercraft’s fair market value plus an additional 20%.
Step 3 – Complete the Application
All Virginia bonded title applications should be mailed to the following address:
Department of Wildlife Resources
P.O. Box 9930
Henrico, VA 23228
Applicants must complete the application in its entirety, and submit the following items:
- If the watercraft was previously titled in another state, a copy of the record from that state
- All certified mail sent to the watercraft’s previous owner and any active lienholder(s)
- Canceled check or bill of sale obtained when purchasing the watercraft
- Lien release letter (if applicable)
- Any responses received from the previous owner
How Do Virginia Bonded Title Applicants File Their Bond?
In Virginia, bonded title applicants should mail the completed bond form, including the power of attorney, to the following address:
Department of Wildlife Resources
P.O. Box 9930
Henrico, VA 23228
The Virginia Lost Title Surety Bond requires signatures from both the surety company that issues the bond and the bonded title applicant. The surety company should include the following information on the bond form:
- The legal name of entity/individual(s) buying the bond
- Surety company’s name and location
- Bond amount
- Reason for purchasing the bond
- Date the bond goes into effect
- Date the bond is signed
What Are the Insurance Requirements for Bonded Title Applicants in Virginia?
Virginia does not require watercraft owners to purchase any form of liability insurance. Bonded title applicants must purchase and maintain a surety bond in an amount equal to the watercraft’s fair market value plus an additional 20%.
How Can Virginia Residents Avoid Claims Against Their Lost Title Bond?
To avoid claims against their bond, bonded title applicants in Virginia must ensure that they are the rightful owners of the watercraft.
What Other Insurance Products Can Agents Offer Bonded Title Applicants in Virginia?
Virginia does not require watercraft owners to purchase any form of liability insurance. However, the vast majority of watercraft owners will seek to obtain this insurance anyway. Bonds are our only business at BondExchange, so we do not issue other types of insurance, but our agents often utilize brokers for this specific line of business. A list of brokers in this space can be found here.