Here in CA, we sell them through Copart. In order to bid, the buyers must be registered with Copart and have a dismantlers license.
Most insurance carriers use the 70% rule which means if the cost of collision/mechanical repairs is 70%, or more, of the vehicle's ACV (actual cash value), then it's totalled. While some of the cars are rebuildable and subsequently sold under a Salvage title, most of the cars become parts donors. There have been some awesome deals that come from total loss salvage buys because of the hourly rate and cost of OEM parts that drive the cost of collision repairs upwards. For a DIYer, it can be pretty good.
Copart is located all over the US and google them for more information.
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