I don't buy it either. Insurance companies don't total vehicles for "mostly cosmetic" damage. Not unless the vehicle's pre-crash value is extremely low. Usually the threshold is when the salvage value plus repair costs exceed the retail value.
A salvage title will also cause you insurance headaches -- you'll probably need to get it inspected, and some insurance companies won't touch it at all, even for liability.
There are plenty of non-salvaged vans out there.
1990 E-250 Sportsmobile w/ penthouse top, converted when new by SMB Texas.