Does Auto Insurance Cover Catalytic Converter Theft?

Catalytic converters are easy to steal due to their location and contain valuable metals such as platinum, rhodium, and palladium. The theft often goes unnoticed until the vehicle is started, giving thieves an opportunity to escape without being noticed. Motorists with comprehensive auto insurance coverage can typically file a claim for catalytic converter theft and related damages, but they would need to pay the deductible out of pocket.

The cost of replacing a stolen catalytic converter can range from $1,000 to $2,000, and having a deductible of $1,000 may make it impractical to file a claim for some policyholders. Making a claim for a stolen catalytic converter can potentially lead to an increase in vehicle insurance premiums during the next renewal, even if the policyholder was not at fault. Additionally, liability-only car insurance policies do not cover physical damages to the vehicle, regardless of the cause.

What to Do After Discovering the Theft?

When discovering the theft, it is recommended to report the crime to the police and obtain a police report to support an insurance claim. Getting multiple quotes for replacement and repairs is advisable, and insurers may approve the claim based on estimates without further investigation. Policyholders can then submit the claim with the estimates and police report and wait for a response from their insurance providers.

Why Thieves Steal Catalytic Converters

Catalytic converters serve as emission control devices, effectively reducing pollutants in exhaust gases. They achieve this by combining carbon monoxide with oxygen to convert it into less harmful carbon dioxide. These converters contain valuable metals like platinum, rhodium, and palladium, which aid in the conversion process. In some newer automobiles, there may even be traces of gold present.

In recent times, the prices of these precious metals have significantly risen due to shortages. As a result, incidents of catalytic converter theft have surged by 5 to 6 times in the past two years. These thefts are relatively easy for criminals since the catalytic converter is situated beneath the vehicle near the exhaust system. By accessing the underside of the vehicle, thieves can swiftly remove the converter in a matter of minutes, even if the vehicle is locked.

Furthermore, identifying the stolen part is extremely challenging, and thieves often go undetected. The vehicle owner typically becomes aware of the theft only after starting the engine, as the absence of the catalytic converter becomes noticeable at that point.

Popular Cars for Catalytic Converter Thefts

SUVs and trucks are particularly vulnerable to catalytic converter theft for two primary reasons. Firstly, their elevated ground clearance provides ample space for thieves to crawl underneath, swiftly access the converter, and make a quick getaway. Secondly, these vehicles often feature larger engines, resulting in a higher concentration of precious metals within the converters, making them more enticing targets.

Older model cars tend to contain a greater amount of precious metals due to their outdated technology. Additionally, experienced mechanics can effortlessly raise these vehicles using a jack, allowing them easy access to the undercarriage.

Hybrid cars, designed with a strong emphasis on cleaner emissions, generally possess more valuable catalytic converters. Among hybrids, the Toyota Prius is a common target due to its widespread availability and the higher worth of its converters.

Luxury cars not only tend to have more valuable converters but may also feature dual engines, which means they have two converters. Consequently, targeting these vehicles can yield significant profits for thieves.

How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

Backing the car all the way to the wall can make it harder for a thief without a jack to get under it. Also, parking vehicles with low ground clearance outside of SUVs and Trucks can prevent them reaching the part with easier access. The whole purpose is to make them a harder target to get to.

Installing grills or cages over catalytic converters or having an alarm that will go off as a result of the shaking and force used to get the part may help. Using the garage would be the ultimate solution, if you have one. The police advise motorists to edge their VIN number on it or paint it bright color so that scrap yards know the catalytic converter may be stolen and contact the police.

When a catalytic converter is stolen, motorists would likely notice the difference immediately upon starting the engine. The car would be noisier, emit stronger odors, smoke may be visible, and the vehicle’s performance may be affected, causing jerky acceleration and a lack of smoothness.

If motorists discover the theft, it is advisable to visit the nearest garage for repairs or contact a recovery service for towing assistance, depending on the membership level.