If you recently had your catalytic converter stolen you might be wondering, is catalytic converter theft covered by your auto insurance policy?
Possibly. It depends on your car insurance policy.
Because policies can differ across companies, states, and countries, it is best to read your policy and contact your insurance agent or claims center to make sure you are covered before taking your car in for an expensive repair.
Repairs can range anywhere from $450 all the way up to $3000 USD for the more expensive hybrid cars.
Catalytic converter thefts are rising
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), stolen car parts and more specifically, catalytic converter theft is on the rise. The NICB reports a tenfold increase in catalytic converter thefts in the last three years alone.
Stolen catalytic converters are mostly stolen and sold for scrap as they contain precious metals. These precious metals are used to reduce toxic emissions. We recently wrote an article on why catalytic converters are so popular among thieves and why catalytic converters are targeted and theft is skyrocketing.
Within 1-2 minutes, thieves can cut away your catalytic converter from your exhaust system and be off to the next victim. They don’t even have to enter your locked vehicle to do so.
So while we tend to think about protecting our vehicle from car theft, or our personal belongings, many thieves target catalytic converters making it easy to overlook until you go start your car and hear the roaring sound of a loud exhaust system.
And catalytic converter thieves often go undetected. For the average person passing by, it looks like someone working on their vehicle. Many thefts occur in plain daylight and on busy streets and public parking lots.
What is comprehensive insurance?
Comprehensive coverage is offered by your auto insurance company and covers damage to your vehicle when an accident is not involved.
A comprehensive claim can be made for things like car theft, vandalism, or weather damage. This is in contrast to collision coverage which covers the vehicle during an accident.
Most finance companies will require you to carry comprehensive coverage as long as there is a loan or lease on your vehicle. Your finance company will want to protect their interest until your financial obligation is covered. You may also decide to carry comprehensive insurance when there is value in the car that outweighs the cost of insurance.
If you have comprehensive coverage, chances are very high that your vehicle is covered.
If in doubt, please check with your insurance agent or your auto policy to see if your plan includes comprehensive coverage.
If your catalytic converter was stolen, you can file an insurance claim on your comprehensive insurance coverage to help replace your stolen catalytic converter. Usually, it kicks in once you have paid the deductible portion.
Steps for filing a claim with your insurance company to replace your stolen catalytic converter
If your catalytic converter has been stolen, the first step is to file a police report. In most cases, a police report will be needed to file a claim or will be needed as part of the claims process before you receive compensation.
Your next step is to contact your insurance companies claim center or your agent for further direction on the steps needed. First, they will verify that your vehicle is covered by insurance, inform you of your deductible and what further steps are needed to get your repair paid for. In some cases, you may be eligible for a rental car if your insurance covers it.
How to avoid being a victim of catalytic converter theft
A catalytic converter theft can happen in as little as 60-90 seconds. And if you have been a victim once, chances are you may be targeted again if your catalytic converter was stolen at home or work. Once your catalytic converter has been replaced, thieves sometimes come back and target the very same cars.
This can be problematic because some insurance companies may drop your insurance with repeated claims, or charge increased rates. Not to mention the hassle of dealing with the situation.
Just to show you how quickly thieves can remove one, here is a short video of a real theft taking place:
Popular targets are typically hybrid vehicles that contain catalytic converters with higher emissions standards, import vehicles, or SUVs since the catalytic converter can be more easily accessed.
The Toyota Prius tops the list of popular cars. Unfortunately, they are also the most expensive to repair.
If you drive a Prius or other hybrid vehicle you should take precautions to prevent catalytic converter theft on your vehicle.
Some manufacturers like Honda have designed their cars since 2008 to make the catalytic converter harder to access since it is recessed up underneath the car, but it still isn’t foolproof for an experienced thief. These cars are also less likely to be targeted.
Preventive steps include installing protective guards or cages, parking your vehicle inside your garage if you have one available, and parking in well-lit areas or under street lights.
A car alarm and security cameras can also deter thieves, but as you can see from the above video, a video camera did not deter these thieves.
Some people will recommend etching or engraving your vehicle identification number (VIN number) and license plate number on your converter, but that does not deter the theft as much as making it harder for the thieves to sell it later and even then, that part may be removed because what they are really after is the valuable metals inside. If you are going to etch your VIN and/or license plate, you can follow our complete guide on how to etch your catalytic converter here.
Overall the best way to protect your vehicle is to add aftermarket catalytic converter cages and covers but expect to spend about $100-$160 for each protected vehicle.