A catalytic converter is an important piece of equipment placed between the engine and the muffler on the car’s underside, responsible for reducing harmful emissions.
It acts as an oxidation/deoxidation site for emissions such as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and other hydrocarbons, where they get converted into less harmful emissions like Co2, vapor, and Nitrogen gas.
A catalytic converter has a ceramic honeycomb structure coated with precious metals such as platinum, rhodium, and palladium, which is where the pollutants get converted into safer emissions.
However, the presence of these precious metals gives rise to a new problem.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, in the United States, the theft of catalytic converters rose by an astonishing 425 percent, from 3, 389 in 2019 to 14, 433 in 2020. It’s one of the most stolen parts of a car.
The replacement cost of a catalytic converter for most cars ranges from $945 to $2475, including parts and labor; however, it could be more for some vehicles.
The amount could be what your car is worth or more. So, it is important to know if your auto insurance policy will cover it.
Table Of Contents
- Does Insurance Cover Catalytic Converter Theft?
- Why Should I Buy Comprehensive Coverage?
- Why Are Catalytic Converters Stolen?
- Are There Any Specific Vehicles That Thieves Target?
- What Do I Do About a Stolen Catalytic Convertor?
- Tips To Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft? Conclusion
Does Insurance Cover Catalytic Converter Theft?
Yes, catalytic convertor theft is covered by insurance, provided you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle insurance policy. However, you will need to pay a deductible when filing a claim.
For example, if the cost to replace your stolen catalytic convertor is $2000 and your deductible is $500, the auto insurance policy will pay $1500 (repair cost minus your deductible), while you pay $500.
Comprehensive coverage insures your vehicle and its parts against damage/ theft due to non-collision events. This includes things like:
- Glass and windshield damage.
- Accidents with animals.
- Bad weather and other acts of nature.
So, comprehensive coverage will pay for replacing your catalytic converter and related damages.
Note: For leased or financed cars, the lender will mandate comprehensive coverage; however, if you have full ownership of your vehicle, this is optional.
Why Should I Buy Comprehensive Coverage?
Legislations in most developed countries, including the U.S. and the U.K, are such that it is unlawful to run a vehicle without a catalytic convertor. This can result in fines and penalties you not be able to afford.
Also, in case of theft, which, as previously mentioned, is on the rise, you are better off with an insured catalytic convertor than having to pay out of pocket, which, as stated previously, can run into a few thousand dollars.
However, the coverage has a limit, which is typically the cash value of your vehicle at the time.
So, even though comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy is not mandatory, depending on the cash value of your car or if you are incapable of paying repair/ replacement costs out of pocket, this is a smart option.
Why Are Catalytic Converters Stolen?
The biggest motivator of catalytic convertor theft is the precious metal coating. According to experts, the rise in the prices of these metals has a direct relation to increasing thefts.
According to Kitco.com, at the time of writing this post, rhodium’s price per ounce is $19,500, palladium goes for around $ 2,500 per ounce, while platinum’s price per ounce is just under $1,000.
Naturally, money is to be made by selling them to scrap metal or recycling facilities.
Also, catalytic converters are easily accessible from under the vehicle, making them easier to steal. So, in an unmonitored space, tens of catalytic convertors get stolen in a short period.
Furthermore, due to the disruptions in the supply chain due to the pandemic, dealers cannot obtain replacement catalytic convertors legally, making way for black markets.
Are There Any Specific Vehicles That Thieves Target?
Even though almost all cars have catalytic converters, some are more prone to theft than others.
There is more metal to salvage in older models since the technology wasn’t anywhere near what it is now; thus, they have more metals in their converters.
On the other hand, new car models mean less wear and tear, meaning better condition metals.
Hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius, Honda Jazz, Lexus RX, and Toyota RX see their catalytic convertors used much less than regular cars, meaning easily salvageable metal.
Another aspect favored by thieves is the vehicle’s construction. A vehicle (such as SUV, pickup truck, delivery vehicle, etc.) with a high ground clearance will be easy to get under and access the catalytic convertor.
Furthermore, the installation of the catalytic converter itself factors in. While some are bolt-on, others are welded to the vehicles. Naturally, bolt-on catalytic converters are easier to remove.
What Do I Do About a Stolen Catalytic Convertor?
When your vehicle runs without a catalytic convertor, the link between your engine and the muffler is broken, making it louder than usual. You will also experience a lack of acceleration and responsiveness from your car.
As your vehicle isn’t refining the emissions anymore, the exhaust from the car produces an unpleasant smell. If this happens, check the underside of the car to confirm. Take your vehicle to a mechanic for an inspection.
A police report is required when filling out the insurance claim. So, contact the local authorities as soon as you discover the theft. Next, contact the insurance company and file the claim.
Tips To Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft? Conclusion
Parking smartly will save you lots of money and headaches. Parking in garages is your best bet; however, it is not always possible.
Try to park in driveways and areas that are well lit and/ or have security cameras. At home, you can use motion-triggered lights.
Also, see if you can park against a wall with the exhaust as close to the wall as possible. This will make it hard to steal your catalytic converter.
You can have your convertor engraved with your vehicle identification number, driving license number, or phone number so that it discourages buyers and is easy to trace.
You can use your car alarm system and turn up its sensitivity. Some alarms will go off when your car is tilted, i.e., jacked-up by the thieves.
Also, a motion-sensitive camera is a great way to get notified of theft or trace the getaway vehicle of the perpetrators.
Using catalytic convertor anti-theft devices such as steel shields, cages, or steel cables, will discourage thieves.