We get a lot of people asking us “does car insurance cover catalytic converter theft?
Catalytic converter thefts are skyrocketing. From 2019 to 2022, catalytic converter theft incidents increased by 1,215%, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
What’s driving the crime wave? Mostly, it’s the increase in spot prices for palladium, platinum, and rhodium – three precious metals that catalytic converters use to interact with vehicle exhaust to make vehicle emissions less toxic and damaging to the environment.
Catalytic converters have been mandatory in the United States on all gas-powered cars since the model year 1975.
A catalytic converter consists of a honeycomb of narrow tubes, located on the underside of the car between the engine and the car tailpipe.
The converter tubes are coated with high-value precious metals, specifically rhodium, palladium, and platinum. These metals interact with the car exhaust and with oxygen to convert engine emissions from dangerous carbon monoxide to relatively harmless carbon dioxide.
The Value of Catalytic Converter Precious Metals
The problem: The values of these metals have skyrocketed in recent years.
As of this writing in late January 2023, the spot prices of these rare precious metals per troy ounce are as follows.
(You can click the links to find the current spot prices at the time you’re reading this).
In practice, thieves can usually collect a few hundred dollars for each catalytic converter they can steal. However, catalytic converters for hybrid vehicles can sell for $1,200 to $1,400 in some areas. And with the right tools, it takes less than two minutes to cut out a catalytic converter and get away.
But the repair bills catalytic converter theft victims face are much larger than the thieves’ profits: Replacing a stolen catalytic converter routinely costs between $1,000 and $3,000.
Don’t expect to just go down to a junkyard and pull a converter from a like-model car: Junkyard owners typically strip any of them out right away for quick cash. Chances are you’ll need to order a catalytic converter from the manufacturer.
Does Car Insurance Cover Catalytic Converter Theft?
Your car insurance policy may cover catalytic converter theft if you purchased comprehensive coverage for your car. These policies will cover you if your vehicle is stolen, damaged, or destroyed by theft, vandalism, natural disaster, pests, or another hazard other than a collision with another object. Catalytic converter theft falls under theft and vandalism, and if you have comprehensive coverage, your policy will cover you up to the limits of your policy.
Comprehensive coverage will cover the cost of the part, the labor to replace it, and the cost of repairing any other damage the criminals caused while they were removing your catalytic converter.
Your settlement will be reduced by the amount of the deductible you have on your policy.
For example: If your catalytic converter is stolen, and it will cost $2,500 to replace it and repair any other damage the thieves caused, and you have a $1,000 deductible, your car insurance company will pay out up to $1,500 to make good on your loss. That’s $2,500 minus your $1,000 deductible.
However, if all you purchased was liability coverage, or if all you on is your state minimum coverage policy.
What Vehicles Are Most Targeted By Catalytic Converter Thieves?
Thieves tend to prefer trucks and SUVs that are mounted relatively high off the ground. It’s easy to crawl under these cars and get out quickly, and there’s no need to jack them up.
Thieves also like older cars because their catalytic converters typically have more precious metal content compared to the converters on newer models. Cars with suspension lifts and oversized tires/wheels are also vulnerable.
Hybrid cars run cooler than gas-powered cars. So their catalytic converters must contain more metal to create the necessary chemical reaction to clean the exhaust. They are frequently targeted for theft as well.
According to research from CARFAX, these are the vehicle models most likely to have their catalytic converters stolen, nationwide.
- 1985-2021 Ford F-Series
- 1989-2020 Honda Accord
- 2007-17 Jeep Patriot
- 1990-2022 Ford Econoline
- 1999-2021 Chevrolet Silverado
- 2005-21 Chevrolet Equinox
- 1997-2020 Honda CR-V
- 1987-2019 Toyota Camry
- 2011-17 Chrysler 200
- 2001-21 Toyota Prius
How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft
Have a vendor etch your converter with your VIN (vehicle identification number). Most muffler shops and many other auto repair shops offer this service.
At night, park your car in a secure or well-lit area with security cameras, if possible.
Install a protective cage around your catalytic converter. This makes it much more time-consuming to steal your car’s catalytic converter, and hence much riskier. When a would-be thief sees a protective cage around the converter, many of them won’t chance getting discovered under the vehicle and move on to an easier and safer target.
Set your car alarm to detect vibration.
Park very close to the wall or the curb, with your tailpipe side closest to the curb. This makes it that much more difficult for thieves to get in and out from under your vehicle.
Get Comprehensive Coverage
If catalytic converter thefts are active in your area (hint: They are!), you should get comprehensive coverage on your car.
Don’t wait to become a victim. Catalytic converter theft is increasing fast, and there’s no end in sight.
Besides, adding comprehensive coverage to your car insurance policy covers you against a lot of other hazards, too, not just catalytic converter theft.
And it costs less than you think!
The best way to add comprehensive coverage to your car is to use an independent car insurance agency – not a captive one – to help you compare rates from many different competing car insurance companies. So you know you aren’t getting gouged, and you can be confident that you’re getting a fair price and a good value from your car insurance policy.
See you on the road!
Steve “Mr. Insurance” Ludwig