Is Catalytic Converter Theft Covered by Insurance?
Last Updated on August 7, 2022
Catalytic converter thefts have increased to record highs in recent years. If your catalytic converter has been stolen, then it may be covered by insurance.
Depending on your coverage options, you may receive compensation for catalytic converter theft from your insurer.
Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about catalytic converter theft and how insurance covers it.
Table of Contents:
- How Insurance Covers Catalytic Converter Theft
- Comprehensive Coverage Should Cover Catalytic Converter Theft
- What Is a Catalytic Converter?
- How Catalytic Converter Theft Works
- How Much Does Catalytic Converter Replacement Cost?
- Can I Drive Without a Catalytic Converter?
- Steps to Take After Catalytic Converter Theft
- Signs of Catalytic Converter Theft
- Will My Insurance Premiums Rise After a Catalytic Converter Insurance Claims?
- How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft
How Insurance Covers Catalytic Converter Theft
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, catalytic converter thefts have increased by 1,215% since 2019. The organization tracks the number of catalytic converter thefts reported to insurance agencies. In 2018, there were 1,300 reported thefts; in 2021, there were more than 52,000.
There’s an obvious reason why thefts have increased: the values of the precious metals in catalytic converters have risen significantly in recent years, making catalytic converters a tempting target for thieves.
If thieves steal your catalytic converter, then you should be able to make a claim under your comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage is optional in all states and is part of full coverage car insurance. It covers damages that occur to your vehicle outside of accidents – including fire damage, hail damage, theft, and vandalism.
Comprehensive Coverage Should Cover Catalytic Converter Theft
If you have full coverage car insurance, then you should be able to make a claim after your catalytic converter is stolen.
Full coverage car insurance includes liability coverage, comprehensive coverage, and collision coverage. Liability coverage is required in virtually every state, while no state requires comprehensive or collision coverage.
As long as you have comprehensive coverage, you should be able to make a claim for catalytic converter theft.
Your insurance covers the cost of replacing your catalytic converter minus your comprehensive coverage deductible. A typical comprehensive coverage deductible is $250 to $500.
A typical catalytic converter repair job costs $1,100 to $2,600, including parts and labor. Your insurance should cover all of this cost after you pay your deductible.
What Is a Catalytic Converter?
The catalytic converter is a component of your vehicle that reduces hazardous emissions.
The United States has required catalytic converters on all gas-powered vehicles since 1975. Emissions enter the catalytic converter and pass through a metal-coated ceramic honeycomb inside. This honeycomb transforms the emissions from dangerous automotive exhaust into safer gases.
You can find your catalytic converter on the underside of your vehicle. It’s found between the engine and the muffler.
How Catalytic Converter Theft Works
Catalytic converters contain valuable components like platinum, palladium, and rhodium. These components have always had value, but rising rates in recent years have made them particularly valuable.
Thieves use a saw or wrench to remove your catalytic converter. It can take just 1 to 3 minutes for a competent thief to remove a catalytic converter.
How Much Does Catalytic Converter Replacement Cost?
It costs approximately $1,100 to $2,600 to replace a catalytic converter on an average vehicle, including parts and labor.
However, replacing a catalytic converter on some vehicles may cost $3,000 to $4,000.
Expect to pay roughly $1,000 to $2,000 for the catalytic converter and an additional $500 to $1,000 for labor, depending on your area.
Can I Drive Without a Catalytic Converter?
It’s against the law to remove the catalytic converter from your vehicle in every state.
Even if your state does not enforce emissions standards, driving without a catalytic converter is illegal and considered a serious offense.
The United States has required catalytic converters on all gas-powered vehicles since 1975. Some drivers have reported paying fines of thousands of dollars for driving without a catalytic converter.
Steps to Take After Catalytic Converter Theft
If your catalytic converter has been stolen, then follow these steps to repair your vehicle and make an insurance claim:
- Contact local authorities and your insurance company.
- Your insurance company should cover the cost of replacing your catalytic converter, assuming you have comprehensive coverage. Your insurance company can explain the next steps to take – like visiting a local repair shop and paying your deductible.
- Complete car repairs. You cannot drive without a catalytic converter. Wait for the technician to repair your vehicle, allow your insurance to pay for repairs (minus your deductible), and continue driving as normal.
Signs of Catalytic Converter Theft
Many drivers don’t realize their catalytic converter has been stolen until they start driving. Few people check their catalytic converter before starting their vehicle.
Some of the signs of a stolen catalytic converter include:
- Your car makes a sputtering sound when you change speeds
- Your car doesn’t feel like it’s driving smoothly
- There is an increase in exhaust smells or visible exhaust emissions from your vehicle
- There’s a load roar when you start your vehicle, and that roar gets louder as you accelerate
- Your vehicle displays a check engine light or other warnings
You may also notice missing parts under your vehicle after catalytic converter theft.
Will My Insurance Premiums Rise After a Catalytic Converter Insurance Claims?
Most insurance companies will not raise premiums after a single comprehensive coverage insurance claim.
Instead, you should be able to make a claim and continue to pay the same rates for car insurance.
However, your insurer may raise rates if you have had multiple comprehensive coverage claims in recent months.
Making a claim for your catalytic converter theft could also cause you to lose a claim-free discount.
How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft
As catalytic convert theft rates skyrocket, it’s more important than ever to protect your vehicle against catalytic converter theft.
Some of the best tips for preventing catalytic converter theft include:
- Park close to a wall, keeping your exhaust pipe as close to the wall as possible. This makes it difficult for a thief to access your catalytic converter.
- Take extra precautions for cars with high ground clearance (like SUVs). Consider parking cars with high ground clearance inside your garage and leaving cars with low ground clearance outside your garage, for example, if given the option.
- Engrave your catalytic converter with your vehicle identification number (VIN), making it easier to trace your catalytic converter after the theft. This could also deter thieves.
- Adjust your car alarm settings to react to vibrations. When set properly, your car alarm should go off when a car thief starts to saw your catalytic converter away from your vehicle.
- Install a cage around your catalytic converter. It doesn’t totally prevent theft, but it does make your car a harder target. Look for catalytic converter protection devices online or in stores.
- Park your car in a well-lit area, or install motion-sensitive lights around your house to deter thieves.
- Know which cars are higher targets for catalytic converter thieves. For example, SUVs, trucks, and hybrids tend to be the best cars for thieves to target because of the catalytic converters’ value and ease of access.
Insurance covers catalytic converter theft if you have comprehensive coverage.
Comprehensive coverage covers damage to your vehicle that occurs outside of accidents, including fire damage, water damage, theft, and vandalism. Catalytic converter theft falls under theft and/or vandalism, and comprehensive coverage should cover it.
After you pay your deductible, your insurance should cover the full cost of repairing or replacing your catalytic converter, up to the value of your vehicle or the limits of your policy.
Contact your insurer to ask about catalytic converter coverage or to make a claim for catalytic converter theft.