Published: May 2015
Thanks largely to law enforcement efforts and today's technology, the chances of having your car stolen are lower than they have been in decades
, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). While it may be harder for thieves to get away with an entire car, some have turned their attention to specific parts they can take quickly.
So what happens when you start your car and it's making an unusual roar? Your mechanic may discover that someone made off with your catalytic converter. After calling the police, can you count on your auto insurer to help you with the cost of repairs?
Insurance companies and the NICB have noted a growing national trend of catalytic converter thefts. Edmunds says a catalytic converter, which reduces pollutants before they leave the vehicle's exhaust system, can be removed quickly with just a wrench or reciprocating saw. Converters contain precious metals such as platinum and palladium, and metal recyclers will pay anywhere from $20 to $200 for one. Unfortunately, it's going to cost you a lot more than that to have it replaced. It will likely cost around $1,000 to have a new catalytic converter installed, according to Edmunds, although it could cost more if anything else was damaged during the theft.
If you have comprehensive coverage with your car insurance, though, you may not have to foot the bill for replacing the converter. Comprehensive coverage typically includes coverage for damage not caused by a collision, such as vandalism, a broken windshield caused by a fallen tree branch or theft of a car or parts of the car. It will typically cover the loss above the amount of the deductible that you pay. It is important to note, however, that comprehensive is an optional coverage that may not be included in your policy. Talk with your agent about adding comprehensive coverage to your policy and what it might cover.
The NYPD Community Affairs Bureau states that catalytic converter theft is most common with vehicles parked for long periods of time in large parking lots. Large vehicles, such as trucks and SUVs, are also frequent targets, since it is easier for a thief slide under them due to their greater ground clearance. However, you can take certain precautions to help protect your vehicle from catalytic converter theft:
- Welding or shearing the bolt heads on the catalytic converter may make it harder for a thief to remove it, according to Edmunds.
- Install a catalytic converter theft deterrent, which can be purchased at a local auto parts store and installed at home or by a mechanic. These deterrents are typically a cage or thick wires around the converter that are difficult for a thief to cut through.
- Engrave your license plate number or vehicle identification number on the catalytic converter so that it can be traced to your vehicle.
- Park the car inside your garage or in areas with good lighting, says Edmunds. When away from home, park near busy areas, such as building entrances and high-traffic roads.
As much as possible, it's a good idea to be proactive in deterring thieves and protecting your vehicle. Make sure you understand what your auto insurance covers and talk to your agent if you have any questions.