Catalytic Converter Theft: What To Know About Insurance Coverage

Catalytic converter theft will likely be covered by insurance if you have comprehensive coverage. Thieves commonly target catalytic converters because they contain valuable metals. Catalytic converter theft has increased drastically in the past few years, so drivers should take precautions to prevent their catalytic converter from being stolen.

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Dec 30, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Catalytic converter theft is typically covered by car insurance if you have comprehensive coverage
  • A catalytic converter is a car part that converts harmful gases into a safer substance
  • Thieves target catalytic converters because they contain valuable metals worth anywhere between hundreds and thousands of dollars
  • Catalytic converter theft has increased significantly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic

In 2020, car thefts in the United States have increased by 10%, and catalytic converter thefts have increased by approximately 400%. Supply chain issues have made catalytic converters even more valuable than in the past, making them a prime target for thieves looking for a profit.

Fortunately, your car insurance policy may compensate the replacement of a stolen catalytic converter. Read more below to discover how your car insurance might cover theft expenses and how to protect yourself against catalytic converter theft.

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Is catalytic converter theft covered by car insurance?

Whether or not your car insurance will cover catalytic converter theft depends on the type of insurance you have and your car insurance company.

Does car insurance cover theft of items that are permanently affixed to your vehicle? If you have comprehensive car insurance, your policy is likely to cover theft of items attached to your vehicle. Therefore, a stolen catalytic converter should be covered, along with any repairs for damage caused by the theft.

Comprehensive and Collision Car Insurance Coverage
Coverage TypeWhat It CoversScenario
CollisionPays to repair your vehicle for damages from a car wreckYou rear-end a truck at an intersection. You're at fault, so your insurance covers the cost. Collision covers the damage to your own vehicle.
ComprehensivePays to repair your vehicle for damage caused by other eventsA tree limb falls on your car while it's parked or you hit a deer on your drive home.
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Is catalytic converter theft covered by GEICO insurance? If you have comprehensive coverage, GEICO will reimburse you for replacement of your catalytic converter and repair any related damage from its removal. GEICO explicitly states that their comprehensive coverage covers theft and vandalism.

Does AAA insurance cover catalytic converter theft? Again, if you have comprehensive coverage, AAA will cover replacement and repairs if your catalytic converter is stolen.

Is catalytic converter theft covered by State Farm insurance? State Farm’s comprehensive coverage is similar to policies from other car insurance companies, so catalytic converter theft should be covered.

Does Progressive cover catalytic converter theft? If you have comprehensive coverage, Progressive will cover the replacement of the catalytic converter and any repairs related to the theft.

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What is a catalytic converter?

A catalytic converter is a car part that reduces harmful emissions. Catalytic converters have been required on all gas-powered vehicles since 1975. Dangerous gases enter into the catalytic converter, recombine, and convert to safer gases. For example, carbon monoxide can be mixed with oxygen and converted to carbon dioxide.

Why do people steal catalytic converters?

Catalytic converters contain precious metals, including platinum, rhodium, and palladium. The materials contained in catalytic converters make them valuable, possibly worth between hundreds and thousands of dollars.

In addition to the value of a catalytic converter, the location of the part (under the vehicle) makes it quick and easy for thieves to access and remove them from a vehicle. Therefore, it is common for thieves to steal multiple catalytic converters from an area simultaneously.

Some cars will be at a higher risk of having their catalytic converters stolen. Older cars may have catalytic converters that contain a higher amount of valuable metals, but newer cars may have metals that are in better condition. In addition, the catalytic converters from hybrid vehicles may be more salvageable since they don’t need to process as many emissions.

Larger vehicles that have a higher ground clearance may also be at greater risk, since it is easier to get underneath the vehicle. Some catalytic converters may also be easier to remove if they are attached to the vehicle by bolts rather than welding.

What are the signs of a stolen catalytic converter?

After a catalytic converter is stolen, it may not be immediately apparent to the vehicle’s owner. However, once the car is started, it may sound much louder than usual since the muffler will be disconnected. The car may also have difficulty accelerating and lack responsiveness. In addition, the exhaust fumes may have an unpleasant smell.

If any of these issues occur, you can look underneath your vehicle to determine if your catalytic converter is missing. If so, there will be a noticeable missing section in the undercarriage.

If you’re wondering what to do if your catalytic converter is stolen, simply take your car to a mechanic. It may be safer to have a tow truck transport your vehicle to the shop. If you have comprehensive coverage, you may file a claim with your car insurance company to get help paying for the parts and repairs.

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How can I prevent catalytic converter theft?

While catalytic converters are commonly targeted by thieves, there are steps you can take to prevent becoming a victim of this crime.

You should pay special attention to where and how you park your vehicle. If you have the opportunity to park your car in a garage, this is highly recommended. However, you could also opt to park your car against a wall with the exhaust pipe closest to it.

If you have multiple vehicles that you must park outside, you may want to consider parking the vehicles with lower ground clearance outside of the vehicles with higher ground clearance.

You should take steps to improve the security around your vehicle. A home security system could include a camera pointed toward your cars. Your cars should also be equipped with their own alarm systems, which can be set to react to vibrations. There are also catalytic converter protection devices which make it more difficult to remove them from the vehicle.

On top of an anti-theft system, you could also have your catalytic converter engraved with your car’s VIN number, which would make it easier to trace if stolen.

If you want to ensure that you’re protected in case your catalytic converter is stolen, enter your ZIP code into our free quote comparison tool below to find affordable car insurance rates from companies near you.

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