Does car insurance cover catalytic converter theft?

If you're wondering: "Does insurance cover catalytic converter theft?", you should know that comprehensive insurance does cover catalytic converter theft, but liability or collision does not. However, even if you have comprehensive coverage, you should still take steps to protect your car.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Brad Larsen

UPDATED: Feb 15, 2022

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Things to Know

  • Catalytic converter theft has been on the rise since 2020 and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The main reason why catalytic converters are stolen is due to the increasing price of the interior precious metals needed to operate the converter
  • Comprehensive insurance plans cover catalytic converter theft, but you won’t be covered if you only have liability

In 2020, America was gripped by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. From government shutdowns to lost jobs, many Americans faced economic instability.

When times are tough, crime rates — particularly theft —tend to increase. Car theft rates have risen dramatically since 2020, and there’s one mechanical part that thieves are especially targeting — catalytic converters.

If your car is the unfortunate victim of a stolen catalytic converter, you’re likely wondering, Does car insurance cover theft? It depends on your coverage. While some policies do, others won’t. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find cheap car insurance that will compensate theft.

So, does insurance cover catalytic converter theft? You can compare auto insurance rates to find the best price and the right coverage to protect against theft. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool to determine what rates might look like for you.

Does insurance cover catalytic converter theft?

Your auto insurance protects you from many losses, but it might not cover theft. It all depends on the type of coverage you have on your vehicle.

There are three main types of car insurance. Liability is the most common because most states require a minimum amount of coverage before you can legally drive.

If you choose your state’s minimum insurance requirement, you won’t be covered if someone steals your catalytic converter.

Next, you have collision insurance. This insurance helps repair your car after an accident, no matter who is at fault. However, it’s important to remember that it merely covers damage from accidents. Therefore, it won’t assist you with theft.

The type of insurance that covers theft is called comprehensive. Comprehensive covers your car after it’s been damaged outside of an accident. That includes weather, animal contact, vandalism, and theft.

Comprehensive coverage costs more than liability, but it can save you thousands of dollars. The exact price of your insurance will depend on your unique situation and the company that you select, but you can get an approximation of what it’ll cost below.

CompanyAverage price
GEICO$135
Allstate$193
State Farm$218
USAA$166
Travelers$199
Liberty Mutual$229
Progressive$168
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However, there is a catch with comprehensive. If your converter is stolen and you want to make a claim, you’ll need to pay your deductible. Unless your deductible is very low, a catalytic converter is likely less expensive. Therefore, you’ll have to pay for your converter out of pocket no matter what.

How to Tell if a Catalytic Converter is Stolen

It can be challenging to determine if your converter has been stolen, simply by looking at your car. However, you should always examine your car if you detect signs of tampering, particularly near the engine.

You will notice it once you start your car, though. Your vehicle will make a loud roaring sound if the catalytic converter has been removed. And that noise will become louder when you press the accelerator.

Other signs include sputtering noises when you change speeds or an overall sense that your car isn’t driving as smoothly as normal.

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What is a catalytic converter?

Simply put, a catalytic converter helps reduce harmful emissions that your car releases. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that all cars made after 1975 contain a catalytic converter.

The catalytic converter transforms some of the harmful emissions — like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons — into carbon dioxide and water vapor. This process is a chemical reaction created by a ceramic piece coated with precious metals like palladium, platinum, and rhodium.

Those precious metals are the catalyst for the chemical reaction. When they reach at least 400 degrees, the metals react with the bad emissions and convert them into less harmful byproducts.

The catalytic converter is part of the exhaust system and is usually located between your engine and muffler. Typically, it’s closer to the engine so that it can heat up quickly.

Why are catalytic converters stolen?

The main reason why catalytic converters are stolen is because they contain precious metals and are relatively easy to access.

World trade has decreased due to supply chain problems and labor shortages from the COVID-19 pandemic. This has made it increasingly difficult to acquire precious metals, which has caused their value to rise.

These prices change frequently — sometimes multiple times a day — but you can gain an idea below of the value of the precious metals in your converter.

MetalPrice per gramAmount in catalytic converterValue of catalytic converter metals
Palladium$72.502 to 7 grams$145 to $507.5
Rhodium$593.181 to 2 grams$593.18 to $1,186.36
Platinum$33.773 to 7 grams$101.31 to $236.39
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Stealing these metals is relatively simple for an experienced thief. Catalytic converters are typically easy to reach and remove. After extracting the entire piece, it isn’t difficult to find someone willing to purchase it.

A less common reason why people steal converters is to sell them to mechanic shops. People with used vehicles can be hesitant to spend money on a new catalytic converter. Some shady mechanics will buy stolen converters to sell to used car owners, which is why it’s important to seek a mechanic that you can trust.

How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

If you didn’t know your car even had a catalytic converter before hearing about rising thefts in the news, you might be at a loss regarding how to keep it safe.

You can attempt some simple techniques to help prevent catalytic converter theft. Consider trying the following tips to ensure that your converter remains intact:

  • Install a sensitive car alarm
  • Etch or engrave your VIN into the converter
  • Purchase a specialized catalytic converter anti-theft device
  • Park in a well-lit, secure area
  • Weld the converter to the frame of your car

If your converter is stolen, make sure to contact the police right away. If you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, speak with your insurance agent to determine your next steps.

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Find the Best Car Insurance to Protect Against Theft

If you want to protect your car from catalytic converter theft, one of the best things you can do is to obtain comprehensive coverage. A comprehensive policy not only protects against catalytic converter theft but other types of theft as well. You’ll also be protected from additional kinds of damage that emerge.

So, does insurance cover catalytic converter theft? If you want your insurance to protect you from theft, begin comparing comprehensive prices with multiple companies. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool to discover what quotes might look like for you.

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