30 Mar How to Protect Your Vehicle’s Catalytic Converter
Tips from Clark Insurance & Selective Insurance
Over the past few years, one special car part has sparked a unique crime boom: catalytic converters. Why is this specific car part so popular amongst thieves? How can you protect your personal vehicles as well as your business’ fleet? Here at Clark Insurance, we work to keep our customers up-to-date on industry insights, including how to protect yourself and your business from potential risks trending across the country and in our own communities.
What Is a Catalytic Converter and Why Is It a Target for Theft?
A catalytic converter is a filter bolted to the underside of internal combustion vehicles. Located between the engine and the exhaust, these converters break up gases like carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide into less harmful compounds. Since being introduced in the 1970s, they have helped reduce certain emissions by more than 80%.
So why are thieves so attracted to catalytic converters? It has a lot to do with the thriving market for precious metals. Inside catalytic converters, there are trace amounts of three precious metals: platinum, palladium, and rhodium. During the pandemic, the average price for these metals has increased exponentially. Supply has decreased due to closed plants and interrupted supply chains, and demand has increased as countries push for stricter emissions standards.
While catalytic converter theft has always been a problem, in the past few years reported incidents have more than quadrupled from 14,433 in 2020 to 65,398 in 2021, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) – and this year will likely be no different. Auto repair shops that used to see 2-3 of these thefts every month are now seeing as many as 6-8 per day. Experts estimate up to 60% of these kinds of thefts go unreported, so actual figures are likely much higher.
Not only is this trend an expensive one – victims often have to shell out $500 to $3,000 or more to fix the damage – certain car parts are currently taking two or more months to fulfill, thanks to ongoing supply chain issues in the auto industry. At scrapyards, used catalytic converters go for between $25 to $1,000+ depending on the car’s make and model. Certain vehicles are more susceptible to theft as well – converters found in cars like the Toyota Prius contain more metals, while trucks and SUVs are raised off the ground and are easier to climb under to access the part. While the cost of replacing a catalytic converter and repairing additional damage caused by the theft is generally covered by a comprehensive auto insurance policy, it is always a good idea to confirm your coverage with your insurance agent.
How to Protect Your Vehicle(s)
With the help of an electric or battery powered saw, a skilled thief can steal a converter in 30-45 seconds. How can you protect your personal vehicles as well as your business’ fleet? Clark Insurance’s Safety & Risk Consulting Team offers some resources below.
Because of the extreme increase in thefts, a market has emerged for catalytic converter anti-theft devices. Most devices use a series of wire ropes with improved hardness, and some even include alarms. Largely, these devices are a deterrent – if the job is made harder, the would-be thief may reconsider and move on to a less protected vehicle. These devices typically are not cheap, but are certainly less expensive than installing a new catalytic converter/exhaust system.
- Catalytic Converter Lock Options from NAPA, CatStrap, & CatClamp
- The Toyota Prius is the most highly targeted vehicle and there are a number of bolt-on underbody plates specifically for Priuses
- Here is a DIY video on protecting your converter from a police chief in Washington state
- This company makes a label with an acid etched serial number that may increase the likelihood that a thief is caught
Clark’s carrier partner Selective Insurance offers additional tips especially for protecting your business’s fleet. You and your drivers can reduce your risk of theft late at night by following these fleet security guidelines, developed by Selective’s Safety Management team:
- Store vehicles in a garage
- Secure lots with fencing and good lighting
- Post “Property Under Surveillance” signage
- Monitor your property with security cameras
- Include VIN or license plate numbers on your catalytic converter
- Install security devices, such as “cat straps” or “cat clamps”
Understanding your insurance needs and the evolving needs of your business can be overwhelming. That is why Clark’s agents will be there to help you through every step of the process. From finding the right policy to filing a claim, you can feel confident and secure knowing that you are protected through Clark Insurance. We are here to help – contact us today!