Man doing work underneath a car

Is catalytic converter theft covered by insurance?

author: Sarah Beresford

By Sarah Beresford

Over the last few years, there’s been a large increase in the theft of catalytic converters. Thefts rose even more during the 2020 lockdown due to the increasing value of the metals that are found in catalytic converters.  

Be aware that it’s illegal to drive without a catalytic converter, so if you’re a victim of this crime, you won’t be able to drive your car until it’s repaired. We’ve researched ways to help keep your car safe from this type of theft. 

What is catalytic converter theft? 

Catalytic converters are fitted on petrol, diesel, and hybrid cars. They’re found underneath the car with the exhaust system and are designed to help reduce harmful emissions from the car engine.  

They contain rhodium, palladium, and platinum, and it’s the value of these metals that are making them attractive to thieves - they’re all precious metals that are more valuable than gold.  

Thieves usually work by jacking up the car to access the catalytic converter, enabling them to cut it out - and it doesn’t take long to do. Using power tools, the thieves can get away with your catalytic converter in just a couple of minutes.  

What cars are targeted for catalytic converter theft? 

Any car with a catalytic converter can be targeted, but some cars are more common targets than others. Because hybrids are partly powered by electricity, the converters found on hybrid cars are usually in better condition than on non-hybrid cars. This makes them worth more. The hybrid models often targeted for catalytic converter theft include the older model Toyota Prius, Toyota Auris, Honda Jazz, and the Lexus RX. 

Cars with a high ground clearance making access easier are also targeted, including vans and 4x4s. In some cases, the DPF (diesel particulate filter) is also stolen from diesel cars. 

How much is a catalytic converter worth in the UK? 

Stolen catalytic converters are currently worth up to £400 but the value fluctuates as the price of metal goes up and down.  

How much does it cost to replace a stolen catalytic converter? 

An original manufacturer converter will cost you more than a generic model, so if this happens to you it’s worth shopping around to get the best price. But as well as the cost of replacing the converter you may have to fix any damage done to your car during the theft. In some cases, and especially on older cars, the repair will cost more than the car is worth. Car insurer Admiral said the average cost of a claim was £1,500. 

Does your insurance cover catalytic converter theft? 

It’ll depend on your insurance policy but if the theft is covered by your insurance, you’ll need to consider the excess that’s payable. And if the claim is for more than your car’s worth then the insurance company will write it off.  If you’re able to claim on your insurance, bear in mind that your insurance premiums will probably increase as a result. 

How can I prevent my catalytic converter from being stolen? 

There are steps you can take to reduce the chances of your catalytic converter being stolen: 

  • park your car alongside a wall or with the bonnet facing a wall to make access more difficult
  • at home, keep your car in the garage, or a well-lit area, preferably with CCTV
  • don’t park your car up a kerb, this makes access to the underneath easier 
  • think about fitting a “catlock” - although unlikely to prevent theft, they make it harder giving more time for the thieves to be interrupted 
  • mark the converter with a unique ID allowing it to be traced back to you and making it harder for thieves to sell on 
  • fit an alarm that includes a tilt sensor
  • look into installing a driveway alarm or smart doorbell with a camera
  • stay alert - if someone is working underneath a car, ask yourself if they’re genuine. If you’re unsure, then call 999

Read about smart doorbells and how you can set up a smart home on a budget. 

Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

author: Sarah Beresford

By Sarah Beresford

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Man doing work underneath a car Man doing work underneath a car