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Crunching the Numbers: Catalytic converter theft rates higher than reflected numbers, report says

Toronto, Ontario — A new report from the U.S.’s National Salvage Vehicle Reporting Program (NSVRP) gets down to brass tacks on how catalytic converter thefts are costing the insurance industry and everyday drivers, more than what initial estimates may reflect.

Based on data collected by State Farm, catalytic converter thefts are up 33 percent in the first half of 2022, compared to the same six-month period in 2021.

The NSVRP found that when State Farm’s data is extrapolated to account for its 16 percent market share in the American auto insurance space, and its average payout for a catalytic converter theft ($2,621), the auto insurance industry at-large reaches an annualized property/casualty rate of 294,625 insured catalytic converter thefts per year.

The organization pointed out that the 294,625 figure accounts for the less than 45 percent of vehicles on U.S. roads that are covered by a comprehensive auto insurance policy that would record and document catalytic converter theft.

The estimate does not account for dealer sales inventories, rental vehicles, end-of-life vehicles, or completely uninsured vehicles—all of which remain frequent targets of catalytic converter theft.

When those factors are accounted for, annual estimates for total annual thefts are closer to between 600,000 and 700,000 converters, costing the public more than $1.5 billion.

With a U.S. operating vehicle population of about 260 million vehicles, that theft rate accounts for 2 to 2.5 percent of all vehicles on American roads.

Given the hoops the NSVRP jumped through to put together a more accurate picture of the rise of catalytic converter thefts in the U.S., the organization says they would like to see other insurers follow State Farm’s example and begin tracking and documenting claims related to this issue.

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