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Crunching the Numbers: Rates of catalytic converter theft higher than what the numbers reflect, report says

Washington D.C., United States — 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 by extension, 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, as well as its average payout for a catalytic converter theft (US$2,621), the auto insurance industry at-large is on track to reach 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 the theft of a catalytic converter.

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

When those factors are taken into account, the annual estimate for total annual thefts is closer to between 600,000 and 700,000, at a cost to the public of more than US$1.5 billion.

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

Given the hoops the NSVRP had to jump through just 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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