Surrey man’s insurance deductible hiked by $2,200 after 3rd catalytic converter theft

Click to play video: 'B.C. man’s insurance deductible hiked by $2,200 after 3rd catalytic converter theft'
B.C. man’s insurance deductible hiked by $2,200 after 3rd catalytic converter theft
It's happened three times in what's known as a quiet neighbourhood. That's how often a Surrey resident has had his catalytic converter stolen from his driveway. He's sharing his story after learning how ICBC is handling his situation. Aaron McArthur reports. – Feb 19, 2024

A Surrey man’s insurance deductible has been hiked by $2,200 after the catalytic converter on his vehicle was stolen for a third time, adding to the thousands he has already spent on prevention, replacement parts and rental cars.

Ken Hansen said his car has been parked in the driveway during each incident, which occurred in the middle of the night, but the thief or thieves to continue to “come and help themselves.” All the thefts occurred the past year-and-a-half.

For the first three, he said he paid a $300 deductible, but ICBC recently warned him that if he renewed the optional comprehensive coverage, it would increase to $2,500.

“If I backed into a pole three or four times and caused damage, yeah it’s my fault,” Hansen said. “But when somebody comes and steals from you, a part of the vehicle that is required by law, then they don’t take that into consideration.”

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Click to play video: 'Surrey man victimized by catalytic converter thieves for 4th time'
Surrey man victimized by catalytic converter thieves for 4th time

Catalytic converters are an exhaust emission control device made up of a variety of precious metals, including platinum, palladium and cadmium.

Hansen said he installed about $1,000-worth of security cameras after the second theft and has since replaced the converter with a cheaper model that is likely to be less appealing to thieves. Nothing has been stolen in about six months.

“Aside from sitting in the vehicle overnight with a flashlight, we did pretty much everything we could,” he told Global News.

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Hansen said he can appeal the deductible increase in a year’s time when he goes to renew his insurance, but an ICBC broker he spoke to told him he “hadn’t really heard of any appeals that had gone in favour of the client.”

Click to play video: 'ICBC bills Mission woman for replacing stolen catalytic converter'
ICBC bills Mission woman for replacing stolen catalytic converter

In an interview, ICBC spokesperson Greg Harper said the insurer follows “standard industry practice” when reviewing a customer’s claim history, and multiple claims can lead to a deductible increase.

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“We’re very concerned about auto crime and the rise of catalytic converter thefts. This type of crime is very inconvenient for our customers. It can be costly as well,” Harper said.

“In Mr. Hansen’s case, unfortunately for him, he reported four comprehensive claims in less than one year totally over $13,000, so we informed him in December that should he decide to renew his comprehensive policy with ICBC … his minimum deductible would be going from $300 to $2,500.”

The higher deductible has meant Hansen’s premium rate has decreased by $85, Harper added. If Hansen doesn’t make a claim for three years, the deductible could decrease as well, he said.

Click to play video: 'Traffic Tips:  ‘You Etch It, We Catch It’ campaign'
Traffic Tips: ‘You Etch It, We Catch It’ campaign

According to ICBC, claims for catalytic converter thefts in B.C. increased from 89 in 2017 to 1,953 in 2021, while the costs attached to the those claims rose from $356,950 to a little over $4 million.

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In November 2021, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth vowed to close a loophole in the law that had allowed catalytic converter thieves to cash-in more easily.

The Metal Dealers and Recyclers Act, passed in 2011, regulates the sale and purchase of regulated metals, but did not include catalytic converters in its scope. Under the act, purchasers of scrap metal must record those purchases as a theft prevention measure, but the province’s definition of “regulated metal” excluded the ingredients that make up catalytic converters.

In March 2022, B.C. amended regulation to require registered metal dealers to report each transaction involving a catalytic converter that isn’t attached to an exhaust system — including information about the seller — to police on the day of sale.

Click to play video: 'Catalytic converter thefts spike in parts of B.C.'
Catalytic converter thefts spike in parts of B.C.

In an interview last Thursday, Farnworth said the “catalytic theft issue” is on his radar and consultations are underway with the auto industry and other stakeholders to find out what steps can be taken to address it.

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“I’m sympathetic to the issue around ICBC and the increasing of deductibles because of something that’s not the driver’s fault,” he said. “So I will be asking ICBC to look into that matter because it does strike me as not being fair.”

Farnworth said the widespread catalytic converter thefts raise questions about whether port police should be reinstated in B.C., as their metals are being “shipped overseas through our ports.”

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