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B.C. woman upset over ICBC depreciation fee to replace stolen catalytic converter

Click to play video: 'ICBC bills Mission woman for replacing stolen catalytic converter'
ICBC bills Mission woman for replacing stolen catalytic converter
WATCH: The experience of a Mission woman after the theft of her catalytic converter serves as a heads-up to all drivers after ICBC told her she would have to pay an extra fee to replace the part. Travis Prasad reports. – Jun 16, 2023

A Mission, B.C., woman whose catalytic converter was stolen says she’s being forced to shell out more than double her deductible in total to have the part replaced.

Thieves snatched the exhaust component from Laurie Chapman’s Hyundai SUV on May 19.

Chapman said mechanics told her a replacement part is out of stock, and did a temporary fix while the unit is on back order.

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

But on top of that, ICBC is going to charge her a “betterment fee” — assessed at 10 per cent of the part’s $4,000 cost, based on how much the value of the stolen converter had depreciated compared to a new unit.

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That works out to $400 on top of the $300 deductible for which she’s already on the hook.

“If someone threw a rock through my windshield and my car was 10 years old, I would not be required to pay a betterment fee, they would put a new windshield in. Why should this be any different?” she told Global News.

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“We pay a deductible for a reason.”

At issue is the scarcity of catalytic converters amid an epidemic of thefts.

Because the part is in high demand, and due to supply chain issues, many mechanics can’t find more affordable aftermarket parts and have to order more expensive Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts instead, according to ICBC.

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

“If an aftermarket part becomes available while waiting for the OEM part, this would be a much more affordable option and depreciation may not apply,” the public insurer said.

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ICBC said Chapman may also be able to avoid the fee if she sources an aftermarket part herself.

That’s information Chapman said wasn’t made clear to her in dealing with either her claims adjuster or an ICBC manager.

And she doesn’t understand why it’s up to the end customer to do the extra legwork to source a cheaper part or be stuck with the fee.

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Surrey launches catalytic converter and scrap metal theft crackdown

“I have found some on eBay, I have found some on Amazon. I don’t know what the problem is, why they can’t be found,” she said.

“This is why our rates are going up: it’s because they are spending money where it doesn’t need to be spent.”

ICBC told Global News the depreciation fee is standard industry practice, and that when it comes to sourcing parts the onus is on the repair shop to find the most suitable solution for the customer.

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According to ICBC, more than 2,300 converters were stolen around Metro Vancouver in the first half of 2022, costing the insurer an estimated $5.3 million.

The provincial government implemented new regulations in March 2022 requiring metal recyclers to track and record all catalytic converter purchases, but police agencies across the province have continued to report surging numbers of thefts.

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