Winnipeg drivers question who is responsible for coverage of stolen catalytic converters

WINNIPEG — A rash of catalytic converter thefts from Winnipeg vehicles have drivers questioning who is responsible for coverage of the stolen parts.

For nearly a month Winnipegger Bryce Davidson has been without his car. He said his catalytic converter was stolen from under his car in broad daylight.

He said Manitoba Public Insurance changed the claim from a vandalism to a partial theft.

The bill is more than $700, which includes his deductible and a betterment fee.

“I’m angry because I thought I had insurance to protect me from events like this. But it seems like you still have to pay to be a victim,” said Davidson.

According to MPI, the betterment fee applies to the depreciation of parts on a vehicle. The adjuster looks at the age and mileage of the car. If a vehicle is old MPI said it is likely the converter is too, so the fee is applied when replacing it with a new converter.

“From Manitoba Public Insurance’s perspective, we will cover the cost of replacing catalytic converter again, subject to the customer’s deductible,” said MPI Media Relations Coordinator Brian Smiley.

Virginia Lechman said she has been battling MPI for nearly two years after her catalytic converter was stolen.

“I’ve probably talked to 20 different people there, gotten different a response from every single person on why I‘m stuck with this bill when I did nothing wrong,” said Lechman.

“I pay my insurance every year.”

In January, Winnipeg police said 77 thefts of catalytic converters were reported. Police said cases are in the rise across North America.

“We’ve had a number of people make reports to police where, we’ve actually arrested people in progress of stealing these catalytic converters simply because they’ve heard power tools at an odd time of night,” said Winnipeg Police Const. Dani McKinnon.

A local auto body shop said the thefts are most likely due to the precious metals contained within the hardware.

“Platinum and palladium, but platinum is probably the main metal they are after,” said Dynamic Auto Manager Rob Reimer.

MPI said it can only return the deductible if the person responsible for the theft is caught, charged, found guilty and pays for the cost themselves. 

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