ICBC reverses upfront car rental charge policy day after complaint from Burnaby man whose had catalytic converter stolen twice


Customers who have a catalytic converter stolen can now get rental car and tow charges paid immediately

Tom Bader was upset that ICBC made him pay upfront for towing and car rental costs after his catalytic converter was stolen. Tom Bader was upset that ICBC made him pay upfront for towing and car rental costs after his catalytic converter was stolen. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /PNG

ICBC has reversed a policy that forced a Burnaby man who has had the catalytic converter stolen from his vehicle twice in the past five months to pay upfront for car rental and towing.

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Tom Bader said the catalytic converter was first cut out of his 2005 Hyundai Tuscon in August while it was parked in front of his home. The most recent theft occurred last Friday.

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The catalytic converter is part of a vehicle’s exhaust system and is targeted by thieves who use a reciprocating saw to cut it out and then sell it as scrap metal or for reuse by illegal vendors.

In August, due to the cost of paying upfront for a tow truck, Bader drove the vehicle to a nearby ICBC-approved workshop where five days later the Crown corporation approved replacement of the converter and agreed to pay for a vehicle rental until the work was done.

Bader rented a vehicle and after the repair was completed three days later he returned it only to find that he must pay upfront and then claim that money back from ICBC.

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“I had been told a rental was approved and then learned I had to pay upfront. I didn’t have the money, so what am I supposed to do?” Bader told Postmedia News on Sunday.

Bader called ICBC and said that after a 45 minute conversation that involved three people he was told that in this one-off case ICBC would cover the cost upfront.

Bader said it was also frustrating that if he could have afforded it he would have been responsible for the cost of a car rental until a claim was approved.

“If I had been in an accident on a Thursday and couldn’t drive my car then I would be given a rental the next day,” Bader said.

“To say the least this is a frustrating, maddening and serious issue in the Lower Mainland. Catalytic theft conversion is rampant.”

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ICBC figures show catalytic converter thefts rose from 89 in 2017 to 1,953 in 2021 — leading to regulatory change that forces metal dealers to report any time they buy one of these items.

On Monday, ICBC said that it had contacted Bader to notify him that it had reversed its policy and that for his latest claim his towing and car rental costs would be paid for upfront, and the car rental would take effect immediately.

In a statement, ICBC said that “with the rise in catalytic converter thefts, we recently reviewed our claims process to ensure a positive customer experience. ICBC can now direct bill for towing and rental vehicle costs if applicable for catalytic converter theft claims.

“Previously with catalytic converter thefts, a mechanical inspection was necessary to determine whether the customer’s insurance coverage applied and once that coverage was confirmed, ICBC would direct bill for towing or rental vehicle costs.”

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Bader said he was pleased with the outcome, but felt it would not have occurred if he had not spoken out.

An ICBC spokesperson said Bader’s complaint and the change in policy announced the next day were not related.

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