Progressive and State Farm, two of the largest U.S. auto insurers, are refusing to underwrite policies in certain cities for certain older Hyundai and Kia models that have been deemed too easy to steal, the companies say.
Several reports indicate that companies have stopped offering insurance on these vehicles in cities such as Denver, Colorado and St. Louis, Missouri. The insurance companies did not tell CNN which cities or states were involved.
The video featured is from a previous report.
The Highway Loss Data Institute released insurance claims data last September that confirmed what various social media accounts were saying: some 2015-2019 Hyundai and Kia models are about twice as likely to be stolen as other vehicles of the same age, as many of them lack some of the basic car theft prevention technologies included in most other vehicles of those years, according to the HLDI.
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Specifically, these SUVs and cars do not have electronic immobilizers, which rely on a computer chip in the car and another in the key that communicate to confirm that the key really belongs to that vehicle. Without the correct key, an immobilizer would have to do just that – stop the car from moving.
Immobilizers were standard equipment on 96% of vehicles sold for model years 2015-2019, according to HLDI, but only 26% of Hyundais and Kias had them at that time. Vehicles with push-button start systems, rather than relying on metal keys that must be inserted and turned, have immobilizers, but not all models with turnkey ignitions.
The theft of these vehicles became a social media trend in 2021, according to HLDI, as car thieves began posting videos of their thefts and rides and even videos explaining how to steal the cars. In Wisconsin, where crime first became common, Hyundai and Kia theft claims reached more than 30 times 2019 dollar levels.
“State Farm has temporarily stopped writing new business in certain states for certain model years and trim levels of Hyundai and Kia vehicles as losses related to theft of these vehicles have increased significantly,” the insurer said. in a statement sent to CNN. “This is a serious issue affecting our customers and the entire auto insurance industry.”
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Progressive is also reducing insurance for those cars in certain markets, spokesman Jeff Sibel said in an emailed statement.
“Over the past year, we have seen the theft rates of some Hyundai and Kia vehicles more than triple and in some markets these vehicles are nearly 20 times more likely to be stolen than other vehicles,” he wrote. “As we price our policies based on the level of risk they represent, this explosive increase in theft in many cases makes these vehicles extremely difficult for us to insure. In response, in some geographies we have increased our rates and limited our sales. new insurance policies on some of these models.”
Progressive continues to insure those who already have policies with the company, he said. Progressive also provides them with advice on how to protect their vehicles against theft.
Michael Barry, a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute, said it was highly unusual for auto insurers to simply stop writing new policies for a particular make or model of vehicle.
“They generally want to expand their market share based on where they do business,” he said.
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Hyundai and Kia operate as separate companies in the United States, but Hyundai Motor Group owns a significant stake in Kia, and various Hyundai and Kia models share much of their engineering.
Engine immobilizers are now standard on all Kia and Hyundai vehicles, the companies said in separate statements. Both automakers also said they were developing security software for vehicles that weren’t originally equipped with an immobilizer. Kia said it has started notifying owners of the availability of this software, which will be provided free of charge. Hyundai said its free software update will be available next month.
Hyundai also said it provides free steering wheel locks to select police departments nationwide to give to local residents who own Hyundai models that could be easily stolen. Hyundai dealerships also sell and install security kits for vehicles, the company said.
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