Progressive and State Farm, two of America’s largest auto insurers, are refusing to cover some older Hyundai and Kia models in certain cities that the companies say are too easy to steal.
Multiple reports state that companies in cities like Denver, Colorado and St. Louis, Missouri have stopped offering insurance for these vehicles. The insurance companies did not tell CNN which cities or states were involved.
The Highway Loss Data Institute released data on insurance claims last September that confirmed what various social media accounts were doing say: Some 2015-2019 Hyundai and Kia models are about twice as likely to be stolen than other vehicles of a similar age, there Many of them lack some of the basic anti-theft car technology found in most other vehicles of those years. according to HLDI.
These SUVs and cars in particular don’t have electronic immobilizers that rely on a computer chip in the car and another in the key communicating to confirm that the key really does belong to that vehicle. Without the right key, an immobilizer should do just that – stop the car from moving.
Immobilizers were standard equipment on 96% of vehicles sold for the 2015-2019 model years, according to HLDI, but only 26% of Hyundais and Kias had them at this time. Vehicles with push button start systems have immobilizers rather than relying on metal keys that must be inserted and turned, but not all models with key ignitions.
Stealing these vehicles has been according to HLDI, a social media trend in 2021 when car thieves started posting videos of their thefts and jaunts and even videos explaining how to steal the cars. In Wisconsin, where the crime first became widespread, theft claims from Hyundais and Kias rose to more than 30 times the 2019 dollar level.
“State Farm has temporarily stopped writing new business for certain model years and trim levels of Hyundai and Kia vehicles in some states due to a dramatic increase in theft claims for those vehicles,” the insurer said in a statement provided to CNN . “This is a serious issue affecting our customers and the entire auto insurance industry.”
Progressive is also restricting insurance on these cars in some markets, spokesman Jeff Sibel said in an emailed statement.
“Over the past year, we have more than tripled theft rates for certain Hyundai and Kia vehicles, and in some markets these vehicles are almost 20 times more likely to be stolen than other vehicles,” he wrote. “Given that we price our policies based on the level of risk they pose, this explosion in theft in many cases makes insuring these vehicles extremely challenging for us. In response, we have increased our rates in some geographic areas and restricted our sale of new insurance policies for some of these models.”
Progressive continues to insure those who already have policies with the company, he said. Progressive also advises them on how to protect their vehicles from theft.
Michael Barry, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, said it’s very unusual for auto insurers to simply stop writing new policies for a particular make or model of vehicle.
“They generally want to grow their market share depending on where they do business,” he said.
Hyundai and Kia operate as separate companies in the United States, but Hyundai Motor Group owns a large 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 are 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 is being made available free of charge. Hyundai said its free software update will be available next month.
Hyundai also said it is providing free steering wheel locks to some police departments across the country to give to residents who have Hyundai models that could be easily stolen. Hyundai dealers also sell and install safety kits for the vehicles, the company said.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the cost of Hyundai safety kits.