If You Drive These Cars, You May Be Uninsurable for Reasons Out of Your Control

Hyundai Accent 2017 Interior with sunlight stock photo
bortnikau / iStock.com

Owners of older Hyundai and Kia car models might be having buyer’s remorse these days due to issues getting the vehicles insured.

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Two of the biggest auto insurers in the United States — Progressive and State Farm — have stopped writing policies in some cities on Hyundai and Kia models that have been classified as too easy to steal, CNN reported. The cities mentioned in media reports include Denver and St. Louis (though neither Progressive nor State Farm would confirm specific cities and states to CNN).

A Fall 2022 analysis from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) found that certain 2015 through 2019 Hyundai and Kia models are about twice as likely to be stolen as other vehicles of similar age.

According to a September 2022 press release from the HLDI and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), many 2015-19 Hyundai and Kia vehicles don’t have electronic immobilizers that prevent thieves from breaking in and bypassing the ignition. The immobilizers are designed to confirm whether a specific key belongs to a specific vehicle. If not, the immobilizers keep cars from moving. The feature is standard on nearly all vehicles of that vintage made by other manufacturers.

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“Our earlier studies show that vehicle theft losses plunged after immobilizers were introduced,” HLDI Senior Vice President Matt Moore said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Hyundai and Kia have lagged behind other automakers in making them standard equipment.”

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As CNN noted, some of the 2015-19 Hyundai and Kia models are so easy to steal that their thefts started trending on social media. Some thieves even posted videos of their thefts and offered advice on how to steal the vehicles — developments that no doubt caught the attention of insurance companies.

In a statement to CNN, State Farm said it has “temporarily stopped writing new business in some states for certain model years and trim levels of Hyundai and Kia vehicles because theft losses for these vehicles have increased dramatically. This is a serious problem impacting our customers and the entire auto insurance industry.”

Progressive is also cutting back on insuring these cars in some markets, spokesman Jeff Sibel told CNN in an emailed statement.

“During the past year we’ve seen theft rates for certain Hyundai and Kia vehicles more than triple and in some markets these vehicles are almost 20 times more likely to be stolen than other vehicles,” Sibel wrote. “Given that we price our policies based on the level of risk they represent, this explosive increase in thefts in many cases makes these vehicles extremely challenging for us to insure. In response, in some geographic areas we have increased our rates and limited our sale of new insurance policies on some of these models.”

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To help address the problem, both Hyundai and Kia have been working with local police departments to make steering wheel locks available to affected owners, according to the IIHS-HLDI report. In addition, Hyundai has identified a security kit it believes will help prevent thefts. Whether these features are enough to convince certain insurers to write policies on the cars is uncertain.

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Meanwhile, immobilizers are standard on all Hyundai vehicles built after Nov. 1, 2021, and immobilizers were installed on all 2022 Kia models and trims either at the beginning of the model year or as a running change.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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