At least two big car insurance companies are refusing to cover certain Kia and Hyundai models in certain locations as authorities report staggering rates of vehicle theft.
Apparently, the increase in thefts is linked to a series of viral online videos that give tutorials on car theft and have inspired hordes of criminals to plug the vehicles. In New Orleans there were more than 1,000 incidents of Kia and Hyundai auto thefts alone last year, a significant portion of the city’s total of 4,400 stolen cars.
Not only do owners of these vehicles have to worry about thieves taking off in their cars, but they also have to deal with the new reality that car insurance companies may increase the premiums or refuse to insure them altogether.
Like reports of auto insurers denying coverage for new policies surfaced recently, South Korean automakers and the insurance industry have pointed the finger.
What the insurance companies say
Money has contacted eight of the largest car insurance companies in the United States to comment on their response to the increase in Kia and Hyundai car thefts – in particular, many models from 2011 to 2021, including Kia Souls and Sorentos and Hyundai Tucsons and Elantras. These vehicles are said to have no immobilizer and can be stolen with just a screwdriver and a USB cable. Three of the auto insurers (State Farm, Progressive and Nationwide) responded before the publication date.
- In a statement, State Farm said it 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.”
- Drivers of the affected cars are also being denied coverage under Progressive’s new policies in some parts of the United States, and the company has raised insurance rates for some of its new customers, a spokesperson confirmed. “This explosive increase in theft in many cases makes these vehicles extremely difficult for us to insure,” the spokesperson said.
- Nationwide sent the following statement: “We continue to provide insurance protection for Kia and Hyundai vehicles while monitoring Hyundai and Kia’s response to increased theft.”
- According to Mark Friedlander, spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, an industry trade group, the full scope of the number of companies refusing coverage is currently unclear, as most have not stated how. they react. He says other insurance companies are certainly aware of the situation and are likely analyzing options that include increasing premiums and reducing coverage.
Statements from Kia and Hyundai on stolen cars, insurance
In statements, parts of which are identical, Kia and Hyundai said they expect the insurance issues to be “temporary” and are taking detailed steps to improve defenses against theft of their cars. vehicles.
- Manufacturers also expressed disappointment with actions taken by insurance companies to deny coverage: “Kia America regrets this decision by certain insurers and its impact on owners and lessees of certain Kia vehicles,” the statement said. the society. (Hyundai used essentially the same language.)
- However, Friedlander says it’s not fair to blame the insurance companies. “Manufacturers are completely at fault in this situation. They have produced faulty vehicles, which are very easy to steal,” he says. “They shouldn’t expect insurers to bail them out here.”
- While manufacturers say insurance issues will be temporary, flights don’t seem to be slowing down as local authorities are breeding alarm on the number of incidents so far in 2023.
At the end of the line
Insurance companies could refuse new policies or possibly increase premiums in the future in response to increased Kia and Hyundai car thefts.
Insurance companies have broad power to deny coverage, increase premiums or refuse renewals, and Friedlander says the scale of this problem is forcing policyholders to think about these options.
People looking for insurance for affected cars are already having trouble. And because insurance contracts are often only for 6-month terms, even drivers of affected models who have insurance may soon face higher premiums when they next renew.
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