2 insurance companies blacklist some Kia and Hyundai models over theft worries

ByNydia Han and Heather Grubola WPVI logo
Thursday, February 9, 2023
2 insurance companies blacklist some Kia, Hyundai models
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Some car owners could soon get a letter from their insurance company that some vehicles are being blacklisted.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Some car owners could soon get a letter from their insurance company that some vehicles are being blacklisted.

In fact, at least two insurers are declining to write new policies on some Hyundai and Kia models.

"I'd seen reports that Hyundais are fairly easy to steal. I didn't think that that would happen to me," said Amelia Dougherty of Philadelphia's Spring Garden section.

You might remember Dougherty. She's on the hunt for a new car after someone stole her 2020 Hyundai Tucson and then crashed it into the Schuylkill River on Monday.

"Luckily enough I have good insurance so I can get that taken care of fairly quickly," she said.

The 6abc data journalism team found 820 Hyundais and Kias have been stolen in Philadelphia so far this year, making up 57 percent of all city vehicle thefts up until Jan. 25.

The Highway Loss Data Institute found that among 2015-2019 vehicles, theft claims were nearly twice as common for Hyundais and Kias compared to other makes.

"These vehicles are missing what's called an electronic immobilizer, which prevents theft," said Mark Friedlander of the Insurance Information Institute. "Most vehicles in the country have these. But these model Kias and Hyundais do not have them and that's why they're so easy to steal."

So now two major U.S. insurers, Progressive and State Farm, are halting new policies on certain Kias and Hyundais - at least for now.

"My insurance company, they said going forward if you have a car that's a Kia or Hyundai after 2019, they won't insure it," said Dougherty.

Dougherty said her State Farm agent told her letters were sent to customers at the end of January.

"We're not aware of any other companies that have put a stop in place yet on these policies," said Friedlander.

And current customers of State Farm and Progressive shouldn't panic.

"Nobody's policies are being canceled. This only applies to writing new business for these specific models," he said.

Hyundai and Kia say they regret the decision by insurers but anticipate it will be temporary. They also say engine immobilizers are now standard on all their vehicles and have always been standard on vehicles with push-button ignitions. In addition, owners will be offered free software updates soon.

And right now they're offering free steering wheel locks to law enforcement agencies to distribute.

Hyundai Full Statement:

Hyundai Motor America regrets this decision by insurers and its impact on select Hyundai vehicle owners and lessees, which we anticipate will be temporary. Engine immobilizers are now standard on all Hyundai vehicles produced as of November 2021 -- and have long been standard equipment on all Hyundai vehicles with push-button ignitions.

Additionally, Hyundai has taken a series of actions to deter thefts of affected vehicles, including an upcoming software upgrade to prevent the mode of theft popularized on social media. This software upgrade will be available in the very near future and will be provided at no cost to customers. We will soon be providing more details regarding the timing and vehicles eligible for this software upgrade.

Hyundai is also providing free steering wheel locks, as available, to select law enforcement agencies across the country for distribution to local residents who own or lease affected models. Owners may also bring their vehicles to a local Hyundai dealer for the purchase and installation of a customized security kit. We apologize for the inconvenience to affected customers.

Hyundai is committed to ensuring the quality and integrity of all our products through continuous improvement. Hyundai quality is among the best in the industry, ranking third among all brands in the 2022 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) and historically above the industry average in J.D. Power's U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS).

Kia Full Statement:

Kia America regrets this decision by certain insurers and its impact on owners and lessees of select Kia vehicles, which we anticipate will be temporary. Engine immobilizers are now standard on all Kia vehicles and have always been standard equipment on Kia vehicles with push-button ignitions.

Additionally, Kia has taken a series of actions to reduce the claim frequencies associated with affected vehicles. Kia has been developing and testing enhanced security software for vehicles not originally equipped with an immobilizer and has started notifying owners of certain models of the availability of this software upgrade at no cost to consumers. Kia anticipates that it will make software upgrades available for most affected vehicles by mid-2023. Kia is also continuing to provide free steering wheel locks, as available, to interested law enforcement agencies across the country for distribution to local residents who own or lease affected models.

Kia owners with questions regarding their vehicle may contact our Customer Care team directly at 1-800-333-4542 (4Kia) or online via the Owners Portal on kia.com.

State Farm Full Statement:

"State Farm has temporarily stopped accepting new customer applications 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.

We take seriously our responsibility to manage risk and the impact of excess claim costs on all our customers. In this case, it became necessary to take action to protect our policyholders and our business.

We are monitoring this situation very closely and will adjust our approach as appropriate.

For information on auto theft, we recommend reaching out to the Insurance Information Institute and the National Insurance Crime Bureau." - State Farm

Action News did not hear back from Progressive.