Buying a used Kia or Hyundai? You might have trouble getting insurance

Photo (c) Rapeepong Puttakumwong - Getty Images

Two carriers have reportedly dropped some models because they’re too easy to steal

Used car shoppers need to keep several factors in mind as they make a decision – things like maintenance costs and insurance. In the case of certain Kia and Hyundai models, you may need to consider whether you can even get insurance.

CNN has reported that both State Farm and Progressive have quietly decided they will no longer issue policies for some 2015 through 2019 Kia and Hyundai models. The reason? They’re too easy to steal.

As we reported in August, thefts of Kias and Hyundais – they’re made by the same company – surged in the wake of a viral TikTok video showing how to easily steal the cars with only a screwdriver and a USB cable.

The following month, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) explained why it was so easy. According to IIHS, many 2015-19 Hyundai and Kia vehicles lack electronic immobilizers that prevent thieves from simply breaking in and bypassing the ignition. The feature is standard equipment on nearly all vehicles of that vintage made by other manufacturers.

Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) Senior Vice President Matt Moore said at the time that the lack of an immobilizer makes any vehicle a tempting target.

An effective deterrent

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

Immobilizers were already standard on 62% of models from other manufacturers in the model year 2000. But even in the model year 2015, when immobilizers were standard on 96% of other manufacturers’ vehicles, they were standard on only 26% of Hyundai and Kia vehicle models.

How do immobilizers work? According to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, it’s a simple electronic system consisting of two parts –  a transponder in the ignition key and a receiver in the car itself.

“When someone attempts to start the engine, the vehicle sends a request to the key,” the company explains. “If the key returns the correct predefined signal, the immobilizer sends a command to the engine control unit to start. Without the right signal, you can’t start the car.”

Progressive and State Farm are not exactly boasting about their new policy and have not responded to queries from other media outlets. But in a statement to CNN, State Farm confirmed it is not writing new policies on the affected models, at least temporarily. Progressive said has changed the criteria for some models and raised premiums for others.

According to the New York Post, Kia and Hyundai vehicle thefts are up as much as 300% over the past two years in some cities.

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