Do you own a Kia or a Hyundai? Here’s why your insurance rates could go up

[Update Oct. 3, 2022: Information added about Hyundai’s newly available security kits.]

Social media-inspired thieves steal select Kia and Hyundai models with little more than a phone charging cable.

The trend started in Milwaukee before spreading to cities across the country. This has led to multiple lawsuits filed against automakers. The plaintiffs allege that Kia and Hyundai defrauded consumers by selling dangerous vehicles that lacked a common form of anti-theft technology, making them sitting ducks for thieves.

Automakers have taken some steps to prevent further theft, including providing free steering wheel locks through local police departments, according to statements emailed to NerdWallet. Hyundai is also selling security kits designed to prevent theft, starting Oct. 1.

Prevention is important. Having your car stolen is disruptive and costly, assuming you need to replace your vehicle or repair it, if it is recovered. But if you own one of the affected Kia or Hyundai models, you could face additional consequences, including more expensive insurance and reduced resale value on a vehicle known to be easily stolen.

Here’s what you need to know about the wave of Kia and Hyundai thefts and how to protect yourself.

TikTok challenge boosts thefts at Kia and Hyundai

Videos posted on TikTok, YouTube and other social media sites over the past few months show how to steal certain Kia and Hyundai models sold between 2011 and 2021. These models use a key rather than a button-based ignition system. pusher.

These vehicles do not have immobilizers, which use electronic signals to prevent the car from starting without the correct key. Most cars made in the last 20 years are equipped with engine immobilizers because they have been so effective in reducing car theft.

Cheeky videos featuring the “Kia Boys” in Milwaukee show how to steal those Kias and Hyundais that don’t have immobilizers. They do this using a screwdriver, or even something as ubiquitous as a USB cord.

In response to the increase in thefts, Hyundai is now including immobilizers in all vehicles, starting with those manufactured after Nov. 1, 2021, according to a statement from Hyundai Motor America sent to NerdWallet. In a separate statement, Kia America said all 2022 models come with an immobilizer.

The targeted thefts started happening before the videos went viral. But the tutorials are being blamed for an increase in Kia and Hyundai thefts in cities across the country. Take St. Paul, Minnesota, where one of many class action lawsuits was filed this month. Between January and August 2021, 31 Kias and 48 Hyundais were stolen, according to St. Paul Police Department data. During the same period this year, that number rose to 334 thefts at Kia and 288 at Hyundai.

The Kia and Hyundai thefts add to a two-year national car theft problem. The National Insurance Crime Bureau, which analyzes crime data, reported that vehicle crime has increased since 2020, with carjackings and theft of catalytic converters approaching records. Nearly one million vehicles were stolen in 2021, the NICB said in an email. Of these, approximately 782,300 were passenger vehicles.

Thefts could have wide-ranging consequences for car owners

But the way some Kias and Hyundais are being targeted makes insurance a bigger issue for these particular car owners, even if they haven’t had their car stolen. When risk increases, insurance rates also increase.

“It also depends on the insurer and their experience with claims, but if a business has had a lot of losses from customers who own a vehicle that could be stolen for parts etc, it could lead to higher premiums,” Worters said. “We’re already seeing this with certain car models that are most often stolen.”

Resale values ​​could also take a hit now that these vehicles are widely believed to be at a higher risk of theft, says Christine Hines, legislative director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. “It won’t be worth what it should be worth if they want to sell it, and that’s not fair.”

The circumstances of the national trend underscore the responsibility of automakers to act, Hines says.

“It’s something they could have expected since most other manufacturers had these anti-theft devices,” says Hines. “You just don’t want people to be at risk. It’s about the manufacturers. They should act quickly to keep their customers safe. »

How to prevent car theft

With car theft of all kinds on the rise during the pandemic, all car owners should take precautions to avoid falling victim to them. The NICB recommends making sure insurance policies are up to date, taking valuables with you or keeping them out of sight when you leave your car, locking your car when unoccupied, and park in well-lit areas.

If you own a 2011-2021 Kia or Hyundai, check with your automaker about your specific vehicle to find out if you’re at higher risk of car theft and what the automaker will do to help you.

  • Kia owners can call customer assistance at 1-800-333-4542.

  • Hyundai owners should call 800-633-5151.

The free steering wheel locks that Kia and Hyundai provide are a visible deterrent that could prevent someone from entering your vehicle in an attempt to steal it.

Since Oct. 1, Hyundai has also been selling Compustar glass break sensor security kits designed to keep thieves out of vehicles, according to statements emailed to NerdWallet. Car owners who want the kit will need to pay $170, plus installation, at a Hyundai dealer or Compustar installer.

Hyundai then plans to release a software update in 2023 intended to provide additional security to the targeted vehicles.

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