Many of the automaker’s models made between 2015 and 2021 don’t have an engine immobilizer.
A TikTok challenge is at the origin of a surge of Hyundai and Kia thefts in the US.
Owners won’t be able to get a new policy from State Farm in five US States.
Faced with a wave of Kia and Hyundai Thefts in the United States over the last two years, State Farm has decided to refuse coverage to new owners in five States.
According to the company, vehicles from these two brands are about twice as likely to be stolen than the average of every vehicle in the country, with a claim rate of 2.18 per 1,000 insured vehicle years (equivalent to 1 vehicle insured for a year).
This is because many Hyundai and Kia vehicles built between 2015 and 2021 and equipped with a mechanical key (as opposed to a push-button start system) do not feature an engine immobilizer.
This technology was introduced during the 1990s and by 2015, 96% of new vehicles sold in the United States came with an immobilizer as standard. However, only 26% of all 2015 Hyundai and Kia models had an immobilizer as standard.
Neither company has explained why it chose to skip this simple but effective protection against theft, but this problem has now been rectified by making the immobilizer standard on all of their models in late 2021.
This action was prompted by a large wave of thefts that started in Milwaukee two years ago and spread to all parts of the United States via social media, notably on TikTok.
Indeed, numerous videos showing how to steal these vehicles with a screwdriver or a USB cable have been posted, and taking a stolen Hyundai or Kia model for a joyride quickly became a challenge among some TikTok users.
The spread of this wave of thefts is what pushed State Farm to stop issuing new policies for 15 different models sold between 2015 and 2021 in Louisiana, Georgia, Oregon, Washington, and Pennsylvania.
The affected models are:
- 2015 to 2021 Hyundai Accent, Elantra, Kona, Santa Fe, Sonata, and Tucson.
- 2015 to 2018 Hyundai Veloster.
- 2015 to 2021 Kia Forte, Optima, Rio, Sedona, Soul, and Sportage
- 2015 to 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid and Sorento.
It is important to note that Hyundai and Kia vehicles sold new in Canada, even when equipped with a mechanical key, have been fitted with an immobilizer for many years already, which means that the vulnerability to theft observed in the US is not present in Canada.