Related: Does Auto Insurance Cover Theft?
New Orleans CBS affiliate WWL-TV says “two State Farm employees” provided it with the list. A spokesperson for the Louisiana Department of Insurance told the station it “has not been notified” of any restriction.
WWL-TV reports, “the restrictions apply in Georgia, Louisiana, Oregon, Washington, and Pennsylvania.” State Farm will not cancel existing policies, the station says.
You Can, And Many Should, Ask for an Inspection
State Farm’s restriction does include a workaround. The list allows State Farm agents to offer owners an insurance policy if the agent verifies the presence of a passive engine immobilizer through an inspection.
An engine immobilizer is a device that prevents a car from starting unless the corresponding transponder – built into the smart key – is present. Most modern cars use them.
Hyundai and Kia, both part-owned by South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Company, did not add them to the base model trims of their entire fleet until recently.
The distinction is vital since many models of these cars do have an engine immobilizer. A Kia spokesperson has clarified to us that only base models of most of the cars lack immobilizers. If your car has a remote entry – that is, if you can lock and unlock it with a button on the keyfob – it probably has an immobilizer, and even State Farm may insure it after an inspection.
Social Media Drives a Theft Wave
Thefts of older Hyundai and Kia vehicles soared in late 2021 after a series of social media videos taught viewers how to steal some models using a flathead screwdriver and a USB cable.
Since that information spread, theft claims for some Hyundai and Kia models have grown almost twice as common as thefts of vehicles made by other manufacturers.
Companies Working on Solutions
Hyundai dealers have begun to offer a retrofit kit that helps guard against theft. They charge $170 plus labor fees to install it.
Kia has begun providing free steering wheel locks through many police departments.
A Kia spokesperson, meanwhile, tells us the company “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.” The company expects to have the solution “for most affected vehicles by mid-2023.”
Clinton Mora is a reporter for Trending Insurance News. He has previously worked for the Forbes. As a contributor to Trending Insurance News, Clinton covers emerging a wide range of property and casualty insurance related stories.