WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Two major car insurers are planning to drop coverage for some Kia and Hyundai models due to a spike in vehicle thefts related to a TikTok challenge, according to reports.
“I was kind of rather appalled about it,” Angel Borges, owner of Angel’s Auto Car Center in Mangonia Park, told WPTV.
Borges is talking about a challenge that went viral on TikTok last year showcasing how to break into certain Kia and Hyundaimodels from 2015 to 2019 due to their lack of electronic immobilizers that often hinder a thief’s ability to steal a car.
“Right off the bat, I thought why is even TikTok allowing this to be viewed,” Borges said.
This week, both State Farm and Progressive confirmed to CNN that they no longer write policies for these vehicles, because they lack this feature.
Data shows this has led to a 300% spike in thefts of these vehicles over the past two years in some cities.
“The device is not there at all. You have no immobilizer. All you have is a mechanical key that you stick in and turn and you can start it up,” Borges said.
This makes it easier for thieves to break into cars and hot wire them, often using a USB cord.
“People are always hungry for that inside hack, that tip, that trick, secret that no one else knows about,” Carl Gould, a business analyst and president of financial firm 7 Stage Advisors, said.
Gould said the good news is the insurance change is likely temporary.
In a statement to CNN, State Farm confirmed the temporary halting of writing insurance policies in some states for certain Kia and Hyundai models.
Progressive also confirmed to CNN that they are making changes, which includes increasing rates and limiting the sale of new insurance policies for owners of these vehicles.
“They won’t be able to stick with that. State regulators will come in and say you simply can’t do that, because of social media," Gould said. "What they’ll do is they’ll make a recommendation, because one of the statistics showed as soon as the immobilizers were retrofitted into the cars that the percentage of thefts plummeted.”
To have an immobilizer installed in your vehicle, it’ll cost around $250.
Gould also suggests parking your vehicle inside, if you can, and Borges has one more tip.
“Buy a club. That’s the one that you stick on your steering wheel, put a lock and key on there and you’re done," Borges said. "So, even if they break your ignition switch, they can’t steer the vehicle.”