DENVER — Owners of some of the most-stolen vehicle makes in Denver are facing more problems after at least one major insurance company says the risk is too high to insure them.
Progressive Insurance said it has restricted offering coverage on new policies in the Denver area on certain models of the Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia because of the alarming rate by which these vehicles are getting stolen in the Denver area.
Customers looking to receive a quote on the company’s website receive a message stating: “Based on the vehicle information provided, we are unable to offer you a policy at this time.”
A Denver insurance agent told Denver7 that Progressive Insurance has placed restrictions on certain Hyundai/Kia models due to their high theft rates in the city, where they are among the most-stolen vehicles.
A spokesperson for Progressive Insurance told Denver7 the risk to insure these vehicle is just too high at this time.
"We’re committed to providing affordable insurance solutions for consumers based on the particular level of risk while also ensuring our policies are accurately priced. Due to the theft risk that some Hyundai and Kia vehicles present, in many cases it makes these vehicles difficult to insure, so we have adjusted our acceptance criteria for new business on some of these models. We’ll continue to monitor how this issue plays out, and are hopeful to be able to revisit our decision if the theft risk diminishes and community awareness improves," the company statement said.
Progressive did not provide specific details on these new restrictions, including years or models impacted.
Denver Hyundai and Kia owners are also seeing an increase in premiums from insurance companies.
Carole Walker with the Rocky Mountain Insurance Association said it’s unfortunate for owners of these vehicles, but insurance companies need to contain risk to keep premium costs low for their other customers.
“They're also looking at the market that we're in,” Walker said. “Colorado now tops the list for auto theft. So, your car insurance company is looking at that risk, determining the premium, how much it will cost to repair and replace that vehicle, but also how likely is it to get stolen, and then destroyed or damaged when it is stolen.”
And the way these cars are getting stolen — using a USB stick — and just how easy it is to do, is getting a lot of attention on social media sites like TikTok.
Videos posted to the app under "Kia challenge" or "Kia Boyz" show stolen cars with steering column covers removed and USB cables placed in the ignition.
A spokesperson for the Colorado Metropolitan Auto Theft Task Force told Denver7 thieves have used USB cables to steal cars for years but the viral videos have caused the crime to increase.
In Denver alone, from 2018 to Aug. 7 of this year, auto thefts have skyrocketed by nearly 160%, according to Denver's crime map, and various Hyundai and Kia models ranked in the top 10 of the most commonly stolen cars in the state during the first quarter of this year.
Insurance companies look at this data and decide just how much of a risk it is to insure these owners or if it’s worth the risk at all.
“Unfortunately, when you have a model popular with thieves, that's something where insurance companies will decide the premium they charge, which will likely be higher,” Walker said. “And then whether they can insure that vehicle at all. They may just make a decision that that vehicle is too high of a risk for them to insure passing that on to their other customers.”
In statements to Denver7, both Kia and Hyundai said their 2022 models are equipped with immobilizer technology to prevent these sorts of thefts.
TikTok told Denver7 the viral trend violates its policies, and any videos pertaining to the crime will be removed from the platform.
Owners of these vehicles are forced into these situations but fortunately, there are options for those who are seeing higher premiums or denials.
“We always encourage Coloradans to shop around,” Walker said. “We're lucky to still have a considerable competitive insurance market in Colorado. So, one company that can't take on a certain risk, another company likely will.”