KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — Two of the nation’s top insurance agencies are reportedly dropping coverage of some Kias and Hyundais as vehicle thefts remain rampant across the country.
Kent County is no exception in the new year.
When Cyndi Christian bought her brand-new Kia in 2020, she didn’t think she’d have to buy another car for a long time. Now, she wishes she made a different decision.
“I just wanted it to be my forever car,” Christian said.
Instead, it’s been a nightmare.
“Now I don’t want it,” she said.
Not just once, but two times now, Christian’s 2019 Kia Optima has been stolen outside her old apartment complex in Kentwood. Someone tried stealing it a third time too.
It all started July of last year when someone broke the back window and took off the steering column, but the car ultimately wasn’t stolen. She still had to take it in for repairs and got it back a month later.
In August, her car was taken in the middle of the night.
“I don’t want to get up in the morning and have my car be gone,” Christian said.
When she went to her leasing manager the next morning, she found out she wasn’t the only one.
“When I was there, there were two or three other people there that were reporting their car was stolen the same night,” Christian said. “Kias.”
She got the car back in October before it was stolen again the next month. Both times, the car was trashed, with busted windows, wood stripper poured all over the roof and damaged doors. The vehicle registration was also taken both times.
Christian paid more than $1,500 for repairs.
“If I want to go the grocery store, if I want to go the mall, I’m very cautious about where I park to make sure I’m hopefully under a light that has a camera,” Christian said. “It’s no way to live to have to think about it all the time.”
Now, she’s about to lose her insurance. Last week, Progressive sent her a letter saying her policy will expire Feb. 19.
“I don’t want a car payment,” Christian said. “But I don’t have a choice if I don’t have an insurance company to cover me.”
She’s not the only one losing insurance. Progressive and State Farm have now reportedly stopped giving out new insurance policies for certain models of Kias and Hyundais, citing rampant thefts nationwide.
State Farm confirmed the news in a statement to News 8, saying it “became necessary to take action to protect our policyholders and our business.”
“State Farm has temporarily stopped accepting new customer applications in some states for certain model years and trim levels of Hyundai and Kia vehicles because theft losses for these vehicles have increased dramatically. This is a serious problem impacting our customers and the entire auto insurance industry.
“We take seriously our responsibility to manage risk and the impact of excess claim costs on all our customers. In this case, it became necessary to take action to protect our policyholders and our business.
“We are monitoring this situation very closely and will adjust our approach as appropriate.
For information on auto theft, we recommend reaching out to the Insurance Information Institute and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.”
State Farm said it’s doing this in “some states” but did not say if Michigan is included or which models are impacted.
News 8 has reached out to State Farm and Progressive asking if Michigan is impacted by the changes both companies are making.
Brian Boer, an advisor with Boer Insurance Group in Plainfield Township, said large insurance companies making a move like that is particularly unusual.
“Some of the regional, smaller insurance companies, they try to niche themselves out a little more,” Boer said. “But for two large companies like that, that is very unusual.”
“You’ll see insurance companies say, ‘I don’t want to insure that type of Lamborghini, we’re not going to insure that Maserati,’” Boer added. “That’s just not their market. They’re not going for the high-end luxury vehicles. But for kind of the everyday vehicle like the Kias and Hyundais we’re hearing about, it’s very unusual to see insurance companies just pumping the brakes and say, ‘We’re not offering coverage going forward.’”
Boer said that insurance companies still covering Kias and Hyundais could still raise prices.
“They’re going to see rising insurance costs specific to those vehicles based on all those claims that are being paid,” Boer said. “Even the companies that are still offering coverage on those vehicles, anywhere that you have more claims being paid, that money has to come from somewhere. It’s going to be reflected in the insurance costs for that vehicle.”
In Kent County, Kia and Hyundai thefts remain high in the new year.
This month, the Grand Rapids Police Department has responded to 109 vehicle thefts or attempted vehicle thefts, nearly half of them being Kias and Hyundais. The Kent County Sheriff’s Office has dealt with 41 stolen cars so far this month, with 12 of them being Kias or Hyundais.
In 2022, GRPD responded to 1,316 vehicle thefts in total, and 765 of them involved Kias or Hyundais. The Kent County Sheriff’s Office dealt with 415 stolen vehicles, with 112 of them being Kias or Hyundais.
“I go from being so angry to frustrated then sad,” Christian said. “Because I can take care of it. But there’s probably people who can’t take care of it if their car is stolen. Or if they can’t pay the deductible. Or don’t have renter’s insurance or car rental insurance. I try to consider myself lucky that I can take care of it, but it still makes me mad.”