Media outlets are reporting a Kia owner in Washington state has suddenly found herself without car insurance, even though she owns a Telluride, a model not tartgeted by “Kia Boys” theives.
NBC’s Washington affiliate KHQ reports that Venessa Russell was a customer of the insurance company Safeco, a division of Liberty Mutual Insurance, for the last five years. However, she received a sudden message from her broker stating that Safeco was declining to provide insurance quotes because her Kia was included in the policy.
“You pay every month, never missed a payment, and now they’re dropping you,” Russell said. Her Safeco broker said she was being dropped because of a trend on social media about stealing and carjacking Hyundai’s and Kia’s.
Late 2021 the TikTok platform was used to glorify the exploits of car thieves referred to as “Kia Boys.” They made videos showing how they could easily steal some models of Hyundai/Kia vehicles, using just a USB connector, after smashing a window to gain entry to the car, and violently ripping apart the car’s steering column collar. Unfortunately, the TikTok trend became popular and led to thousands of copycat thefts across the country. The automaker responded with a recall campaign to install immobilizer devices on models that originally did not come with one.
Now some car models, not even targeted by the Kia Boys criminals are being excluded from insurance simply because they are made by Hyundai or Kia. Russell owns a 2020 Kia Telluride, which has push-button start and a immobilizer on all variants. However, when she tried to get insurance from another company, owning a Telluride did not help her.
Unfortunately, the higher costs were not affordable, now being quoted as such as $7,200 a year for two cars and three drivers. She eventually found an insurer, but she couldn’t combine her home and auto insurance as she had done before.