Putting the Brakes on Car Theft: Hyundai and Kia’s $200 Million Settlement Sets a New Roadmap for Security
Hyundai Motor and Kia Corp have reached a settlement of $200 million in a consumer class-action lawsuit following a wave of car thefts involving their vehicles in the United States. The agreement was announced by lawyers representing the automakers and the affected owners on Thursday.
To address the increasing incidents of car theft, Hyundai and Kia had previously committed to providing software upgrades to approximately 8.3 million U.S. vehicles that lacked anti-theft immobilizers. The thieves had been exploiting a method that gained popularity on social media platforms like TikTok. This settlement will extend benefits to around 9 million U.S. owners, with up to $145 million allocated for out-of-pocket losses suffered by consumers whose cars were stolen.
Under the terms of the settlement, Hyundai and Kia will compensate owners for theft-related vehicle losses and damages. This includes reimbursement for insurance deductibles, increased insurance premiums, and other theft-related expenses. For vehicles that cannot support software upgrades, the automakers will offer up to $300 towards the purchase of theft deterrent devices such as steering wheel locks.
Steve Berman, an attorney representing the owners, emphasized the promptness of the benefits to those who have incurred losses. The settlement aims to provide relief as soon as possible. The urgency is understandable, considering the significant impact of these thefts. Regulatory authorities reported that TikTok videos demonstrating car theft methods without anti-theft devices have resulted in at least 14 crashes and eight fatalities in the United States.
Korean automakers Kia and Hyundai have agreed to an estimated $200 million class action legal settlement over claims that many of the companies’ cars and SUVs are much too easy to steal. https://t.co/IVJQfoUvHs
— CNN (@CNN) May 19, 2023
The settlement primarily applies to owners of Hyundai and Kia vehicles with a traditional “insert-and-turn” steel key ignition system, ranging from model years 2011 to 2022. It includes compensation for the total loss of vehicles, damage to both the vehicle and personal property, and various insurance-related expenses. Additionally, the settlement covers other related costs like car rental, transportation expenses not covered by insurance, towing fees, and penalties or fines incurred due to the theft of a vehicle.
Several major cities, including St. Louis, Cleveland, San Diego, Milwaukee, Columbus, Baltimore, and Seattle, have also taken legal action against Hyundai and Kia regarding car thefts. The resolution of the consumer class-action lawsuit represents a significant step towards addressing the issue and providing restitution for affected owners.