Action 9: Insurer Denies Stolen Car Claim Because Man Had Keys

None — A man whose car was stolen said he became a suspect in the eyes of his insurer because he had the keys.

Mike Kuchinburris said he couldn't believe the insurance company denied his stolen car claim.

Police found his Jeep Cherokee 20 miles away, torched, the same weekend he reported it stolen.

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Kuchinburris said Nationwide rejected the claim because he had both keys. The company said the Jeep couldn't have been stolen without his involvement, Kuchinburris said.

"They're blaming me," he said.

Kuchinburris had keys with transponders, meaning there are electronic chips inside that communicate with the car's computer to start it.

There are at least a dozen currently cases in courts in which an insurance company rejected stolen car claims over keys.

"If you have two keys in your pocket and your car is gone, you're not going to get paid by your insurer," attorney Hans Keenan said.

Keenan said the Jeep was paid off and that Kuchinburris had nothing to gain from stealing his own car. He was ready to show a jury that transponder keys can slow but not stop thieves.

In a demonstration, car repair expert Jay Zimbauer showed how easy it was to start a car without the keys. He created a duplicate transponder key, started the Jeep in less than five minutes and drove off.

"$200 in parts of the Internet and away you go," Zimbauer said. "You can steal multiple cars."

The jury ruled in Kuchinburris' favor and ordered Nationwide to pay.

The company declined comment on the verdict.

Kuchinburris collected only the fair market value of the Jeep, four years after his claim was initially denied.

He now wants others to know if their car is stolen and they still have the keys, they could suffer the same ordeal.