Replacement car key insurance

A set of car keys

The right replacement key cover on your car insurance could help with lost and stolen keys, car hire and transportation of a stranded vehicle to a repairer.

Main points

  • Not all policies cover lost and/or stolen keys - it may be an optional extra, it may not be available at all
  • Levels of cover vary widely between policies that do offer cover
  • Some insurers may cover the costs of car hire and/or transportation of a stranded vehicle
  • Check whether an excess is charged and if a claim would impact on your no claims discount

The loss or theft of your vehicle's keys or control fob has the potential to leave you both stranded and significantly out of pocket.

What's more, improvements in vehicle security and the growth of smart key technology - with programmed chips controlling locks, alarms, immobilisers and ignitions - seems to have only increased the problems and cost when things go wrong.

The right replacement key insurance could help you deal with both the practical problems and the expense, but note that all policies differ and the levels of support offered by some insurers may fall short of what you expect.

Replacement key cover is included as standard on some car insurance policies and is an optional extra on others, but note that some may not offer this cover at all, and that levels of cover vary significantly.

"Today, losing your car keys tends to require a great deal more than a quick trip to a local locksmith," said's Matt Oliver.

Generally speaking, policies won't cover claims that exceed the market value of your car
Matt Oliver,

"The use of smart technology in keys and other keyless devices means that, for some vehicles, the only way to get a replacement is through the manufacturer - which can be both time-consuming and expensive.

"Key insurance is often included in comprehensive car insurance policies or is available as a top-up for an additional premium.

"But cover varies considerably between policies so it's important that you read the terms and conditions to see what you are and aren't covered for.

"Remember that, generally speaking, policies won't cover claims that exceed the market value of your car."

What's covered by replacement key insurance?

Policies covering lost or stolen keys generally cover the costs (up to the sum insured) of locksmith charges, new locks and replacement keys.

Some insurers also cover car hire charges and transportation of your car to the nearest repairer.Car

Policies differ in their approach to whether claims impact on a driver's no claims discount and whether an excess is applied.

Lost keys

On 29 September, 2014, analysed 237 fully comprehensive car insurance policies listed on the matrix of independent financial researcher Defaqto.

It was found that just 50% of policies provided cover for lost keys - 28% offered such cover as an optional extra for which a fee was charged, and 22% provided no cover for lost keys at all.

Of those covering lost keys (whether as standard or optional cover), pay-outs varied widely - from £100 to unlimited - but 56% offered more than £500 worth of cover, and most fell in the £500-£1,500 bracket.

Theft of keys

In's September 2014 study, 87% of policies provided cover for theft of keys as standard, 10% offered this as an optional extra (costing between £12 and £26.50) and 3% offered no cover at all.

Did you know...?

  • The vast majority of policies exclude cover for theft of a car where keys are left in, or on, an unoccupied vehicle

Levels of cover again varied widely, with some only paying out £100 but most offering cover of £500 or more.

Keys left at an unattended car

Note that the vast majority of policies in's study (97%) excluded cover for theft of a car where the keys were either left in, or on, an unoccupied vehicle.

So, for example, most insurers would refuse to pay a theft claim if you parked your car on a garage forecourt and left it unlocked with the keys in the ignition while you went into the kiosk to pay for your fuel.

How do I get key insurance quotes?

When you use's car insurance comparison service you'll be asked to fill in a quick form with details such as your name, address, occupation, any driving convictions and the type of insurance you want.

Top tip

  • When you buy a car, always ask for two sets of keys

We then search over 120 insurance brands and present the quotes on your results page. By clicking on the 'more info' button on the results you're interested in, you'll be able to see which insurers offer key cover.

How can I keep my keys safe?

By taking a few sensible precautions, you can reduce the chances of losing your keys or of having them stolen in the first place:

  • Never keep your spare keys in your car glove box (you'd be amazed how many drivers do!)
  • Don't leave car keys on view - such as on kitchen or hall tables - when you go to bed
  • When you buy a car, always ask the dealer or previous owner for two sets of keysVan insurance
  • Don't keep all your car keys on the same fob

"Take good care of your car keys and protect them from accidental loss and opportunistic thieves," said Oliver.

"Treat them like you would any other valuable - don't put your name, address or registration details on the key fob and, when out and about, don't leave them unattended in your bag or jacket pocket.

"Also, make sure your keep your spare key in a safe place indoors - don't leave it in the glove-box."

If you want to know more about keeping your car protected, read our guide to car security and your insurance premiums.

By Sean Davies