Car insurance can cover the cost to replace lost and stolen keys, plus car lock repairs and replacement.
If you’ve ever lost your car keys - or they’ve been stolen - you’ll know what an inconvenience it can be.
As car key technology advances , getting replacements can take more time and cost a lot more, too.
Car key cover is designed to help pay for the costs associated with repairing or replacing lost, stolen or damaged keys. In some cases, it can also pay towards the cost of alternative transport while you wait for a new key to be made for your car.
A comprehensive car insurance policy might include key cover as standard.
Mostly, it’s sold as an add-on to either your home or car insurance and is often designed to cover both your house and car keys.
There are also specialist standalone key cover policies you can buy.
Every policy is different, but most will cover you for the replacement or repair of lost, stolen or damaged keys, in many cases up to a cost of £1,500.
Car key insurance can also help if your keys are locked in your vehicle, or if they’re broken in the car ignition. You may want to check whether this is covered by your breakdown cover first, though.
Some policies will pay out for replacement locks and the reprogramming of your immobiliser if your keys have been stolen.
You may also be able to claim up to a certain amount daily for car hire, public transport or taxi fares if your keys are lost or stolen and your car is stranded. This cover could be valid for a few days or until your new keys are made and programmed.
Some policies offer access to 24-hour emergency assistance.
In many cases, there’s no excess payable on car key insurance and making a claim shouldn’t affect your no-claims bonus. But check your policy before you make a claim.
If your car keys are stolen, the theft must to be reported to the police and you’ll need a crime reference number to make a claim.
As with most insurance policies, damage to locks and keys that’s the result of wear and tear isn’t covered. Mechanical or electrical breakdown of the locks probably won’t be included either.
Also, you may not be covered for incidents where only your car locks are damaged and not the keys as well.
Claims for thefts that aren’t reported within 48 hours, or where you don’t have a crime reference number, won’t be covered either.
It’s also important to know that car key insurance won’t necessarily cover you if your car keys were lost, stolen or damaged when they were in the possession of someone other than you or a family member living at your address - a friend, for example.
Car key insurance is also not designed for you to make a claim to receive additional or duplicate keys.
And in some cases, car key insurance won’t cover you if you’ve simply misplaced your keys - check your policy carefully.
According to Checkatrade, the average cost of replacing car keys is £252.
It also found that the average cost of a key replacement for a Toyota Prius is £3,000, because electronic units inside the car will need to be replaced as well as the keys.
Ultimately, the price depends on the make and model of car and the type of key.
Sophisticated keys with enhanced security features and those that need reprogramming, such as keyless entry, smart keys, transponder keys and flip button remotes, will usually cost considerably more.
Stolen keys must be reported to the police immediately, a delay could result in your claim being invalid.
Next, call your insurer as they can advise you on what you’re covered for, what exactly you can claim for and what next steps to take.
If you don’t have car key insurance, you can call a franchised car dealer for replacement keys. But this can take time and be expensive.
Otherwise, an auto locksmith can help. They can come to you, provide a replacement key and reprogram your car so that the lost or stolen key can’t be used any more.
You’ll need to provide documents that prove you own the vehicle, plus your driving licence and your car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which you’ll find on your V5 vehicle registration document.
It depends on the terms of your policy.
But, in many cases, you should be able to make multiple claims per policy per year, providing the total sum payable doesn’t exceed the cover limit - often around £1,500 or £2,000.
Invest in a key finder app or Bluetooth tracking device, such as Tile, to attach to your keys. It can find your keys on a map and the device rings when you get close
Designate a bowl or hooks in a cupboard especially for your keys and get into the habit of popping them there every time you get home. Just make sure they’re not visible from your external doors
Get at least one spare car key cut and programmed for your car
Keyless fobs are a gamechanger for unlocking your car with your hands full, but they can be a headache if they get lost or stolen. You'll probably have to go to your car's manufacturer to get a replacement, which can be time-consuming and expensive"Ryan Fulthorpe, GoCompare car insurance expert