Lost car key cover through your insurance

We’ve all been there. One minute you were confidently jangling your car keys, the next they’re gone.

Losing your car keys can be infuriating, a logistical nightmare and frankly, a bit embarrassing. But it can also be expensive, particularly if you have smart keys or transponder keys that require programming to replace.

That’s why many car insurance policies now offer key cover as an optional extra. Read on to find out about getting a replacement if your car key is lost or stolen.

We’ve all been there. One minute you were confidently jangling your car keys, the next they’re gone.

Losing your car keys can be infuriating, a logistical nightmare and frankly, a bit embarrassing. But it can also be expensive, particularly if you have smart keys or transponder keys that require programming to replace.

That’s why many car insurance policies now offer key cover as an optional extra. Read on to find out about getting a replacement if your car key is lost or stolen.

Kate Hughes
Insurance expert
6
minute read
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Last Updated 12 SEPTEMBER 2022

What is car key cover?

Key cover, also known as car key insurance, typically covers the cost of replacing and reprogramming your car keys if they’re lost or stolen, as you might expect. But it can also cover the cost of replacing the locks and resetting the immobiliser, which you’ll need to do if you suspect your keys have been stolen.

It comes as part of a car insurance policy or can be added on for an additional cost. So as always, sift through the small print on your policy to check.

How much do replacement car keys cost?

The average replacement car key costs around £250. However, the exact cost will depend on the make and model of your car, as well as the type of key you need to replace.

According to the RAC, around 16 million drivers regularly misplace their keys. Around 2 million never found them again, and the overall cost of replacing car keys across the UK is a staggering £180 million every year.

The three common types of car key

Not all keys are created equal - far from it. If you remember having to replace a bog standard metal key sometime back in the 90s, you might be in for a shock if you need to replace today’s all singing-all dancing version.

A standard mechanical key is the cheapest to replace. However, if you have a more sophisticated key, the cost of replacement will be much higher. Here are the most common types of car key:

  • Mechanical keys – a basic key cut from metal, generally used on older cars. This type of key is the easiest to copy
  • Remote (smart) keys – allow you to unlock your car from a distance by a pressing a button. These sometimes have mechanical keys integrated and will still need to be put into the ignition to start the car
  • Transponder keys – more secure than a normal key, these contain a microchip that allows the car to recognise the key through a unique code. These don’t usually need to be put into the ignition to start the car.

Does lost key cover come as standard with car insurance?

Some car insurance providers may include key cover as standard with their comprehensive car insurance but not all do. If you have third party, fire and theft or third-party only insurance, it’s unlikely you’ll have key cover included. However, you can usually get it as an optional extra. Just be aware that you might need to pay an agreed excess. You know what we’re going to say next - check the details of your policy before you do anything rash.

What does car key insurance cover?

As usual, cover can and does vary between insurance providers, but most will include:

  • The cost for replacement keys up to a set limit
  • The cost of reprogramming your alarm and immobiliser
  • Taxi or public transport costs to help you get to your destination if left stranded – just remember to keep all the receipts
  • Car hire costs – if you’re unable to use your car because of lost or stolen keys
  • Locksmith’s charges
  • An emergency 24/7 helpline so you can get immediate help if your keys go missing. Check the terms and conditions carefully though, as some policies will only cover your car keys if they’re stolen – not if you just can’t remember where you left them.

What’s not covered by car key insurance?

Ah, now here’s the other important bit, because car key insurance may not cover:

  • Stolen car keys without a crime reference number – you’ll be given one when you report the theft to the police. Always, always get a crime number if you’re the victim of a crime because you’ll struggle to claim on any insurance policy for related losses without one.
  • Costs for the full replacement of locks if only one part needs to be fixed
  • Key or lock damage due to wear and tear
  • Additional keys
  • Locks that were already damaged before the theft took place
  • An upgraded version of the original locks or keys.

How much does extra car key insurance cost?

If it’s not already included in your car insurance policy, key cover costs from around £20 a year to add as extra cover.

It could be a compelling add-on, especially when you start totting up the cost of replacing modern car keys and arranging alternative transport while you wait for a new set.

What should I do if I do lose my car keys?

Don’t panic. Call your insurance provider who will be able to advise you what to do next.

If you don’t have key cover or decide not to make a claim, you’ll need to contact an auto locksmith. You’ll need proof that the car belongs to you, so make sure you have your driving licence and vehicle registration documents to hand.

Alternatively, if you have breakdown cover you might want to call for assistance.

Top tip

Plenty of people rely on their spare set of keys, which is entirely understandable. But remember that if you come to sell your car on, buyers and dealers will look more favourably on a price or the sale itself if the vehicle comes with both sets. Funnily enough, they know replacing keys can be expensive.

What should I do if my car keys have been stolen?

Report it to the police straight away. You’ll need the crime number they give you to make a claim with your car insurance provider.

If a set of keys has been stolen, including your house keys, you’ll also need to contact your home insurance provider.

What do I do if I’ve locked my keys in the car?

Some vehicles now alert you to the fact that your keys are still inside the car if you try to lock them in, but most don’t. Some car key insurance will cover the cost of getting your keys back if you accidentally lock them in the car. Alternatively, if you have breakdown cover you should be able to call your breakdown service for help getting into your car.

If you don’t have any cover, you’ll need to pay for a locksmith.

How can I find out which insurance providers offer lost car key cover?

We’re always here to help you compare your options. Use our car insurance comparison to see which policies offer key cover.

When you visit our quotes page, simply click the ‘more details’ button next to each policy to see if key cover is included as standard or whether you need to add it as an extra.

Frequently asked questions

Do I already have key cover?

You might have. Some home insurance policies include key cover and will typically cover both your house and car keys. Also, check your breakdown cover if you have it. Some policies have key replacement cover for keys that are lost, stolen or damaged. Check with your provider if you’re not sure – there’s no point in doubling up on cover if you already have it.

Does lost car key insurance cover broken keys?

It depends on your policy. Check carefully as you may not be covered for broken keys due to wear and tear.

Can I claim for both lost and stolen keys?

Car key insurance should cover the cost of replacing your keys if they’re stolen, however some policies won’t let you claim if you’ve simply misplaced your keys.

It’s also unlikely you’ll be covered if the keys were stolen by a family member or someone who lives in your house – such as a lodger.

Check your policy wording carefully for your insurance provider’s definition of lost or stolen and whether you’ll be eligible to claim or not.

How long does it take to get a replacement key?

It depends on the car model, type of key and the outlet, but you might need to wait several days for your replacement key to arrive.

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