Can I claim my lost car keys on insurance?

You can often claim lost keys on car insurance under comprehensive coverage. However, it's good to check with your insurance company about key coverage before it happens.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 16, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Replacing lost keys can be expensive
  • If the key is stolen, this is likely covered under your comprehensive insurance
  • It’s a good idea to ask your insurance company about key coverage before it happens

Losing your keys can be a very expensive mistake. Whether you misplaced them or someone has run off with keys on purpose, it can be very frustrating to have a vehicle that you do not have the tools to operate.

The solution would be to order a new set of keys, but once you look for locksmith services or dealerships, you will learn that the cost for an ignition key or door key is a lot higher than you might have guessed.

It might sound like an exaggeration, but some of today’s vehicle models come with keys that can cost you upwards of $500 just to replace.

Luckily, there are ways to avoid paying for the cost out of your own pocket. If you carry the right insurance, there is a possibility that lost or stolen keys will be covered under the benefit.

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Why does it cost so much to replace car keys?

Getting a copy of a key for your home does not cost a fortune, so why is there such a high cost associated with losing car keys?

The answer to your very relevant question is quite simply put technology.

Before the 90s, losing the car keys was not a big deal. You could find a replacement car key at any hardware store, or auto locksmith, and of course car dealership.

It was quite easy to replace a key because it was just a simple metal key that you could put in the ignition tumbler and turn on. Even though this type of key might still exist on modern vehicles, there is usually a transponder inside the key housing that acts as a layer of security.

As the number of vehicle thefts has risen, the need for advanced key technology has grown. These advancements in technology have made the price of car key replacements much costlier.

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What’s the cost of smart keys?

If outfitted with a laser, switchblade, or smart key, you can expect to pay an exorbitant key replacement cost. When you have a smart car that comes with a smart key, it sounds great.

The key will give you the power to start the ignition, trigger the alarm and disable the engine by pressing a button.

These keys also programmed to trigger the doors to unlock when the sensor is activated so you do not even have to press a button.

Not only must you pay for the expensive replacement device, you also need to take this device to your dealer to have it programmed so that it can only be used on your vehicle.

Since the key uses rolling codes to prevent theft, they can cost a pretty penny to replace. The replacement key itself can cost upwards of $200.

Add in the fact that you must pay the cost charged by the dealer for key programming, and you are already in the hole over $300.

If you must have your car towed to the dealer just for programming, this is an additional cost adding up to over $500.

Will your insurance pay for these costs?

Are lost car keys covered by insurance? Whether your lost keys will be covered on your personal auto insurance policy depends on a list of factors. Many times, the policies on key claims will vary from company to company.

Companies that are dedicated to customer satisfaction may have more favorable terms and conditions on things like key replacement, but that does not mean that it will definitely be covered.

Some policies automatically provide cover for your keys, but others require that you add a special key fob replacement rider.

You should review your policy to see how the claims department will handle this claim and if optional riders are required before you ever need to file a claim.

How are claims for stolen keys handled?

If you know that you did not just misplace your keys, you can be confident to say that the keys were stolen. Carriers will handle claims for stolen key much differently than those that are simply misplaced.

If the key is stolen, this is likely covered under your comprehensive insurance.

A theft of keys presents unique challenges. You not only need to pay for the replacement key, you also need to worry about the security of your car when you are not watching.

This is why insurers might pay for the following after a stolen key incident:

  • Cost to replace the ignition key
  • Cost to replace the door keys
  • Cost to re-key the vehicle to prevent theft

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Is there a deductible for a key claim?

If your keys are lost, it is likely that the claim will be classified as a comprehensive loss. A majority of claims are required to exceed the deductible that you carry.

In some cases, the carrier will waive the deductible in special circumstances or for key or glass claims.

Check to see what your deductible is and if it is even worth filing a claim if it is high.

Another scenario where your insurer may pay for keys is when the car is stolen and recovered. Obviously, the fact that the car was stolen creates the need to file a claim. When it is recovered, you cannot expect the keys to be in the engine.

The insurer will need to help you recover by paying for the keys and repairing any damage that was done.

What are some other ways to pay for key replacements?

If you cannot file a claim, you should look into other coverage that you carry. Many times, your warranty provider will cover keys. If you have breakdown cover or roadside assistance, the plan may provide cover for a lockout and for a replacement.

This is something to consider before you pay for the new key fob. If you have already paid, some of these will offer reimbursements when you submit your bill.

If you are not happy with your current carrier, it is time to shop the market. Ask the hard-hitting questions and find a company with fair terms.

Start comparing car insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our FREE tool below!

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