For something so important, how is that car keys are so easy to lose? It must have happened at some point to even the most careful of motorists: that sinking feeling as a car key goes missing and the whole family is enlisted to turn the house upside down looking for it.
It’s not just the inconvenience of losing keys that is so maddening – there’s a real cost to it too. A modern car key is packed with technology that allows you to unlock your car from a distance, start the engine without removing the key from your pocket, and which contains a transponder which helps the car to recognise its unique key. Even a ‘regular’ modern replacement now costs around £300, although many of them are priced at much higher than that – perhaps over £1,000.
Key replacement is big business: a survey by the RAC motoring organisation showed that two million drivers had lost their key at least once, while one in 20 motorists had, at some point, said goodbye to a car key forever. The annual cost of replacing car keys in the UK is put at a shocking £180 million.
Key insurance, or key cover, is available from providers. It protects you against the financial loss of your car key, covering simple loss, through to theft or damage. Most policies will also provide you with the cost of a hire car, or use of a taxi or public transport, if you can’t get into your vehicle. You will almost certainly need alternative transport for a few days anyway, because most modern keys can take up to a week to be ordered, set up and delivered.
Key cover does not automatically come with your car’s insurance policy so it’s worth checking this when you are arranging vehicle cover. A policy can be taken out separately with your insurance provider, and there are specialist companies available too, to provide you with cover which you can add other keys too – such as your house’s.
The Car Expert has put together this list of potential websites that offer key cover and locked-in peace of mind all year round.
They say: Comprehensive cover for lost or stolen keys
ALA Insurance is best known as a GAP insurance provider but they offer lots of other useful cover too. Scroll down on their landing page and you’ll find, hiding at the bottom, items such as ‘scratch & dent’, ‘excess cover’, tyre & alloy wheel’ and ‘keycare’.
Clicking on the latter tab takes you to the specialist ‘ALA Keycare’ section. They provide cover for lost or stolen keys with a 24-hour, 365-day helpline.
There are two types of cover available: one including a ‘standard’ keyfob containing instructions on how to get missing keys back to their owner (you) and the other, a more comprehensive service that has a ‘SmartFob’ which links with your mobile phone to make keys easier to locate or be returned.
It covers all keys attached to the fob(s) and includes reprogramming of infrared handsets, immobilisers and alarms. Replacement keys and a locksmith, if necessary are included while there’s optional cover for vehicle hire charges.
Cover applies all over the world and applies to immediate family who live at the same address as the policyholder, with a maximum £1,500 limit over 12 months. Pricing is via a ‘Quote me’ tab on the website.
They say: Keys, We’ve Got You Covered
Sign up to Keycare and you get a unique identifier which can help to reunite you with your car key if it goes missing. The company handles the return to you, and offers a £10 reward to the finder if the keys are handed in.
Of course, some keys never turn up again or are stolen and lost forever. If that happens the Keycare insurance gives up to £1,500 of cover to replace keys, locks and pay for locksmith charges.
There’s a 24-hour emergency helpline, £50 a day for up to three days hire car use and up to £100 ‘onward transport costs’ to help get you and your car to your original destination. The service costs £2.50 per month and seems a popular choice: Keycare says two million people insure their keys with them.
The company also sells ‘SmartFob’ an app-based system which tracks and traces your keys, and there’s also ‘Keycare Plus’ which extends beyond keys and provides tracking of mobile phone, wallet and/or purse. There’s no recovery or insurance element to these though.
They say: Award-winning reliable insurance
There are all sorts of products on offer from Arkwright insurance brokers, including more unusual ones such as left-hand-drive cover, prestige car, convicted driver and static caravan insurance.
Scroll down on the landing age and you’ll find a big list of insurance products on offer and, tucked away in there, is ‘Keycare Cover’.
Covering the cost of lost or damaged keys and locks, the system works using the keyfob principle. If your keys are found the company pays a reward to the finder and gets your keys recovered and returned to you, with the help of a 365 days a year helpline number.
A maximum £1,500 of cover is provided which includes all keys attached to the special fob, replacement key, locksmith fees, and reprogramming of immobilisers. There’s also cover of the cost of onward transport if your car is not usable.
There is no excess to pay and, as it’s a separate policy, your normal No Claims Discount will not be affected if you make a claim.
As with many providers, pricing is not given on the site, but you can ask for a quote using a website button or by calling the company’s help team.
A Choice Insurance
They say: Take the hassle away from losing your keys
Based in the Midlands, A Choice Insurance specialises in high risk drivers such as learners, young motorists and people who have had convictions. And if you do take a motor insurance policy out with them, you can opt to embellish it with key cover too. Please note that they don’t sell the insurance on its own.
It covers the key replacement, lock replacement and locksmith charges and includes not just your car but your house keys too, up to a total of £1,500. There’s three days of vehicle hire (£40 a day) available if the car can’t be driven along with £75 financial assistance for onward transport costs.
There are also accommodation costs up to £120 if you can’t get into your house and a UK helpline to assist with advice and guidance.
The policy covers keys belonging to any immediate family member living at the same address as the main policyholder and costs £17 for the year. This cover is separate from any motoring insurance bought from A Choice and therefore does not affect that cover’s No Claims Discount if you had to make a claim on it.
They say: Add key protection cover today
Rias is a car, home and travel insurance provider so the landing page doesn’t take you immediately to a key cover section. But type in ‘key cover’ to the search box and the offer of this specialist insurance – on top of your existing car or home cover – is described.
Top of the search results is ‘Car Insurance Key Protection Cover’. Click on this and you are taken to a simple-to-follow guide on what is on offer: total key cover for £19.99 a year. That includes car, home, office and even safe keys up to £1,500.
It includes reprogramming of alarms and immobilisers, lock and key replacements. You are only allowed one replacement key and one duplicate for each key covered but, for car owners, there is alternative transport available, such as roadside recovery to a new destination such as your home or a garage or within 20 miles distance.
There’s a 24-hour, 365 days a year help service and it’s worldwide cover for keys whether lost, damaged or stolen. General wear and tear is included. There’s a ‘Newsroom’ section with helpful tips and advice about Rias and its insurance products.
They say: Simplifying your insurance needs
Buy car insurance through Dial Direct and replacement of stolen car keys is already covered. However you can opt to upgrade your policy to include a much wider-ranging offering, called Keycare.
It includes your house keys, other vehicles such as motorbike keys and even keys you might have for padlocks. There’s a maximum of £1,000 on offer, with access to a national network of locksmiths.
You are covered for keys that are permanently lost, stolen or locked in a building or vehicle. The policy will pay for new locks and reprogramming of your car’s immobiliser, with no excess to pay. Wear and tear is not covered.
As the extra cover only comes with a car insurance policy, pricing is not available until a quote has been obtained.
*The Car Expert has a commercial partnership with ALA Insurance. If you click through to their site and buy anything, we may receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay, but helps us keep the site running.