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What is key insurance and do I need it?

Modern car keys can cost hundreds of pounds to replace, so should you consider buying key insurance?


Have you ever gone to leave your home, the office or a friend’s house and discover you can’t find your car keys?

Cue mad panic and blood running cold as you turn the place upside down, trying to find them. And that’s not just because of the inconvenience of being unable to open and start your car and drive away – but you’re probably already totting up the cost of a possible replacement.

Modern car keys are no longer just a piece of cut metal that you stick in the vehicle’s door and turn to unlock it. Today’s keys are highly technical pieces of equipment – some don’t even need to come out of your pocket to use, operating instead using ‘keyless entry’ capability. These don’t come cheap.

And key replacement is big business: the average price of a substitute car key is £252, according to workforce specialists Checkatrade, while a recent survey by the RAC motoring organisation showed that two million drivers had lost their key at least once.

So how about some key insurance? Just as with the car itself and many of its components (windscreen, tyres, alloy wheels) you can buy insurance cover for your car keys and – similar to screen cover – it might not automatically lose you your no claims discount.

What is key insurance?

Key insurance, or key cover, protects you against the loss of your car keys. Cover can extend to straight loss, theft or damage and because you could end up being stranded if you can’t get into your car, the cost of a hire car, or use of a taxi or public transport should also be provided.

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.

Does it come with my car insurance?

Not necessarily. Some policies offer it as part of the car premium, while other insurers will provide the cover but at an extra cost. Additionally, there are specialist companies that can offer it as stand-alone cover and can then include other keys with it, such as your house’s.

Is it worth having?

Certainly with the cost of replacement car keys rising, it might be worth considering. Much depends on the type of key you have and the make of car that it belongs to.

An older car with a ‘standard’ key can probably be re-cut easily in a specialist shop but anything over and above that and you’re looking at an expensive replacement.

Some keys come with a security chip inside them that the car recognises, others have a ‘flip’ mechanism that allows them to fold inside a protective casing, some are push-button only, while the most technical are the ‘keyless’ types. So, forget hundreds of pounds – depending on which one you require, a replacement could run into thousands.

“The car keys of today are far more technologically advanced than their predecessors of 10 or 20 years ago,” says Caroline King, customer operations director at cover provider Ageas Insurance.

“Key cover can provide peace of mind that if your keys are lost or stolen, your insurer can get you back on the road quickly and with minimal disruption.”

What’s the cost?

Insurance cover for keys usually costs around £20 a year, and for that you will get a number of benefits. Check that you have all you need when you come to buy. Cover should include:

  • the cost of the new set of keys. There will be a limit on this – typically £1,500
  • the cost of re-programming an immobiliser or any other car feature that ‘talks’ to your keys
  • travel costs such as taxis, public transport or a hire car, while your own vehicle is off the road
  • an emergency dedicated helpline so that you can get immediate help if your keys go missing

Avoid the problem in the first place

When you buy a new car, and often a used one, you will get two keys. The second key is invaluable – so keep it in a safe place somewhere so that if you do lose your main one, help is at hand – even if you have to take a bus or taxi ride to go and get it!

Tom Johnston
Tom Johnstonhttp://johnstonmedia.com/
Tom Johnston was the first-ever reporter on national motoring magazine Auto Express. He went on to become that magazine’s News Editor and Assistant Editor, and has also been Motoring Correspondent for the Daily Star and contributor to the Daily and Sunday Express. Today, as a freelance writer, content creator and copy editor, Tom works with exciting and interesting websites and magazines on varied projects.
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