Imagine you’re on a weekend break and you get your car keys out so you can lock your car, only to fumble and watch them drop down a drain. And you don’t have a spare set with you.
The cost and nuisance associated with sorting out the situation would be high up the order of annoying, everyday, things that can happen.
Car Keys are costly to replace
As cars have become more sophisticated over the years and old-fashioned ‘keys’ are replaced by fobs, which are essentially mini-computers, and more complicated more traditional keys, the cost of replacing them has risen.
These days it can set you back upwards of five hundred pounds or more for a completely new set for some car models.
But what do you do if you’ve lost your keys, or don’t have your spare set with you and need to use your car fast?
Here are a number of ways to ensure that if the worst does happen, and you’re left without your car keys, either at home or away, you can get a new set quickly and (hopefully!) at the least possible cost.
Get a new set cut on the high street
Of course, the easiest way to get a new set of keys is to have them copied from an existing set. In most circumstances, this would be if you had one existing set, but wanted the surety (as most people do) of a spare.
The cheapest option would be to use a high street key cutting company, who offer a car key service, as some others do as well.
These companies usually charge between £60 and £100 for a standard set of car keys, but this wouldn’t include any ability to lock the car at the press of the fob.
The cost depends on make and model and in some instances it might actually be more cost-effective to go to the local dealership.
Getting a set cut on the high street is really only viable if your car has a ‘proper’ metal key of some sort; if it’s an electronic fob, you won’t be able to and would have to go to the car manufacturer’s nearest dealership.
Buy a new set from the car dealer
This is usually the most expensive option. Car dealers know many people who need new keys might be in a difficult situation which needs remedying fast, and therefore charge a high price.
In their defence, the manufacturers claim that there’s hi-tech work needed to programme the new set of keys so that your particular car responds to the set for alarm and remote locking purposes.
Either way, it’s not cheap. The average cost is around £150 to £200, while for some relatively commonly owned cars it’s as much as £500.
Claim on your Car Insurance
There’s a possibility that you’ll be covered for the loss of car keys, or damage to them, by your car insurance. However, don’t take this for granted as it depends on your insurer and policy.
Some policies provide replacement keys as standard with fully comprehensive cover, but many don’t.
Claim limits are around £1,000 with most, but some offer unlimited cover.
In recognition that the cost of replacement keys might not be more than the excess you have to pay on your cover, many insurers wave it when it comes to car keys.
If you don’t have key cover as standard, you’ll probably be able to have it included as an ‘add on’ by simply calling your insurer and paying a small sum.
Stand-alone Car Key Cover
You might want to buy a general key cover policy to include all the keys you use, such as for your main home, or any second home you own, or any garages and lock ups, or bicycles and other vehicles that you have.
Or you might just want it for the car you own as your existing insurer doesn’t offer key cover, but you don’t want to move to an insurer which does.
In both scenarios, stand-alone key insurance is available. While it often costs more than buying an ‘add on’ to existing insurance, it’s usually more comprehensive, with more generous claim limits and a greater amount of protection and help on offer, such as rapid response if you face a key emergency and the ability to get keys to you just about wherever you are fast.
Use a Breakdown Service
Many people opt to have breakdown insurance and it usually covers you if you lock your car keys somehow in your car, whether that’s in the boot or main part of the car.
However, if you’ve simply lost your keys, or had them stolen, the breakdown teams won’t be able to get your car going again without them.
Some breakdown insurance includes getting spares to you from your home via family members or those you’ve appointed on the insurance to assist in such situations.
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Published 7 August 2014