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A guide to stolen car keys

| Insurance

Having anything stolen can be quite disconcerting, whether it’s a mobile phone, purse or wallet, or even your car keys. These things can sometimes contain precious memories and photographs, but can also leave you in a sticky situation where you’re unable to use your car or have no form of ID.

Losing your car keys can be particularly worrying, especially if you’re unsure whether they’ve been taken, leaving your car at risk. If you’ve looked for your keys but believe that they have been stolen, you can use the information provided below to find out exactly what to do and whether the cost is covered by your car insurance.

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What to do when your car keys are stolen

If you know that your car keys have been stolen but your car is still in your possession, the first thing to do is report the crime to the police. They may be able to offer further advice around protecting your car, such as using a wheel lock, and will provide you with a crime reference number. This number can be used to track your case and it’s also likely that your car insurance provider will require this information in order to begin your claim.

The next step would be to contact your insurance provider to see if you’re covered for lost or stolen keys. Some providers offer key protection as standard, whereas for others it may be an optional extra that can be offered for an additional fee. With Age Co, replacement keys and locks are protected up to a value of £500 as standard, and it includes other keys too, such as home or office ones. If you wish to be covered for more than this, you can take out a higher level of key protection as an extra precaution. As with any insurance claim, an excess fee may be payable.

Top tip: bear in mind that if a set of keys has been stolen (including your house keys), you may also need to report the incident to your home insurance company to have the door locks changed.

If you have a spare set of keys available, it’s really important that you take your car to a professional locksmith to ensure that the car remains in your possession.

Depending on the type of keys, the locksmith may need to do a couple of things. Most cars now come with an electric fob that also contains a key to open the car manually. This means that not only will the car need to be issued with newly programmed keys, but the locks may have to be changed too. This may cost a little bit more, particularly if you no longer have a spare key in your possession.

Car fobs generally contain a microchip. This is what allows the car to open when the key is pushed, and why one key works for just one car. If you’ve had your keys stolen, the locksmith should also erase the car’s ‘memory’ so that it can’t recognise the keys. This means that the stolen key will no longer work.

Are stolen car keys covered by insurance?

Stolen car keys may be covered on some comprehensive insurance policies, however they generally aren’t covered on more basic policies, such as third party. As previously mentioned, you can often add key protection insurance to your current policy. While this may increase the cost of your insurance slightly, you may feel more at ease knowing that your car keys are protected, whether they’re lost or stolen.

Does insurance cover a stolen car if the keys were left in the ignition?

While cars can be stolen for all kinds of reasons and in lots of ways, will insurance still cover you if somehow you were at fault?

Just like home insurance providers might not cover you if burglars gain access through an open window, car insurance providers may not support your claim if you left the car unlocked or the keys in an unsafe place, such as in the ignition. Therefore, you might not be covered if a policy document, for example, states that you are not insured for theft if the vehicle was left unattended, the windows or doors were open or the keys were inside. This includes theft of the vehicle itself or items inside the vehicle, such as stereos, dash cams, etc.

How to get a replacement car key

There are a few ways you can go about getting a replacement car key should yours become lost or stolen.

As mentioned above, you may be able to find a professional auto locksmith. To source a local locksmith, you can enter your postcode into the Master Locksmiths Association’s website. The advantage of using a locksmith is that they can often travel to you. This is especially advantageous if the only car key you have was taken. The locksmith will be able to open the car for you and provide multiple replacement keys while also changing the locks.

Alternatively, you can get replacement keys from the car manufacturer or dealer. If, for instance, your car is a Ford, you can go to your nearest Ford dealer to get another set of keys. However, this method may take longer than finding a locksmith.

You can also take the car to any local garage of your choice, and they may have the equipment to do the job for you. However, before taking it, you should check that they have key coding equipment for an electric fob first.

Stolen car keys can be a worry, but if you follow the steps above, you’ll soon have a replacement set and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your car is safe.

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