Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • Some roadside assistance programs extend to locksmith services
  • The keys may be covered as part of a larger accident or comprehensive claim
  • Filing a small claim for keys may result in higher premiums

Technology has come a long way. The simple car key of 20 years ago has been replaced by high-tech transponders that can help thwart car thieves.

Unfortunately, the gadgets also come with a high price tag, and replacing them can be costly.

If yours is damaged or missing, then you may be considering filing an insurance claim to cover the replacement costs.

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Fobs and Transponder Keys

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Up to the mid-1990s, car keys just had the basic cuts like a house key. Then the electronic key fob hit the scene. This remote is an integral part of the system and must be programmed using special equipment. Some fobs can be programmed using a special combination of button presses on the remote combined with specific key turns in the ignition.

Transponder keys actually have a chip in the head of the key, which sends a signal to an ignition receiver and effectively shuts down the car if the wrong key is used. As with the fobs, you may be able to visit an after-market seller for a replacement.

Many modern cars come with smart keys that are used in conjunction with a push-button start ignition. These use rolling security codes to ensure that the key is not imitated. If this transponder is lost or damaged, then you’ll have to visit the dealer. You can bank on this key set costing several hundred dollars for a replacement.

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Coverage Under Roadside Assistance

Sign up for a roadside assistance program, and you’ll have some protection against damaged keys. Companies like AAA offer vehicle locksmith services up to a pre-defined limit in case you’re locked out of your car.

Many insurance companies also offer a certain level of roadside assistance along with their towing insurance, and this may prove to be a more cost-effective option for you.

If you sign up for any of these programs, be sure to read the fine print regarding the keys. Some plans will only cover a low amount, and it may not be enough to actually replace a smartkey.

If you decide to go with this coverage through your insurance or separately, be sure to get a copy of the plan and keep it in the glovebox of your car for when you need it.

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Insurance May be an Option

There are some cases where your insurance may be willing to pay for the replacement smartkey or fob. Typically, the lost key would have to be part of a larger claim.

For example, it may have been:

  • Lost when the car when stolen
  • Damaged in a fire or flood
  • Destroyed in an accident

Provided you have a comprehensive plan, then your key may be covered by your policy. However, most companies will not cover just the keys themselves. The homeowner’s insurance may be another option for people who have simply lost their keys or damaged them through some other accident.

Suppose your purse was stolen while you were at the gym, and your car key fob was in it. Your homeowner’s policy might cover the purse and the contents, including your key. Keep in mind that your deductible will apply if the company agrees to cover the loss at all.

Look at the Long-Term Results

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It can be hard to pay out $300 or more for a specialized key, but this cost may pale in comparison with rising rates down the road. The fact is that even a small claim can result in higher premiums, which is particularly true if the claim is for something preventable, such as a lost key set.

While most experts agree that a single claim probably won’t result in raising prices, filing multiple claims almost certainly will. This means that you should weigh the risks against the potential benefits.

If you have to file a slightly larger claim a few months from now, you may find that your rates will go up because it’s the second one in a year. A general rule of thumb is that you really should cover the smaller problems on your own and maintain a clean history for when you have a larger claim.

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Consider the Rider

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If you’re worried about the risk of losing or damaging your keys, then it may be worth your investment to get specialized coverage. Depending on your plan, you may be able to request a rider that will cover miscellaneous items like your car keys.

There are also specialized plans that specifically cover your car keys against loss or damage.

Whether you need a special rider or just want to get comprehensive insurance to keep your keys safe, be sure to shop around for the right plan. By comparing different companies, you can find a program that meets your needs and preserves your budget.

You can also add roadside assistance or a rider to your policy if you want to cover your keys against all types of accidents.

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