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 Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Aug 23, 2021

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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 The simple car key of 20 years ago has been replaced by high-tech transponders that can help thwart car thieves. Of course, these new keys come with complications. They open your car when you’re within a certain distance. But anything from heavy rain to excessive heat could interfere with its functionality.

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. With all the benefits comes a higher price. A single key fob could cost hundreds of dollars to replace depending on the car and brand. You generally have to go to the dealer to get it.

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What Should You Know about 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.

Are Fob Keys Covered Under Roadside Assistance or Lockout Service?

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. Their job is to get you into your car or tow your car to another location if needed. A locksmith service can also bring you fuel if you ran out of gas. If you want to replace your car key, you’d still be better off paying that part on your own.

Your roadside service will cost you a predetermined amount based on the premium you chose. 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 fob key replacement is not included in the roadside assistance by your service provider, it would have to go through your general insurance coverage. What does this mean for you? While fob keys are expensive to replace, your deductible is still probably higher in cost. So any claim you filed for a replacement key would not pay for anything, but it would potentially increase your insurance rates.

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Is It Ever Worth Filing A Claim with Your Service Provider for A Lost Fob Key?

There are some cases where your insurance may be willing to pay for the replacement smartkey or fob and times when it might make sense. 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 that damaged the car as a whole
  • 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. Always consider the full amount you could reasonably expect to get from your claim and how it compares to your deductible.

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What Long-Term Results Does a Key Replacement Claim Have?

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.

Consider the Rider

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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