Drivers are being urged to take care of their car keys after new research revealed that only half of insurance policies provide cover if they are lost.
Modern car keys contain an array of technological features such as programmed chips that remotely unlock the doors and operate the alarm, immobiliser and ignition. But the keys are so advanced that drivers face forking out hundreds of pounds to get sets replaced if they misplace them and their insurance policy doesn't cover it.
Comparison website Gocompare.com looked at more than 230 car insurance policies and found only 50% provided cover if you lose your keys, whether they are smart ones or older, standard ones. Another 28% of policies only provide cover as an optional extra with an additional fee charged, while the remaining 22% provided no cover at all.
Of those policies that do provide cover, payouts vary widely, with most offering between £500 to £1,500 worth of cover for a lost key.
Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of policies (87%) provided cover when there is a theft of car keys but 10% only provide it as an optional extra, again for an additional fee ranging between £12 and £26.50. Nearly all the insurance policies (97%) exclude cover for theft of a car when the keys were left in the ignition.
Check your policy
Gocompare.com's motor insurance spokesman, Matt Oliver, said: "Today, losing your car keys tends to require a great deal more than a quick trip to a local locksmith.
"The use of smart technology in keys and other keyless devices means that for some vehicles, the only way to get a replacement is through the manufacturer - which can be both time-consuming and expensive.
"When it comes to key cover on your car insurance the devil really is in the detail. Many key cover policies are an added extra on your car insurance, and some may charge you an excess, as they do with a damaged windscreen, while others may not. Also if you do claim for a lost or stolen key, it is unlikely to affect your no claims bonus, but as always it is worth checking your policy details for full peace of mind.
"Check your policy documents to see what the excess is for a lost car key, check with your car manufacturer how much a replacement would cost, and make a judgement call on which is best for you and your circumstances."