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4 Ways to Handle Lost Car Keys [without freaking out]

Car keys come in all shapes and sizes these days, but they all have one thing in common: an uncanny ability to disappear on you. Sometimes they’re in a different coat pocket than you remembered (or under a sofa cushion) and you’re lucky because they eventually turn up.

But sometimes they just disappear and you’re left annoyed, stressed or worse yet: stranded. When that happens, stay calm and consider your options. Getting a spare key made isn’t as difficult or expensive as most people think. Even though it’s nothing like the old days when car keys looked like house keys, cutting a spare isn’t impossible, even on the road.

For your next lost car key emergency, here’s what you can do to get yourself back on the road again in as little time as possible and for as low a cost as possible too.

1. Don’t stress about the cost.

There are four main types of car keys at this point in time:

  1. Smart Key
  2. Laser Cut All-In-One Key
  3. Switchblade Key
  4. Basic Key

Then there is also the key fob, which works with most modern car keys. Sometimes called the “remote” or the “transmitter”, this can easily get lost, too.

The basic key is rare these days, unless you’re into vintage cars. They’re found in cars that pre-date the 1990s, for the most part, and can be easily copied by any locksmith, hardware store, or of course a dealer if they still have the old equipment on hand. Wherever you go for duplicating this type of car key, it won’t cost you much at all.

The other types of keys, on the other hand, require more technology. Car manufacturers have made great strides in theft-protection of their products, but that also means it’s far more complicated (and expensive) to deal with lost car keys.

But you don’t necessarily have to pay dealer costs to replace these car keys. In most cases, an experienced car locksmith can get you back on the road for far less.

2. Check with your car insurance company. They might even reimburse you.

Many insurers will help you out with the cost of replacing a lost car key. Most people don’t bother to read the fine print when purchasing a policy, however, so they don’t know this. When disaster hits and you’re in mid-panic mode over your lost car keys, wouldn’t it be nice to know?

Do yourself a favor and find out what your current auto insurance policy offers in the way of lost (or stolen) key coverage. Many of the major national carriers will offer the coverage as part of your standard policy.

Other insurers offer coverage for lost and stolen car keys only if you’re purchased that optional benefit. Again, reading the terms is important: you’ll find that some benefits also cover the cost of replacement locks.

3. Be glad you looked into a stand-alone key cover policy.

This tip really requires some preemptive action from you so if you’re stranded at the moment without your keys, you may want to skip ahead to the next item on the list.

While insurance companies may cover lost car keys on a standard policy or they may offer the option for that coverage, you may be able to do even better with a stand-alone policy. This is something to consider if you’re on the road a lot in your car- let’s say for work or if you’re constantly visiting relatives in another city.

The stand-alone car cover policies often go one step further than regular car insurance: they may cover the cost of hiring a car. If you can’t drive your own car because of lost, stolen or damaged keys, you’ll end up shelling out money just to get back home if you’ve been stranded.

Once again, however, it’s important to read the fine print. Many stand-alone policies have special restrictions on coverage such as period of time before cover kicks in.

4. If it’s an emergency, call an experienced, specialist auto locksmith.

A specialist car locksmith can not only save you money when you’re locked out of your car or if you’ve lost your keys. They can also repair or replace your keys on the spot. Compare that to the five to ten days it can sometimes take for a dealer to make a replacement key!

Besides, to get your car to the dealer presents an entirely new set of hassles for you. You’ll be watching your car roll away on the back of a flatbed truck while you make arrangements to get yourself and your passengers back home or wherever you were headed in the first place.