Metal car keys are going the way of the land line, as most drivers have graduated to a key fob or remote with a transponder that needs programming before use.
If you own a high-tech vehicle you might have a “smart key” – a remote control to plug into your dashboard or leave in your pocket.
Although these devices add convenience, they’re pricey. You’ll pay $200 to $400 to replace a smart key on a luxury car, plus $100 an hour for labor. If you lose all your keys, you might need to replace the locks, which could cost $1,000.
Auto insurance will cover the cost of replacing smart keys (or metal keys) only if the loss comes from a peril covered under the policy. For example, if your keys are damaged when you collide with another car, collision coverage would pay to replace them.
Comprehensive coverage – which reimburses you for loss or damage to your vehicle from theft, vandalism, fire, hail or flood – would include replacement of the keys, as part of the vehicle.
If your car keys are stolen, Homeowners insurance should pay to replace them because theft is a “named peril” under the policy.
Bear in mind that your auto or homeowner’s deductible will apply against the cost of replacement.
Technology is well on the way to eliminating car keys. According to the AAA, smartphone apps that allow you to unlock and start your car will be standard on many vehicles as soon as the end of this year.
In the meantime, you can avoid paying the high cost of replacing smart keys by keeping spares in a safe place.
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