Car keys have become more and more high-tech over the years. Generally, that's a good thing. It means that your car is more secure, and you're more protected from theft and loss. However, losing your car keys has become more than just a minor annoyance—it can be a painfully expensive loss. While an old car key could be copied for just a few dollars, new keys containing transponders can cost $200 or more to replace. However, there are some ways to save money on your replacement keys and prevent the expense in the future.
Don't Call The Dealership First
If you've lost a transponder key, make a locksmith your first call, not the dealership. You'll usually be able to get the key replaced for a lower price by using an auto locksmith. For example, a transponder key for a Ford F-150 may cost $160, plus $75 for the fob, but the price will be $20-$30 less if you use an auto locksmith. As an additional bonus, a locksmith will come to you (while a dealership won't). Mobile service is pretty convenient if you're locked out of your car—you'll also be saving yourself the cost of a cab ride to your dealership.
Unfortunately, if you have a smart key or a laser-cut key instead of a transponder key, you might have no choice. Typically, these must be replaced by the dealership. However, there may still be a way to recoup your costs.
Report It To Your Auto Insurance Company
Are lost keys covered by your car insurance company? If you have comprehensive coverage, the answer is "yes," most auto insurance companies will cover the cost of replacing your keys. Chances are good that they'll only replace the car keys, not any other keys you had on the same key ring. However, your house keys are also probably lower-tech and cheaper to replace than a transponder key or smart key.
Bear in mind that if your keys were stolen, you'll have to file a police report and give a copy of it to your insurance company. Also, you may be required to pay a deductible, so find out if an auto insurance claim makes financial sense before filing.
Keep Your Keys Safer
If you're the type of person that frequently loses your car keys, you may want to look into taking preventative measures. Otherwise, you may want to invest in an electronic key finder device. These will cost you a fraction of what a new key costs, and can be helpful if you absent-mindedly misplace your keys at home or work.
You may also want to look into getting a waterproof or shockproof key, or at least a waterproof container to keep it in. Discovering that your key doesn't work may be even more frustrating than being unable to find your key. If you're a surfer or avid beachgoer, or you're otherwise often in contact with water, this may be a smart investment.
If it's in your budget, just buy a spare key to keep in a safe place. Being prepared for an eventual loss is the best possible way to avoid an unexpected expense at a bad time. For more information, check with companies like ARC Locksmith Service.