Losing your car keys will not only ruin your travel plans, but it could leave a dent in your finances.
Brace yourself - replacement car keys can be costly. In some cases, a lost key can write the car off if it’s of low value. Fortunately, there are a few options out there which can save you money.
Here are five ways to get hold of new car keys, without your wallet taking a hit.
Claim on your car insurance
If your car key is lost or stolen, you may be able to claim for the cost of a replacement on your car insurance policy.
Some insurers offer key cover automatically on their standard car insurance policies.
With other insurers, you’ll only get cover for both lost and stolen keys with an upgraded policy, or as an add-on. In some cases, there’s no excess to pay.
Claim on a 'key cover' policy
Key cover exists as a stand-alone policy from companies like Keycare or Esure.
In some cases, the benefits are more generous than just straightforward key replacement.
Some policies include car hire in the event you’re stranded and can’t drive your own car due to a lack of keys.
Check the small print carefully, though. Some policies may state that keys must be lost for a certain period of time before the cover kicks in.
Call your breakdown service
If you’ve accidentally locked your keys inside the car, most breakdown services will get you back in your car at no extra cost - provided you're covered with them.
If the rescue team can’t open the car, they can arrange for a locksmith to come and take a look. However, you may have to pay for that. If neither work, they will take your car to a nearby garage for further help and arrange transport for you and your passengers.
Depending on your policy, you may be covered for the cost of recovering your spare key. Some premium breakdown packages will cover retrieving a spare from your home and getting it to you.
Buy a new set
This is the most expensive option. While it’s easy enough to order replacement keys from car dealers, they can cost around £200 a set.
This is largely because of the programming and re-coding needed to enable the keys to communicate with your car. This includes controlling the alarms, remote locking and keyless entry and start on more recent models.
This still isn’t an instant turn around - depending on the model, key needed and outlet you may have to wait between five to 10 days to collect a replacement.
Get a spare cut on the high street
What if you’ve still got one fully functional key and are just after a spare for emergencies? In that case you can save money getting the job done at high street key cutters like Timpson.
Here a spare key for a Peugeot 206 car, for example, would cost around £70 (although this wouldn’t include remote locking), but could save you up to £100 against the dealership price.
You could also try one of the mobile or online locksmith companies, which advertise replacement keys.
In some cases, this can work out cheaper than the garage price but with others it can be more expensive and some operate only within certain areas.
Remember, if you’re getting replacement keys you’ll need to take along your vehicle registration document (V5) as well as your driving licence to prove that you're the owner of the car.