Losing your car keys is a worrying experience: suddenly you no longer have any personal transport - and unlike other breakdown predicaments, you can’t even use your car for shelter while you wait for help.

But what are your options when you lose your keys - and what help can you expect from your breakdown service provider?

As long as you have a policy with a given breakdown firm, they will most likely help you access your car if you've locked your keys inside - at no additional cost.

If they are unable to get inside your car, you may need the assistance of a locksmith - the cost of which you may have to cover yourself.

If these two possibilities fail, your breakdown team will tow your vehicle to a local garage where a trained professional will attempt to unlock it.

Depending on the time of day and situation, your breakdown cover provider will arrange transport for you and your passengers - in line with the wording in your policy document.

Your policy document will also make it clear if the costs of recovering your spare key are covered. Top-tier breakdown products may even cover the costs of helping you retrieve a spare key from your home.

 

Lost keys: other options

Here are the other options available to you when your keys go missing.

 

Replacement keys

If you have to foot the bill for this, it could be expensive. You can order a new set of keys from your dealership, but it will cost upwards of £200 for a new set of keys - and potentially a lot more if the key fob needs to be programmed, and/or if you have a premium-brand car.

 

Car insurance claim

Your car insurance policy may cover the cost of replacement keys. Some insurers offer cover for 'lost and stolen keys' as standard, while others require you to buy an add-on. As always, it’s important to know what you're covered for.

Standalone 'key cover' insurance

Specific key cover products are available. These focus solely on the risk of losing your keys. Some of these policies even include car hire in case you cannot get into your car in a timely fashion. It’s worth noting that some policies require the keys to be missing for a certain period before the insurance can be claimed on.

In addition, you may have to wait up to 10 days for the replacement key to arrive.

 

Get a backup key

Having a spare key in your home could save a great deal of trouble and cost down the line. Some high street key cutters offer car-key cutting services, which can be substantially cheaper than buying from a dealership. There are also online services for getting backup keys cut.

NB: You'll need to take along/show your vehicle registration document (V5C) and your driving licence to prove you are the car’s rightful owner.