Lost Key Alert: What to Do if You Lose Your Car Keys?

Key Takeaway

  • If you’ve lost the key to your car and have no spare key, the quickest method to get out of the mess is to call an automotive locksmith. 
  • However, inform the locksmith about the kind of car key you had in the first place in advance. Some car keys are high on technology so not every automotive locksmith might be adept at handling such a scenario.
  • Automotive locksmiths are expensive so it makes sense to check the car insurance policy to learn if it covers lost key replacement. 

Imagine yourself in a frustrating situation: you’ve been out all day, moving from place to place, and you’re about to drive home when you realize that your car key is missing. Though this is just a scenario, it could happen to anyone. 

While spare keys are always useful, what if you don’t have any? Not even at home? And that’s exactly what I am going to talk about in this blog post. 

What to do if you lose your car keys and don’t have a spare?

What To Do If Your Car Key Is Lost?

What To Do If Your Car Key Is Lost?

I know it might sound cliche but it is very important not to lose your cool and remain calm in case of a lost car key. Becoming anxious and agitated will not help you find the key. 

The best thing you can do when you lose your car key and don’t have a spare is to contact an automotive locksmith. Automotive locksmiths specialize in handling car key-related issues and can assist you in getting a new key or gaining access to your vehicle. You can expect to pay anywhere from $40-$400 depending on the distance, time of the day and the type of the car key. 

While calling an automotive locksmith will certainly help you gain access to the vehicle, there are a couple of things that you must do alongside this.

Inform the Police: If you think that your car key is stolen, report the incident to the police and inform your car insurance company. Reporting to the police helps with potential recovery efforts, while notifying your insurance company is crucial for reimbursement of a replacement key. Taking these steps ensures that you address a possible theft situation and increase the likelihood of receiving reimbursement if eligible.

Review Your Car Insurance Policy: Take the time to review your car insurance policy to determine if it covers lost key replacement. Pay attention to coverage limits, deductibles, and the claims process for lost keys.

Inform the Insurance Company: It’s important to promptly inform your insurance company about the lost key incident. By doing so, you reduce the risk of claim rejection in case of vehicle theft later on. Failing to inform the insurance company about the lost key could potentially jeopardize your coverage and result in claim denial if theft occurs using the lost key.

Types of Car Keys & Its Impact On The Cost

If your car keys are not covered under insurance, obtaining a replacement key depends on the type of key your car uses.

1. Traditional Keys:

Traditional Keys

Traditional keys are the standard, non-electronic keys commonly used in older car models. If you have a traditional key and happen to lose it, the process of obtaining a replacement is usually straightforward. 

In such cases, it is advisable to contact a locksmith who specializes in creating keys for cars. They will have the necessary expertise and equipment to duplicate your key based on the specifications of your car’s lock mechanism. Once you have the replacement key, you can use it to unlock the doors and start your car as you normally would.

Replacing a traditional key is usually the least expensive option. It typically costs between $5 to $50 for a basic key duplication at a locksmith or hardware store.

2. Transponder Keys:

Transponder Keys

Transponder keys are more advanced than traditional keys and contain an embedded electronic chip. This chip communicates with your car’s engine control unit (ECU), allowing the ignition to start. 

If you happen to misplace a transponder key, the process of obtaining a replacement requires specific steps. It is recommended to reach out to a locksmith who has experience working with transponder keys. They possess the necessary knowledge and tools to program a new key for your car. This programming involves synchronizing the new key’s chip with your car’s ECU to ensure proper functionality.

Replacing a transponder key can cost between $50 to $200 or more, depending on the make and model of your car. To read more about transponder keys, you may read one of my past articles.

3. Key with Fob:

Key with Fob

A key with a fob combines a standard key with a remote control device. The fob enables you to lock or unlock your car remotely and may have additional features like a panic button or trunk release.

If you happen to lose the fob, it can be inconvenient, but you can still access and drive your car using the physical key. To obtain a replacement key or fob, contact a locksmith who can assist you in acquiring a new one. They will be able to provide you with a key that is compatible with your car’s locking system and, if necessary, program the fob to work with your car.

Replacing a key with a fob can range from $100 to $400 or more. 

4. Keys Attached to the Fobs:

Keys Attached to the Fobs

Some car models have key fobs that incorporate a folding key. If you lose this type of key, your options for replacement may be more limited. In such cases, if you possess a spare key, you can use it as a backup. Alternatively, you can visit the nearest authorized dealership of your car’s brand. Dealerships typically possess the capability to create replacement keys or fobs for specific car models. They will need to obtain the relevant information and specifications related to your car, so it is advisable to have your vehicle identification number (VIN) and proof of ownership on hand when requesting a replacement.

5. Smart Key:

Smart Key

Smart keys are advanced keyless entry systems used in many modern cars. They allow for keyless locking and unlocking of the car doors and often include push-button start functionality. If you happen to lose a smart key, the process of replacing it can be more complex. In such situations, you will typically need to rely on a spare key if you have one. 

If a spare key is not available, you may need to have your car towed to a brand dealership. The dealership will possess the specialized equipment and expertise required to program a new key fob specifically designed for your car. This programming process ensures that the new key is recognized and authorized by the car’s security system. It is important to note that programming a smart key usually necessitates specific software and expertise, which is why dealership assistance is often necessary.

Car Insurance Coverage

Car Insurance Coverage

Car insurance coverage can provide financial protection in various situations, including the loss or theft of car keys. In this guide, we will explore the aspects of car insurance coverage related to lost car keys and the steps involved in making a claim.

a. Comprehensive Coverage: Comprehensive insurance often covers lost or stolen car keys, but coverage limits and deductibles may apply. Check your insurance policy or contact your insurance provider to understand the specifics of your coverage.

b. Deductibles: Some insurance policies require policyholders to pay a deductible for key replacement. The deductible is an amount that you are responsible for paying out of pocket before the insurance coverage kicks in. Make sure you’re aware of your deductible amount and how it applies to lost key replacement.

c. Claims Process: If your policy covers lost keys, familiarize yourself with the claims process. Typically, you’ll need to provide a police report, proof of ownership, and receipts from key replacement services. Follow your insurance company’s instructions to file a claim and obtain reimbursement for the replacement key expenses.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What should I do if my car insurance policy doesn’t cover lost key replacement?

Answer. If your insurance policy doesn’t cover lost key replacement, you can seek replacement services from a locksmith or the nearest authorized dealership for your car’s brand.

  1. Should I file a police report if my car key is lost? 

Answer. It’s a good idea to file a police report if you suspect your key is lost or stolen. This can be helpful for insurance purposes and in case of potential theft.

  1. Do home improvement stores offer car key duplication services?

Answer. Yes, many home improvement stores do offer car key duplication services. Stores such as Walmart, Home Depot and Lowe’s often have key cutting machines that can duplicate standard car keys. However, these services are possible only when you have the original key available with you.


Losing your car keys can be inconvenient, but knowing the type of key you’ve lost and the appropriate replacement options will help you navigate the situation smoothly. Remember to stay calm, thoroughly search for the keys, and take the necessary steps to replace them, whether through a locksmith, dealership, or mobile locksmith service. Additionally, understanding your car insurance coverage for lost keys and following the claims process will ensure you make the most of your policy benefits.

2 thoughts on “Lost Key Alert: What to Do if You Lose Your Car Keys?”

  1. I did some research to assist my cousin, who has been planning to replace his auto keys. It’s good that you talked about the various types that you can choose from, such transponder keys, which are more sophisticated than conventional keys and have an implanted electronic chip. I think he should give this a try, so I’ll make sure to tell him about it and look into auto key replacement services that can be of use to him.


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Hey! I am Mark. Though I am not a locksmith by profession, but locks have always fascinated me since my teens. And it all started when I got locked out of my house and I had to pick the lock. Since then it has become my hobby to learn more about different kinds of locks, understand their working and methods to pick them up. In due course of time, I have also become better aware of how installing the right lock goes a long way in ensuring iron clad security. I aim to share my passion (about locks) through this blog. If you are also passionate about picking locks or are just looking to beef up the security, hop on the ride.