The risk of losing your key is generally underestimated. A key does not cost the world - depending on the design between five and fifty euros. But the devil is in the details when it comes to keys. Few people realise that the financial cost of losing a key when it comes to damage limitation and damage repair can easily add up to the price of a small car. Keycards are also considered keys. You can find out here why comprehensive and unlimited liability cover for the loss of keys is so important.

What happens if I lose my keys?

Insurance for the risk of losing your keys covers two situations. Firstly, it covers the loss of other people's keys, and secondly, the loss of your own keys. Imagine these scenarios:

  • You are at the swimming pool. The day is drawing to a close, you are packing up your things and are still clearing out the empty cola cans and bakery bags to throw them away. Unfortunately, your key has got caught in a can and you don't notice it. When you get home, you realise that your key is gone.
  • You come back from a short holiday and are at the station on your way from the train to the S-Bahn. From the loudspeaker comes the warning about pickpockets. You are standing in front of your door, wanting to take the key out of your jacket pocket, you feel for it again, look in the other jacket pocket, feel the pocket… That’s when you remember the inconspicuous man on the train platform bumping into you. Even the loss of keys through theft is insured.

If you lose your key and live in an apartment building, you should definitely inform the caretaker or the owner. It quickly becomes critical if the house has a locking system. In this case, replacing all locks is the first priority.

As part of the very comprehensive Luko Private Liability policy, the insurer will reimburse all claims for damages that are associated with the loss of apartment keys, house keys or garage keys. However, there is one exception: you have to bear the costs of replacing the lock on your apartment door yourself.

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Lost keys: That's why it can cost as much as a new car

Depending on the size of the apartment building, we have reached the point where the equivalent value of a small car plays a role. Changing locks can quickly reach a five-figure amount. There are central keys, coded by a series of round imprints that are a little reminiscent of Braille. These keys are specific to the original client for several decades and are not used in any other building. Copying this type of key costs around 50 euros.

When replacing the locking system, only the financial expenditure for the locks is initially taken into account. The locksmith's fee is added to this. In an apartment building with two or three apartments, the owner's claim for damages may be clear, but still annoying. In the classic prefabricated concrete slab buildings in Berlin-Marzahn, with hundreds of residential units in one building, you don't even want to think about how high the recourse claims can be. The prefab buildings were also renovated along with the locking systems.

What happens if I lose the key to my office or somewhere else?

First, the good news. You'll be fully covered by your insurance. The peculiarity of losing a key is that many insurers only cover the loss of these keys. Insurance cover exists in the following cases:

  • private, professional, official, honorary and club keys
  • keys to safes, furniture and other movable property

The same principle applies to the loss of other keys or keycards as to the loss of your own keys. In any case, you must inform the person responsible. This could be your boss, the caretaker, the club board or the owner of the safe or piece of furniture to which the key belonged.

Your neighbour is elderly, can no longer walk very well and rarely leaves her apartment. You have a spare key so that you can look after her and bring the shopping over. Since she is an anxious person, she has also entrusted you with the key to the cupboard where she keeps important documents. And obviously the worst happens - you lose the key ring with the front door, apartment door and cupboard keys on it. In this case, Luko will pay for all claims for damages from the landlord and your neighbour.

What happens if I lose the key to my workplace?

The first step is always the same. You have to inform the person in charge. This also applies if the key was stolen. In case of theft, of course, reporting it to the police is the second step. As far as changing the locks is concerned, you don't have to worry about anything - someone in the company is responsible for that.

Many companies have now exchanged keys for keycards. In this case, it may be necessary to reprogram the card readers and the employees’ cards.

Does my personal liability insurance cover the loss of keys?

A glance at the insurance conditions or the section above "What happens if I lose my keys?" states clearly that you are fully covered by insurance. It is important to note that the contract, as given by Luko, does not provide for a maximization of compensation. Otherwise, you may have to pay a part of the claims yourself.

What if I am not insured against claims for damages in case of loss of keys?

Although Luko's coverage for loss of keys is very comprehensive, there are two situations where you cannot expect compensation.

  • A customer gives you a key to his apartment so that you can carry out some repair work. On the way to the customer's apartment you lose the key. In this case, there is no insurance cover.
  • The second case, in which there is no entitlement to benefits, is related to consequential damage resulting from the loss of the key. You are robbed and the offender takes your house key. Since you go to the police first, the robber has a time advantage. In addition to the key, he also has your wallet and identity card, so he knows where you live. When you finally arrive home, the damage is done, the perpetrator has stolen valuables from your apartment.

However, there’s no reason to hang your head.

When does home contents insurance pay in case of loss of keys?

We can simply continue the story from the previous paragraph without breaking. By definition, homeowner's insurance pays first in the event of burglary. This means that the perpetrator(s) must have gained access to your home by force. If a window was tilted or even open, the insurance cover does not apply. In this case, there is no violent burglary, but a non-violent "sneaking in".

However, household contents insurance extends the concept of violence in relation to entering a flat. Violent entry also counts as forced entry if the perpetrator has obtained your apartment key by using violence, in this case robbery. Thus, the loss of the apartment key falls within the scope of household insurance.

The damage caused by the loss of the key is covered in this case, provided, however, that you have household insurance. Incidentally, Luko home contents insurance is as uncomplicated as Luko private liability insurance and also features broad coverage at very reasonable premiums.

What is the sum insured in case of key loss?

Luko, unlike many of its competitors, does not provide for maximization in case of damage due to loss of keys. The insurance cover provides for a maximum coverage of 30 million euros for personal injury, property and financial losses. 

In Germany, the coverage of private liability in case of loss of keys doesn’t only extend to the key, the lock or the locking system. It also includes expenses related to property protection if the building has to be secured overnight by security personnel after the loss of the key.

Who pays for a lost car key?

Car keys are a special case. However, the loss of a key, inclusion of the key risk in personal liability insurance, is only covered for third-party vehicles, such as rental cars. This is important, since a car key is much more expensive today than a key to a Beetle in the 1970s.

You are out with friends one evening and carrying your car key in your jacket pocket. Over the course of the evening you notice that the key is gone. The problem is not that you don't have a spare key, the problem is that the finder or thief just has to walk down the streets and press the door opener button to find your car. If you lose your car key, the risk is not so much the cost of a new key, but rather the fact that, in the end, the car is gone too.

A new key has to be coded, the locks on the car may have to be replaced and the locking system may also have to be reprogrammed. For the key alone, you will have to reckon with costs between 50 and 300 euros.     

If you find that you are missing your car key, you should first contact your car insurance company. Secondly, it’s important to move the car out of harm’s way using your spare key, for example in a closed garage.

It’s worth checking with your car insurance company to see if they will at least pay for the replacement of the locks, and perhaps even for new keys.

What if I act negligently?

The German Civil Code distinguishes between negligence and gross negligence. In case law, negligence is understood to mean failure to consider the possible consequences of one's own actions.

Slight or unknowing negligence exists if the person does not realise that his actions lead to negative consequences, even if he could have foreseen this based on his level of knowledge.

You light a candle with the window open, leave the room, the candle is blown over by the wind, the sofa catches fire.

Gross negligence exists if the person performing the action is aware that this very action could be detrimental to other people.

In a built-up area, you drive at 100 km/h towards a red light and brake ten metres before the pedestrian crossing. You know that you are not allowed to drive at 100 kilometres per hour in a built-up area, you see the red light and yet you brake at a distance from the pedestrian crossing that makes it impossible to stop in time.

In connection with the risk of losing your keys, the term negligence is somewhat more difficult to define.

  • You like to cycle and your bike is equipped with a basket. You put your bunch of keys in there and start cycling. A bump in the road causes the key to be thrown upwards and out of the basket. In principle, this action would be classified as gross negligence, as the keys were lying open and unsecured in the basket.
  • Clearly, you are grossly negligent if you leave your key on a table in a café and leave the table for whatever reason.

Today, insurers no longer rule out gross negligence, but they do reserve the right to quote the amount of compensation for damages in the household insurance, measured by the influence of negligence on the amount of damage. Especially if you keep other people's keys, you have a special duty of care to ensure that these keys do not get lost. In any case, it’s worth checking how the insurer interprets the concept of negligence and whether it reduces your benefits.