Recently one of our wonderful customers had their Lexus RX stolen from her church parking lot. The thief broke her window, found the valet key in the glove box, then drove off with the car. The vehicle was recovered and due to damage was towed to our Denver auto body repair shop. The valet key was never recovered.
The valet key or spare key is a flat key that oftentimes is mistakenly left in the cover of the Owner’s Manual. It will start the car and open the doors just like your regular key.
After completing the repairs on this particular vehicle, we sent the car to the Lexus dealer to have the vehicle rekeyed. Rekeying a car means having ALL the locks and keys changed and the car reprogrammed which renders the old keys useless. Keep in mind the thief may still be in possession of the valet key and could steal the car again or the contents if the vehicle is not rekeyed. And in this particular case, the chances are high that this person might go back to the same church and try it again.
Unfortunately, the insurance company declined to pay to rekey the vehicle! The customer is now faced with two options, paying their $1,000.00 deductible and over $800.00 to have the vehicle rekeyed or live with the knowledge that someone else out there may still have the key to her car.
We called several people at the insurance company to get them to re-consider their position to no avail. This is the first time we have ever had an insurance company decline such a necessary repair.
Recently we spoke with two insurance adjusters from other insurance companies who indicated that rekeying the vehicle would have been covered in this situation.
We also found getting an answer from other Insurance companies on how they would handle the same situation was not so easy either. Many policies don’t directly address the question of coverage in this situation. It seems like it is up to internal policies within the insurance company.
After reviewing my personal auto policy with Amica Mutual Insurance Company, it clearly spells out, “We will pay for lock replacement on your covered auto without a deductible if your keys are lost or stolen.”
So, to prevent your car from being stolen make sure you do not have any spare keys in your car. Keep your valet key on your keychain if you need it for valet parking purposes. As a courtesy to our collision customers, we now inspect our client’s cars for extra keys and have them removed from the vehicle. Finally, check with your insurance agent about your coverage on rekeying before it’s too late!