Insurance – Leaving Keys in Your Car

When it comes to insurance you tend to just believe you’re insured, for any eventuality. Rarely does anyone read the small print and the terms and conditions, even when told to do so. If you buy insurance then you’re insured right? We all know the difference between being ‘fully comprehensive’ or ‘third party, fire and theft’, but do we know our insurance policies inside out, what we’re insured for and what we’re not. The answer to that for most of us would be no. It would be a worrying and eye opening experience for most if they realised what they were paying for and when they would be left high and dry to fend for themselves.

A common one that no-one would be insured for is if you were to leave your car keys either in, or near to your car, and then leave it unattended. This sounds daft on the face of it and you’re probably thinking why on earth would you do that anyway?! I have to admit I have. I used to have the habit of leaving my spare keys inside the car. Usually I carry both as the thought of losing my keys and being stranded seems awful. I have one key on its own and another on my house keys. But sometimes if I was stopping briefly in a shop I would jump out, leaving my car key in the glove compartment or in the door pocket. I didn’t for a moment think that if my car was stolen, I would be entitled to nothing at all.

Some situations are almost unavoidable if you have your car with you. Recently a surfer in Bournemouth took his new Mini to the beach, parking it up ready for his surf. Knowing he would be in the sea with nowhere to put his keys, he would leave them hidden under the rear bumper rather than risk leaving them on the beach. He later returned to the car park to find it gone. As you would he informed his insurance company and told them the story, unfortunately probably mistakenly as if he had not they would never have known the keys where with the car! His insurance claim was promptly turned down under what is known as the ‘keys in car’ clause. Possibly adding insult to injury here, I believe most modern car keys are now waterproof anyway, so the best way to go about a surf these days would be to have them tied to you somewhere or in a zipped pocket. Always check with your car manufacturer before quoting me on this though.

The financial ombudsman says insurers must highlight it when the policy is sold or ensure it is clearly stated in any summary provided with the full policy. But it still may be hard to find. Always take the time to read through your policy as it would save a whole load of heart ache in the end. When you’re on the telephone to insurers be sure to take your time and ask any questions that may come into your head. And remember you always have a ‘cooling off’ period, usually 7 days, in which you can cancel your policy without charge. They will bombard you on the phone with things you are covered for and make it sound very complete and water tight, but this will very rarely be the case , so beware.