Does Renters Insurance Cover Replacement Keys or Locks?

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Unlocking a door (Photo: @MargJohnsonVA via Twenty20)
Most renter’s insurance policies include lock replacement expense protection as part of the personal property protection provision. It helps to cover the cost of replacing keys and locks under certain circumstances. Depending on the cost of replacement, however, lock replacement expense protection may or may not be helpful.

Lock replacement expense protection explained

Lock replacement expense protection is a facet of the personal property protection that comes with renter’s insurance.
When a lock or key must be replaced due to a covered event, it is possible to file a claim with the insurance company to pay for the cost of replacement. The cost of such replacements are generally low, but the price for a new lock or key can go up if the need occurs after regular business hours or the locksmith must travel a great distance.

When are costs covered under lock replacement expense protection?

The occasions when you can use lock replacement expense protection are actually quite limited. The following scenarios are usually the only times the insurance company will foot the bill for key or lock replacement:
  • Theft of keys
  • Vandals tamper with your lock
  • The lock and/or key is damaged in a fire
Lock replacement expense protection does not help in the following situations:
  • Insect or vermin damage
  • Key breaks off in lock
  • Lockouts
  • Lost keys
  • Mechanical issues or breakdowns
  • Rust or other wear to the lock
  • Loss due to floods or earthquakes
Clearly, the times when you can use lock replacement expense protection are limited. Bear in mind that many landlords have an extra set of keys or will provide a fresh set of keys at a discount price. So, refer to your lease agreement for any opportunities for cheap lock or key replacement.

Should you file a lock replacement expense protection claim?

Even if lock replacement expense protection applies, it may not be advisable to file a claim. This is because locks and keys don’t cost that much. Oftentimes, the personal property deductible on renter’s insurance claims is higher than the cost of getting a new lock or key. Deductibles usually range between $500 and $1,000, while a lock replacement is at most a few hundred dollars. If this is the case, it doesn’t make sense to file a lock replacement expense protection claim.
When it is possible to file a claim and makes financial sense to do so, here’s how to file a lock replacement expense protection claim:
  • Take pictures of the damage.
  • File a police report if needed.
  • Get your lock and key replaced, and save the receipt.
  • Collect your renter’s insurance documents.
  • Contact your insurance company within 48 to 72 hours, according to your policy’s instructions.
  • Talk with your insurance’s claims adjuster and provide your policy number, photos of damage, police report, locksmith receipt, and any other information requested to start your claim.
  • Allow time for an investigation of the incident.
  • Pay your deductible once the claims adjuster reports that the investigation is complete and you qualify for a claim.
  • Get your reimbursement check from the insurance company.
To prevent lock and key theft or damage in the future, consider installing additional lighting by your doorway or cameras to deter thieves and vandals. Also, have a spare key made, and give it to a relative or trusted friend for safekeeping. That way, getting inside your home if locked out is just a call away.