I Locked My Keys in the Car. Now What?
- 1. Consider your options
- 2. Do you have roadside assistance?
- 3. Call a professional
- DIY methods
- Make sure you have the right coverage
Locked your keys in your car? It happens to the best of us at least once—okay, sometimes twice.
That’s why the car insurance broker and comparison shopping app Jerry has compiled all the information you need to get your keys back in your hands and your car back on the road.
Some methods of getting your keys back are easier (and less embarrassing) than others. That being said, adding roadside assistance to your car insurance policy can help you save money if you find yourself stranded.
Here’s a step-by-step guide of what to do when you lock your keys in your car—and how to get the roadside assistance insurance that will have you covered for next time.
1. Consider your options
Locking your keys in your car is stressful, but don’t panic. Take a deep breath and consider your options.
Confirm that you are actually locked out
Check all the door handles—and trunk handles if you drive a hatchback.
If a window is open a crack, you could use an object like a wire hanger or a stick to reach the unlock button.
Check for a spare
Once you have confirmed that you are locked out and have no way to get in, consider if you might be able to get your hands on a spare set of keys.
Maybe you leave a set of spare keys with a friend or keep a set at home. If this is the case, see if you can arrange for somebody to bring them to you. Alternately, consider the possibility of using public transit, a rideshare service, or a taxi to retrieve them.
Is it an emergency?
If so, you might want to consider breaking a window.
Keep in mind that this is only a measure you should use in critical time-sensitive situations, like if a young child or pet is locked inside a warm vehicle.
Breaking a window is both expensive and dangerous. Only resort to this option if it is absolutely necessary.
2. Do you have roadside assistance?
If it’s not a serious emergency, but you also can’t get your hands on a set of spare keys, it’s time to consider your roadside assistance options.
Roadside assistance service providers will often offer unlocking services. If you already have an existing roadside assistance plan, it will probably at least partially cover the cost of getting your car unlocked.
You might even already have roadside assistance coverage in place through your car insurance policy, vehicle manufacturer, credit card company, or automotive club.
Car insurance company
Most car insurance companies will give you an option to add roadside assistance coverage to your existing insurance policy.
Some providers will also offer pay-per-use access to roadside assistance services.
Purchasing roadside assistance through insurance provides is one of the most affordable ways to get the peace of mind that comes with knowing you won’t be left stranded when things go wrong. Policy riders generally cost $10 a month or less.
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If you drive a newer vehicle model, it could be worthwhile to look into whether roadside assistance is included in your vehicle manufacturer warranty.
Some vehicle manufacturers like Hyundai and Toyota will offer up free roadside assistance alongside a new car warranty.
Extended warranty plans might also include common roadside assistance offerings like towing and unlocking services as well.
Credit card companies
If you have a premium or travel credit card, you might already have access to some free roadside assistance services.
Cards that charge an annual fee are more likely to include roadside assistance services. Just be warned that you will probably have to pay upfront and wait to be reimbursed.
Automotive clubs (AAA)
Automotive clubs like AAA, National General, and Automotive Club will provide members with roadside assistance coverage at the cost of an annual membership fee.
AAA is especially well-known for providing comprehensive roadside assistance. An AAA membership will also get you access to various members-only auto, travel, food, and retailer discounts as well as helpful resources for drivers.
MORE: What is AARP Insurance?
3. Call a professional
If you don’t have roadside assistance coverage or access to pay-per-use services, you can still pick up a phone and call up an unlocking professional.
So who exactly should you call? You have some options.
Any of the following types of companies might offer car door unlocking services:
- Tow truck services
- Auto repair shops
If you have electronic locking mechanisms that you think you could reach with a hanger, you can try using a blood pressure sleeve to create space between the doorframe.
Slim Jim’s were once considered a safe way to open locked vehicles, but they often cause permanent damage to newer vehicle models.
Regardless of what tool you use, be sure to avoid prying the space open any more than a quarter-inch. This is more than enough space to insert a wire hanger.
The only other option is to break the window—and this is hardly ever worth it. Call up a professional instead.
DIY methods are always risky. You could end up injuring yourself, damaging your vehicle, or even voiding your warranty protection.
Make sure you have the right coverage
If you don’t have a roadside assistance plan to help cover the cost of lockouts, locking your keys in the car can be a costly ordeal.
Jerry will find you the most affordable insurance plans fast so that you don’t have to shop around for the cheapest insurance coverage—meaning that you can add roadside assistance to your plan for less.
If you’re hesitant to switch plans or insurance providers because you’re worried about the work involved, don’t be.
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