Can't find your car keys? File a police complaint, forward copy to insurer

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What if your car is stolen and you have misplaced the two or three set of keys that initially came with the vehicle? Processing the insurance claim might be difficult, with insurers insisting that car owners must submit the set of keys that came with the four-wheeler.

While the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) has not mandated it as one of the requirements, insurers are adopting this approach to ensure the theft is not due to the customer’s negligence. 

“It could a possibility that the thief might use the car owner’s keys to steal the vehicle,” according to Puneet Sahni, head, product development, SBI General Insurance.

There had been cases in the past where the owner left the keys inside the car, leading to the theft. In such cases, even consumer forums have ruled that it was the car owner’s obligation to take steps to save the vehicle from damage or loss, according to the insurance contract. If he does not do so, it is negligence on the owner’s part, and it can lead to rejection of claims.

“It is not that your claim will be rejected if you do not have the two or three set of keys that originally came with the car. Submission of keys is one of the processes that insurers use to ensure that the claim is not fraudulent,” according to Tarun Mathur, chief business officer, general insurance,

In case the customer submits all the keys, processing the claim is easier. If one key is missing, the settlement or rejection of the claim depends on the outcome of the investigation by the insurer.

If a person sold the car to someone in another state, it could be difficult to trace the vehicle due to the changed registration number, Mathur said. In specific cases, an insurer may even ask the car owner to get an authority letter from the Regional Transport Office confirming his ownership of the vehicle.

As a customer, if you are unable to find one of the car keys, it is best to file a police complaint and forward a copy to the insurer. “Another option is to get the key and lock add-on insurance cover. For a Rs 500,000 car, the cost would be below Rs 200 annually,” Sahni said.

In case a key is missing, the car owner should approach the insurer to replace the lock. Even if the company does not pay for changing the lock and key, it cannot hold the customer responsible in case of a theft.

If you are buying a used car, ensure that you get the original set of keys. A second-hand car with one key can raise doubts with the insurer. It’s a common problem with customers buying cars from unorganised players, according to company executives. Organised players usually document the number of keys handed over to the buyer, making the claim settlement process easier for the insurer.

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