Valet parking and your car insurance

A full car park seen from above

It can seem so easy to hand your keys over to a valet parking service... but will your car insurance cover you if there's an accident or incident that damages your vehicle?

Before you hand over your keys you need to check the implications for your car insurance and carefully read the valet parking operator's terms and conditions
Lee Griffin, Gocompare.com

You cruise up to the front of your favourite restaurant, leaving the motor running as you nonchantly toss the keys to the lackey manning the door...

As you strut purposefully through the entrance the crunch of metal and glass behind quickly shatters the illusion that this is going to be an evening like the one you've seen in so many movies.

Should such a misfortune befall you, have you considered the insurance implications and whether you're appropriately covered?

In May 2014, Gocompare.com conducted a study of 245 car insurance policies using data from independent financial researcher Defaqto and found that 51% of them wouldn't cover 'damage to the vehicle whilst in the control of valet parking staff', meaning that - if your car was damaged - you could be left out of pocket.Car

And it's not just at your favourite restaurant or bar that you may need to take care when using valet parking services. There are any number of airport parking services that could present difficulties, or you could find yourself handing your keys over at a car wash, hotel or car park.

Gocompare.com's Lee Griffin stresses that you should think carefully before parting company with your vehicle.

"Valet parking is becoming an increasingly popular option in the UK with many airports, major hotels and entertainment venues now offering a 'meet and greet' service," said Griffin.

Generally speaking operators offer very limited cover for damage to your car
Lee Griffin

"It can be a convenient way to park your car, especially at airports where it will save you having to lug heavy suitcases onto an airport shuttle bus.

"But before you hand over your keys you need to check the implications for your car insurance and carefully read the valet parking operator's terms and conditions.

"These will outline what insurance cover, if any, the operator offers, detailing exclusions, limits and excesses.

"Generally speaking operators offer very limited cover for damage to your car, which you will need to spot and report to them when you collect your vehicle.Van insurance

"Possessions left in your car are generally excluded."

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By Sean Davies