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Who insures my car when it’s left with an airport parking service?

Thankfully damage to cars left at airport parking sites is very rare – IAPA members handle more than one million cars every year and report a complaints rate of much less than 1%. But if the worst should happen, is your car covered for dents and scrapes when you’re on holiday?

Cover for your car can vary depending on where you’ve parked and who you’ve booked with, so take time to check your chosen operator’s terms and conditions before you complete the booking.

So, who’s insurance covers your car for airport parking?

The quick answer is that cars in airport parking are primarily covered by your own insurance policy, however good quality Park & Ride and Meet & Greet operators will accept responsibility for damage caused to paintwork and bodywork through their negligence and will repair any problems.

But with so many airport parking options, cover will vary depending on what service you book.

Parking at the airport

For any self-park service, such as on-site airport parking, you are leaving your car at your own risk, which means any repairs have to be covered by your own insurance.

Park & Ride

When you leave your car with a Park & Ride service where the car is parked for you, most operators will make good any damage caused through their fault or negligence. They may reserve the right to use their own contractors to complete this work.

In most cases, cover does not usually extend to problems caused by third-parties, such as theft, break-ins or damage to any personal property left in cars, which is when the customer’s own insurance will take over. The very best operators will have insurance to cover this

As car parks are usually open-air facilities, most operators will not be held responsible for damage caused by the elements, such as extreme weather or bird poo. But again, the best operators will often wash cars when trees or birds leave a mess

Additionally, operators will not take responsibility for car faults that are outside of their control, such as problems with tyres, engines, electrical or mechanical parts, unless you can show this was caused through their fault or negligence.

Most parking companies will take and store photos of your car as you arrive, making it easy to resolve complaints about new damage quickly and openly.

It’s common for people to inspect their car thoroughly when they come back from holiday, only to spot previously unseen damage that was present before they went away

One stipulation all parking operators make is that customers must inspect their vehicle and report any damage before they leave the car park for a claim to be valid..

Meet & Greet parking

If you choose a Meet & Greet service, the operator you select should have appropriate insurance so they can drive your car on public roads. This is crucial, because research by GoCompare showed that more than 50% of car owners’ comprehensive insurance policies won’t cover damage to the vehicle whilst it’s in the control of valet parking staff.

Once the car has been parked at their facility, good quality Meet & Greet operators will provide the same levels of assurance as we listed in the Park & Ride section, which means that they will promise to repair damage caused through their fault or negligence, with some exclusions applying.

Hotel parking

If you’ve chosen to use a hotel parking service, you should be aware that the operator may move your car to a different parking location, so you need to check that they have appropriate insurance to drive your car on public roads, and then confirm the cover status when the car is left at the new location.

Driveway parking

The sharing economy has made it easier for people who live close to airports to hire out their own driveways for low-cost parking, however this will probably mean that you need a taxi both ways, you are leaving the car at your own risk and the person you book with won’t be insured if they move your car for any reason.

Book with a professional service

One of the dangers of booking a dirt-cheap parking service is that you may be booking with someone who is cutting costs by not having the appropriate covers in place. Our advice is to always choose a professional operator, which means avoiding anyone who uses a mobile as their main contact number, has a poor website and no trading address.

All IAPA members promise to provide appropriate cover for your car while it’s in their care. See our members here:

Please note that the information in this article is provided for guidance only. See your operators’ terms and conditions for full details of their cover.

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