For many drivers, the car is their pride and joy. Just a scratch would break their heart. So seeing someone else behind the wheel can be an unnerving experience – even when you've knowingly handed over the keys. Whether it's a parking valet or a garage mechanic, you want to be sure that they're covered to drive your vehicle temporarily.
You might assume that your own insurance covers temporary drivers. But is it stated in your policy? In fact, most insurers don't cover 'damage to a vehicle while in the control of valet parking staff'.
Does my car insurance cover a short-term handover?
Car insurance policies should be clear as to whether they do or don't cover letting someone else drive your car for a short period of time. Policies that do may say that your car will be covered if it 'is in the custody or control of a member of the motor trade for service or repair'. For peace of mind, AA car insurance does include this cover.
Certain policies may also cover valet parking staff, or employees of a hotel, restaurant or car parking service. But always check before let your beloved chariot out of your sight. Again, this cover is included in AA car insurance.
Motor trade insurance
Motor trade insurance allows businesses and individuals to stay road legal while they have customers' vehicles under their 'control, care or custody'. This cover is necessary for garages, for example, that will at some point be driving other people's cars.
Only legitimate motor trade businesses are eligible for this type of insurance. Their cover starts as soon as you hand over your car keys for the service they provide.
As well premises and contents cover, garages need to have road risk insurance. This allows mechanics to drive vehicles in their care, such as a test drive after a repair. But you can rest assured, this policy wouldn't cover them to drive your car around as if it was their own on a Saturday night.
Like normal insurance, there are two basic levels of motor trade insurance: third party, fire and theft; and comprehensive. There's also a wide range of policy add-ons available, and businesses will include what they need.
Although not as a common in the UK as the US, valet parking is increasingly being offered by airports, hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues. It's certainly convenient and time saving, as well as making you feel like a celebrity.
But do check that your insurance allows you to use the service, and what the implications are if your car gets damaged. Meanwhile, the valet parking operator or the business the valet is working for will have their own terms and conditions, so check with them too. Their terms will outline what valet parking insurance they have, with details on what's included and any limitations.
When your car's returned, give it a good inspection before driving away, just to see if there are any dents or scratches that weren't there before. If your car has been damaged by a valet, or in the car park, the cover they normally offer is very limited. To claim for any damage, you'll need to report it to them when you pick up the car.
Insurance on a car ferry
If you're planning a ferry trip to the Continent with your car, check your car insurance again. You should have some level of cover on the vessel, but not all insurers have the same policy options. For some, the insurance protection on a ferry may not be as extensive as it is on a UK road.
Our car insurance still applies while your car is being transported abroad (including loading and unloading) along a recognised sea or rail route between the UK and the EU, and several other European countries too.
Other drivers and your car
Meanwhile, if you're allowing someone else to drive your pride for an extended period of time, short-term car insurance may be a suitable antidote to separation anxiety.
Or else our comprehensive car insurance covers most situations, including temporary drivers. Get in touch to see what else is included.