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Valet parking and your car insurance

Valet parking is something you’ll increasingly find at fancy hotels and restaurants, or even at the airport. But, if you use it, will your car insurance cover you? Here’s what you need to know.

Valet parking is something you’ll increasingly find at fancy hotels and restaurants, or even at the airport. But, if you use it, will your car insurance cover you? Here’s what you need to know.

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance comparison expert
Reviewed by
Rory Reid
Car and technology expert
Last Updated
5 JUNE 2023
4 min read
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What is valet parking?

Valet parking is a service some businesses provide where, on arrival, you hand over your car keys to a steward. The steward then parks your car in a designated safe place.

Also sometimes called ‘meet and greet parking’, valet parking is normally associated with high-end hotels and restaurants or large conferences and events. However, you can also find it at airports and some larger shopping centres.

Valet parking could save you time and stress. But what happens if the valet backs your car into a pillar or something goes missing from the boot? What do you do if your car is stolen and can you claim on your car insurance?

Does my car insurance cover valet parking? 

You may find that your car insurance doesn’t cover valet parking. When you take out a car insurance policy, you need to provide the main driver’s name, together with the names of any additional drivers. Any unnamed drivers won’t be covered.

Most car insurance policies will allow for the car to be in the control of a mechanic for a short time for service or repair. But this type of short-term handover cover often doesn’t apply to valet parking services.

The first thing to do is to check your policy. The terms and conditions should clearly state whether you’re covered for valet parking. Your policy should also list any exclusions. If your insurance doesn’t cover valet parking and your car is damaged or stolen while you’re using the service, you won’t be able to claim.

What happens if my car is stolen from valet parking?

Even if your car insurance covers valet parking, make sure you check the small print. For example, some valet parking companies might leave your keys inside the car. Doing this may invalidate your claim if the car is then stolen.

If leaving your car with a valet, make sure it is parked in a secure location. You should also check that there are security measures, such as CCTV, in place.

What to do if your car is stolen

Is there such a thing as car valet insurance?

Yes, valet parking insurance is available for companies who offer that service.

Any reputable valet service should have its own valet parking insurance. But you may want to check the terms and conditions to see if there are any exclusions.

As soon as you collect your car, make sure you check for and report any damage. It’s likely you won’t be covered for any belongings left in the car, so always take them with you.

Meet and greet parking

If you don’t spend much time in luxury hotels or Michelin-starred restaurants, you might only encounter valet parking services when you’re going on holiday.

It’s often called ‘meet and greet' parking at airports, but it’s basically the same as valet parking. That means your car insurance may not cover it, so be sure to check your policy terms.

How to valet park safely

There are steps you can take to valet park safely, including:

  • Check your car insurance policy to see if you’re covered for using valet parking services.
  • If you plan to use hotel or restaurant valet parking, check the arrangements and terms and conditions carefully.
  • Be cautious about using valet services offered unexpectedly. If you do decide to go ahead, check the arrangements with the venue or event organiser as soon as you can.
  • Don’t leave valuables or personal belongings in the car.
  • Check your car when you pick it up – and report any damage immediately.

Read our guide to making a claim

How to choose a valet service

When deciding whether to use a valet parking service, check for the following:

  • Do they require all members of staff to have a full, clean UK driving licence?
  • Do they have car valet insurance? 

  • Do they provide any cover if your vehicle is stolen from the valet car park? 

  • Do they provide any cover for damage to the vehicle?

  • Are they a member of the Park Mark Safer Parking scheme?

  • Will your car be parked on public or private property?
  • What security is in place to protect your car from theft?

Frequently asked questions

Should I tip when valet parking?

In the US, where valet parking is much more common, it’s standard practice to tip the valet when they return your car.

There’s no obligation to do so here in the UK, but it’s good manners and they’ll definitely appreciate the gesture. £1-£5 is usual.

Is valet parking safe?

Valets park dozens of cars every day so are familiar with different makes and models. But problems with rogue valet parking companies have been reported.

Before you book, check that your car will be insured and parked in a secure location. Make sure the valet car park has British Parking Association’s Park Mark – this means it’s been checked for security.

Find a Park Mark car park

What’s the difference between car valeting and valet parking?

Confusingly. when it comes to your car, valet can mean two different things. 

Valet parking is a service offered by high end hotels and restaurants, where a steward parks your car for you. That means rather than worrying about finding a parking spot, you can head straight in, feeling like a celebrity.

However, car valeting can also refer to a professional deep clean of your car’s exterior and interior.  

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Julie Daniels - motor insurance comparison expert

Julie is passionate about delivering a great customer experience and rewarding people for saving on their insurance through our loyalty and rewards programme. She’s spoken to the media, including outlets like Sky News and Capital FM, about car and home insurance, as well as our rewards scheme.

Learn more about Julie

Rory Reid - car and technology expert

Rory Reid is a car and technology expert. He serves as the main presenter on Auto Trader’s YouTube channel and was previously a host on BBC Top Gear and its sister show Extra Gear. He is also a presenter on Fifth Gear. Previously, he hosted Sky TV’s Gadget Geeks, CNET’s Car Tech channel, BBC Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition and on the YouTube channel Fast, Furious & Funny.

Learn more about Rory

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