How to avoid an airport parking disaster 

If you’re thinking of going abroad this summer, arranging secure parking in or around the airport may be something you need to organise. Holidaymakers who fail to research their airport parking risk leaving their cars with unscrupulous operators who resort to storing vehicles at inappropriate locations or who fail to have the correct insurance in place to cover your vehicle.

The last thing you want when you return from your holiday is to see that your vehicle has been damaged, especially when you have paid for it to be looked after. Here at Budget Insurance we have teamed up with the Independent Airport Parking Association (IAPA) to provide some top tips on how to avoid a parking disaster this summer.

How do I know which airport car parking company to choose?

When it comes to booking your airport parking, it pays to be selective. Choosing the cheaper provider might save you some money, but you may be sacrificing secure storage of your vehicle. The IAPA suggests that you consider the following:

1. Look out for the logo

The IAPA advises that you choose an operator that displays the blue Park Mark logo. This means that the operator’s parking facility has been police assessed and is properly managed and maintained with appropriate levels of security and surveillance in place.

2. Do they have a contact number?

If you need to contact the parking operator before, during or after your holiday, you will need a contact telephone number, especially if it’s an emergency.

3. Is there a clear trading address?

It may be worth checking to see if the operator has an address on their website. You may need this should you need to write to the operator or need to know where they are located. If you can’t find an address associated with the company it may be suspicious.

Is a cheap price too good to be true?

Companies that undercut the market might be making savings by using unsuitable parking facilities such as fields, pub car parks or even public roads. If your car was left in an unsecure location the risk of damage or theft may increase. If, for example, you are leaving your car for two weeks while you’re on holiday, thieves may be more likely to notice that it has been left for a prolonged period of time and may take their chances, whereas if your car is on a secure, insured site, thieves are less likely to see or be able to access it. Follow the steps below before you book.

1. Do your research and compare prices

If the price you have been offered is considerably lower than other providers, it may be worth reading the small print and understand what’s included within the price that’s been offered.

2. Keep an eye out for offers

You may find that some cashback sites offer you cash for booking your parking through them. If you have a preferred provider, you may be able to find a discount code by searching online.

Are there any extra hidden charges to look for?

Some companies may advertise a very low price and then add extra charges to bump up the cost. If a price looks too good to be true, in some cases it very well might be. Always check what’s included in the price before you book to ensure there are no extra costs. Here’s what to look out for…

Airport access fee

Airports usually charge a fee to the operator to allow them to use their services. Some operators may include this fee within the initial price, but some may add this on as an additional charge.

Transfer fee

You may find the parking facility you have chosen is not within walking distance of the terminal, in which case you would need a transfer. This service may not be included in the initial price you have paid so it’s worth checking with your operator to see if there’s an extra charge.

The easiest way to check if there are any additional fees is to look at the terms and conditions displayed on the operator’s website. If you struggle to find the document it might be worth contacting the operator to get the information directly from them.

What do their reviews say?

When you book your holiday, you probably look at reviews for the hotel to be able to make an informed decision on whether or not to book. The same rules should apply for airport parking – look for operators who use an independent review service to publish their customer feedback. This shows that the operator is happy to share customer feedback and good customer experience is important to them. 

What insurance cover do I need for a valet service?

A valet service involves customers leaving their cars with an operator who will then park the car for them. When you leave your car with an operator it’s your responsibility to ensure insurance cover is in place. Some insurance policies may exclude damage caused when a car is left with a valet service, so it is worth checking with your insurer before you book. The easiest way to check whether your insurance covers you for a valet service is to read the terms and conditions displayed in your policy documents.

If you find that your insurance policy does not cover your car for a valet service, you may need to speak to the car parking operator to see if they have any insurance in place. The last thing you would want is to return from your holiday to realise that your car has been damaged and is not covered under any insurance.

While planning and preparing for your holiday, make sure you’ve got your travel insurance sorted; we can’t stress enough the importance of having the right cover in place while you’re away. For more information on travel insurance click here.

What details should be confirmed when making a booking through a hotel?

If you are booking your airport parking as part of a hotel stay, it's likely your car will be stored at another location. Ensure you ask for the following details before leaving your car:

Park Mark award

Check with the hotel to see if the car park they use has a Park Mark award. This is an award that is given to each car park that sets safety standards under The Safe Parking Scheme.

Insurance

It might be worth asking the hotel about the insurance they have in place before you book, so you know whose responsibility it is, should something happen. 

What other safety points should I consider?

Keep your car tidy

Before you leave for the airport, it’s probably a good time to have a quick clear out of items from your car – any possessions that you’re not taking with you would be better left at home. If you’re using a Sat-Nav to get to the airport, make sure it’s hidden out of sight to prevent theft. You‘re likely to have your house keys with you, so ensure you take them with you – the last thing you would want is for thieves to break into your car and have easy access to your home. If you need to leave any valuables in the car, make sure they are kept out of sight, i.e. the glove box.

Check for damage

Before you leave your car it’s worth checking and making a note or taking pictures of any existing dents and scrapes before you set off to the airport. If you return from your holiday and notice any new damage, you may need to report this to the operator before you leave the facility.

If you’re looking to find a trusted company to book airport car parking with, you may wish to visit the Independent Airport Parking Association where you can see their approved operators. IAPA’s approved operators are assessed on their highest levels of professionalism and service, so customers don’t need to worry about car parking security and insurance.

To find out more visit https://www.iapa.me.uk/members.

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