Do you really park at your own risk?

A recent incident at Luton Airport has us got us thinking; are you really liable for your own vehicle if there’s a crisis? We investigate.

Put yourself in this scenario: you’ve landed back home, feeling a weary from travel, made it through airport security and collected your suitcase. All that’s left to do is head to the car park and find your car where you left it, so you can head home. But, when you get there, your vehicle has been destroyed in a huge fire.

For around 25,000 travellers, that scenario was a reality recently when a fire broke out on the third floor of the newly built Luton Airport Terminal 2 car park, throwing travel plans into chaos. The car park partially collapsed as a result of the blaze, and between 1,200-1,500 vehicles are thought to be affected.

Luckily, no one was injured, but it’s left many in limbo when it comes to sorting out an insurance claim.

Whenever you park, whether it’s a small, town centre car park or a massive multi-storey, you often see signs that read something like: “Users of this car park do so at their own risk. The management will not accept responsibility for damage, accident or loss.” Essentially, it’s a way for the car park operator to protect themselves.

But where does it leave you as a motorist?

Comprehensive and third-party fire and theft motor insurance policies should cover fire damage, but it’s always worth checking with your insurer to understand what is and isn’t included (we can help you with this, it’s what we’re here for).

For the many affected, it’s been encouraging to see insurers act in a timely way to the incident at Luton Airport, understand the unusual circumstances, and take reasonable steps to help motorists.

Our Divisional Director of Operations, Alastair Chapman, explains: “Returning from a holiday to find your car destroyed is certainly a nightmare scenario for travellers, who will have simply wanted to get back to normality after their journeys. Those impacted by the incident at Luton Airport will understandably have concerns about how this affects their car insurance policy, as well as wondering how they’re going to get home!

Most car parks will display signs suggesting that you’re parking at your own risk, but we’ve seen a pragmatic approach from insurers. Helpful short-term steps, such as covering clients’ travel home once they’ve arrived back in the UK, including those whose return flights have been diverted to an alternative airport have been offered. They have also established a dedicated phoneline for clients to discuss their individual circumstances.

Many of the insurers on our panel have agreed to waive the policy excesses if a vehicle has been damaged in this incident, or a similar event and others have said that clients’ no claims discount entitlement won’t be affected even if they can’t recover their costs. So, even with warning signs in place, insurers have been treating claims as if they were non-fault by agreeing to these conditions.”

So, as Alastair says, even with the warning signs in place, don’t be put off about your prospects if you do need to make a claim. If it’s a large-scale incident such as the Luton Airport fire, then it’s likely that insurers will make allowances, given the circumstances. And if it’s something isolated to your vehicle, then it’s still worth contacting your insurer to get a clear picture of how you’re covered.

What are the benefits of an insurance broker?

Anytime it comes to making a claim, or reviewing your policy, it can feel overwhelming. That’s why working with a broker can help make sense of your insurance, finding the right balance to make sure you are only covered for what you need, while avoiding costly underinsurance.

With the current insurance landscape, it’s more important than ever that when it comes to renewing or obtaining new insurance, or making a claim, you get the right advice – and better value for your increased premium, which is where your local Howden branch comes in. Our team of experts do the heavy lifting so that you don’t have to.

Alastair continued: “Our insurer relations team are in constant conversations with insurers about how they can and should assist in a scenario like this and can help clients deal with the stress by offering practical solutions.”

If you are concerned, or facing difficulties, your local branch team is on hand and available to help you. Simply search Howden Insurance, give your local team a call or simply pop into your local branch for a chat.

Sources: Sky News, BBC, ABI

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