Car park hazards – and what your insurance actually covers

Damage to your parked car can put an alarming dent in your wallet. Source: istock

It's something you can really do without. You only popped into the shop for a few minutes and came back to find a huge scratch on your car. And no sign of the culprit! Luckily, your insurance against damage while parked will cover it. At least, you hope so. What if it doesn’t? sheds light on cover, cost restrictions and exclusions.

A little damage can mean a large bill

A dent from a carelessly opened door, a scratch from an escaped shopping trolley, or a mark silently left by the person in the next parking space – regardless of the extent of the damage, the cost to repair it can soon run into few hundred francs. Or will the insurance company help out? tackles the most pressing questions on the subject.

When does parked car insurance apply?

This type of insurance covers damage inflicted by an unknown party on a parked car. If the culprit is known, however, then either their liability insurance or your own fully comprehensive (“full casco”) insurance will pay. So any damage caused by a mishap like scraping your car against a pillar while parking does not constitute parked car damage either – it is covered by fully comprehensive insurance instead.

Doesn’t my insurance policy already cover parked car damage? 

It depends. Although fully comprehensive (or “full casco”) insurance covers dents and scratches, semi-comprehensive (“partial casco”) generally doesn't.

If you have a collision whereby someone crashes into your parked car and then disappears into thin air, then fully comprehensive insurance (which includes collision insurance) will cover it. In this scenario, you have two options: 

  • If you have taken out insurance against damage while parked in addition to your fully or semi-comprehensive insurance, you can receive compensation through this “damage while parked” policy. The advantage of this is that there is no deductible to pay and no threat of losing your no-claims bonus. This is because you can take out insurance against damage while parked without a deductible.
  • If you don’t have this cover, you can claim through your fully comprehensive/collision insurance but the trouble is, your bonus level will be changed and you will have to pay the agreed deductible (usually around 500 to 1,000 francs). You can protect yourself from having your bonus status changed following a claim by taking out a bonus protection supplement.

What if I don't have fully comprehensive cover?

If you don't have fully comprehensive insurance but want some protection against damage not caused by a collision – such as dents and scratches – then insurance against damage while parked is recommended. This kind of policy would pay out in such a case. You usually need at least semi-comprehensive (“partial casco”) insurance as well as third-party/liability insurance in order to take out cover against damage while parked.

How can I insure my vehicle against vandalism?

As a rule, semi-comprehensive insurance will pay out if a vandal intentionally breaks off a wing mirror, antenna, windscreen wiper or accessory, punctures tyres, slashes a convertible soft top, daubs or sprays the paintwork or pours contaminants into the fuel tank.

However, if your car is damaged in connection with a major incident like at the 2017 G20 summit in Hamburg or the 1st May demonstrations in Zurich, you will struggle to claim successfully. This is because insurers usually exclude rebellions, civil unrest, revolts and riots in their general terms and conditions.

How much will the insurer pay?

The amount can vary considerably, as each company offers different models. These models define the number of claims per year as well as as the maximum amount payable per claim. So how exactly do they differ? You have to look carefully. The models range from one parked car damage claim per year with a maximum cost of 1,000 francs to an unlimited number of claims with no cost restrictions.

The premiums vary accordingly. Comparis concludes: before taking out insurance against damage while parked, you are advised to examine the different products, models and premiums in detail.

When can't I take out insurance against damage while parked?

Insurance companies usually impose an age limit, with cover only being available for vehicles up to five years old, for instance. Another proviso is that the vehicle must be in perfect condition.