Valets and Liability. How liable are they?

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You’ve seen it in movies like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” about how irresponsible valets can be with your own car. What’s even scarier is how it doesn’t seem too far from the reality of valet parking. Looking up valets taking joy rides online will make you never want to consider bringing your car to a valet stand.

However, many legitimate valets are professional in their work, in fact some are necessary for elderly people who have difficult walking, or for large events in which parking becomes a hassle for hundreds of drivers. Valets just seem more convenient, but unfortunately their simplicity and management has made it a blooming easy-to-make business, creating yet another market that varies in quality.

But for those who happen to be shopping around a tourist location, if you are afraid of getting your car damaged by valets, then don’t bother. Not to mention that “extra fee” if you want valet parking in the front of a bar or restaurant. This (sometimes) shady business can certainly be one of the slimiest of slimy, but if you happen to get valet parking, maybe you are curious about how liable a valet parking business is when you notice a dent from your door that wasn’t there in the first place.

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Here’s the scoop: whenever you bring yourself to a valet stand, they are sure to give you a small ticket that you must need to retrieve your car. This is not just valet parking ticket with a giant number, there’s words (who knew). This is what valet parking companies call their shield against liability coverage.

But depending on how liability coverage works with your insurance company and under state law, valets and their respective valet parking companies are liable to any damages that may have occurred to your car or someone else’s car as soon as you hand your keys to them. But the little things tend to be tougher to fight for.

Valet parking companies tend to have a reputation to deny claims of liability coverage for any “minor damages” or even scratches. Getting the valet parking companies to own up is hard. Understandably, the valet parking companies tend to be defensive about accusations of fault because of that small chance it might be a fraudulent claim.

This is where the claim-ticket comes through, which is where valets may tell you that the “release of liability” printed on the ticket keeps them from being responsible on the liability coverage. However, this tends to be the responsibility and decision made by insurance companies.

All in all, the fear of valet parking is palpable, which is why you should also take a dive on what makes valet parking companies tick, and what makes them liable for accidents and negligence.

Valets and Valet Parking Companies: How They operate

Places like hotels and malls usually hire valet parking services from another company or manage their own valets, which could mean two things:

  • They have the right insurance for liability coverage in case something happens to a client’s car by the fault of their valets.
  • The valet parking company that had been hired has their own liability coverage and will be responsible for the damages.

There are two types of valet parking insurance that a business needs if they are offering valets and their services to be legally protected and have the necessary liability coverage.  The first one is known as Garage Liability. In this type of policy, it will protect their business from claims involving bodily injury and property damage that were caused by their valets if they were involved in an accident with a customer’s car.

Garage Liability coverage only protects the business from any damages like repairs needed for the other person’s car, as well as any medical costs from personal injuries sustained by the driver (and passengers) within the vehicle. However, the policy from this coverage does not cover any of the damages caused to a client’s car.

This is where Garagekeepers Legal Liability coverage steps in. This type of insurance policy will pay for the damages from a customer’s car due to negligence by any of the valets. Still not getting it? Here’s a breakdown of the two with examples:

  • Garage Liability: If one of the valet’s crashes into another car, that other car, its driver, and its passengers are covered by this policy.
  • Garagekeeepers: If one of the valet’s totals or does some damage to a customer’s car, this policy covers the customer’s car and any of the damages.

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Another thing to note is that a major organization known as the Parking Management Services of America carries all the required insurance for their valet parking companies and protect these businesses from legal liability. Not to mention they screen their valets, and make sure every valet stands and valet company they have are of the utmost quality.

Now that you may seem a little less intimidated by the valet stands, valet parking companies, and valets, here are some tips in making sure you are in control of your car, even when the valets have it.

How do deal with valets if your car is damaged

These three simple tips will make valets wish they never crossed you, and always remember that they are liable. Be headstrong and clear on any problems you have with your car when you retrieve those keys:

  1. Inspect your car before you give valets your key: If you plan on using a valet stand often, then get used to walking around your car once a day, as well as looking into your interior. That way, if you see something that looks off, you are 100 percent sure.
  2. What to do if you notice damage: Don’t delay, as soon as you check your car before leaving, talk to the business or the valet parking company (whichever one that will end up being responsible) about the damage. Be firm. If they discredit your claims, be sure you document the damages to your insurance company and be ready to take them to court if they don’t have liability coverage.
  3. Be educated about liability coverage: Always know who is responsible for the damages your car may have suffered on the hands of valets. The more educated you are in valets and the valet stand, the more likely you will win!

Valets shouldn’t be all bad, but never get played like a fool if a valet parking company tries to sweep you under the rug. Now you know what you know, so enjoy valets for what they can do: Keep you from walking around packed parking lots!

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