Valet parking is a very helpful convenience, but if they end up damaging your car, it can leave you feeling frustrated and confused. Not only did you trust them to handle the situation, but now you aren’t sure exactly who’s at fault and whether insurance will cover it. Unfortunately, this situation happens frequently, and in many cases, the valet will try to disguise the damage and hope you don’t notice. Valet companies deal with damage claims frequently and are experienced in avoiding responsibility, but if you take the right approach, you can come out on top of the situation. Here’s what to do when valet parking damages your car.
Check for damage before you leave the valet
You can’t be too careful when it comes to leaving your car in someone else’s hands, which is why you should always check for damage immediately before giving your car to the valet, immediately after getting your car back from the valet, and before you make any payments or tips. Before pulling away, take your time looking around the car to make sure everything is in good condition, and take pictures of any damage that you find. By doing this right away, your chances of making a successful claim against the company will be much higher. Having the before and after photos also make it much easier to prove that the damage happened at the valet parking lot and not when you were driving it.
Ask to speak to the valet manager
When you notice damage on your car, the first thing to do is try to get as much information as possible to back up your claims. Make sure you get the names of everyone at the valet company who drove your car, as well as details of exactly what happened, and note them down immediately. Then, ask to speak with the manager. You should immediately demand a refund of your parking fee and then ask for a claims form. Make sure you fill it out in detail and get the management to sign it as well.
Politely demand that repairs be covered by the valet
Different valet companies have different ways of handling these situations, and they may be willing to take care of it promptly without having to go to insurance. Without getting angry or emotional, ask for your repairs to be covered by the valet company at a repair facility that is reputable and convenient for you. You can also ask them to cover the cost of your transportation while the repairs are going on. Put these demands in writing as well, and do it right away. If you are clear and firm with what you want, you are more likely to get a good result in a timely fashion.
Look into insurance
If the valet company isn’t willing to take care of the problem right away or seems dismissive, it’s time to take matters into your own hands by looking into their insurance policy. Many valet companies do carry insurance to cover the cost of damage done to your car while it’s in their services. You will likely have to contact someone higher up in the company to learn more about it, and it is important to be persistent. Many companies only have liability insurance, which means you will need to prove it was the valet company’s fault. Stand firm in your story and don’t back down – you deserve to have your car repaired at no cost to you.
If you are having problems with the valet company’s insurance, you can try going to the hotel or restaurant that the valet company was working for. Although they won’t necessarily have insurance, they might be able to cover the cost of repairs and any other inconveniences you experienced as a result of the incident, particularly if the valet company refuses to cover your claims. In the worst case scenario, your personal insurance company may be able to provide coverage as well if you have collision insurance. However, this step should be used as a last resort.
Take legal action
Another option you have is to take legal action against the valet company if you cannot get compensation for the damages. However, this can be a very expensive and time-consuming process, so it’s usually only worth it if the damages to your car were severe and your car was quite valuable. Otherwise, keep pushing and being persistent with the valet company directly. If you make it clear to them that you aren’t going to go away, they will likely give in eventually so they no longer have to deal with the problem.
We tend to trust valets, so when one damages your car, it can be very frustrating. Don’t let them walk all over you – you deserve reparations, and you are within your rights to file a claim and be persistent about getting the compensation you deserve.