Was your car dented by a valet and you want to file damage claims? If YES, here are 5 crucial steps to take when a valet parking company scratches your car.
When you let a valet have your keys and help park your car, you expect them to take care of your car and return it back in the shape you left it in, with anything of value still in it exactly where you left it. Although most valet companies take great care of your car once it’s in their possession, some are not always that careful and professional.
However, if you notice any damage after receiving your car, it’s very necessary you understand how it works and who should bear the responsibility for paying for any damages so that you can take the correct course of action. Once you pick up your car from the valet, you have to take a quick look around to see if there’s any scratch, damage, or if anything is missing inside your car.
5 Important Steps to Take When a Valet Scratches Your Car
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.
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a. Check for Damage Before You Leave the Valet
We can never be too careful, and when your car is left in the care of another individual, it’s important you know its prior state and the valuables you have in them. Also, it’s very important you check for damage immediately before receiving your car from the valet, and before you make any payments or tips.
Before driving 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. Note that by doing this right away; your chances of making a successful claim against the company will be much stronger.
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. If the damage is moderate or severe, it’s important to file a report with the police.
Although this is not always possible since, in some areas, the police will not make a report for accidents that take place in a parking lot. Nonetheless, having a police report will be necessary when filing your claim since it lends credibility to your story.
Additionally, in 24 hours of the incident, you should also hand this info over to your insurance company and explain the incident to them. Note that your insurance company will then decide who is responsible for covering the cost of repairing your car.
b. Speak to the Valet Manager
Once you notice any form of damage on your car, the ideal thing to do is to get as much information as possible to back up your claims. Ensure 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. Immediately, 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.
c. Calmly ask that Repairs be Handled by the Valet
Have it in mind that different valet companies have different ways of handling these situations, and they may be willing to take care of it ASAP without having to go to insurance. So, without raising voices or tempers, 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. It’s advisable you pen down these demands, 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.
d. Check your Insurance
If for instance the valet company is not so willing to handle the problem right away or seems dismissive, then you can take matters into your own hands by looking into their insurance policy. Most valet companies in the united states carry insurance to cover the cost of damage done to your car while it’s in their services.
Although you may likely have to contact someone higher up in the company to learn more about it, and it is important to be persistent. Note that most companies only have liability insurance, which means you will need to prove it was the valet company’s fault.
However, if you are having problems with the valet company’s insurance, you can try going to the establishment 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.
Howbeit, your personal insurance company may be able to provide coverage as well if you have collision insurance. This step should be perhaps become your last resort. Have it in mind that your Insurance company will preferably send their inspector or adjuster to view and carefully document the damages.
After the review and documentation, they will give you authorized repair places and you are usually welcome to take your car to your choice of repair place to get a quote. Your insurance company should call the establishment’s insurance company on your behalf to begin a settlement. Always do your best to not get it repaired until you get varieties of quotes as well as the authorization to proceed from your own insurance company.
e. Decide if You Want to Pursue a Claim
You will also have to determine if you want to file a claim against the valet company, worker and any other affiliated parties for compensation. If your car has only sustained minor damage like some scratches or small dents, you should consider the cost of repairs against your deductible.
If it costs less to repair your vehicle than it does to pay the deductible, you may be better off leaving the insurance company out of it. If your car has major damage, such as a broken door, shattered windshield or some other major blemishes that drastically alter the way your vehicle looks and runs, you should file a claim so you can get your car fixed and be properly compensated for them.
In addition, do not accept a verbal authorization from anyone. Always ensure you put everything in writing so you have a paper trail to lend credibility to your claim if you ever have to go to court and sue for the repairs because the establishment won’t take responsibility and your insurance company will pay, but you have to pay for your deductible and risk.
Who is Responsible When a Valet Scratches your Car?
This varies state by state, but the responsible party when a valet scratches your car depends in part on the valet company and who is at fault.
- The Hotel or Establishment
This depends also on the establishment and the agreement they already have with the valet company. The establishment the valet company serves might cover any damages to your car or pay for stolen property. This might even give you some recourse if for some reason the valet company refuses to honour your claims.
- The Valet Company
Most valet companies in the United States carry enough insurance to help safeguard customers’ cars if one gets damaged. Additionally, the National Parking Association mandates all its members to carry at least $5 million in general and $1 million in legal liability coverage.
- Your Insurance
Note that if the valet company has neither of the above insurance coverage, then your collision coverage, if you carry it, should pay for any damages. Otherwise, you will have to pay for any damage out of pocket or sue the valet company in court, both potentially expensive options.
Just like it was stated above, most valet companies in the U.S. carry enough insurance to cover your vehicle if it gets damaged while in the company’s care.
But if for some reason the company does not have insurance, then your collision coverage, if you’ve got it, should pay for the damages to your car. Nonetheless, just make sure to check your car for damage when picking it up from the valet and you should not have any problems proving the damage occurred in their care.