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We all have that moment of fear when we had the keys over to a valet or parking lot attendant. What if they crash my car? What if they take a joy ride in it and destroy it? It’s enough to cause anyone with car anxiety to roll into a ball.

What do you do if the worst happens and a parking lot attendant crashes your car?

How to keep your car safe when you hand the keys to a valet

Most of us remember the famous valet scene from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” when the parking attendant takes the Ferrari for a high-flying joy ride.  “You fellas have nothing to worry about, I’m a professional,” the valet said. Yeah, right.

We may not drive vintage Ferraris, but we all want our cars to stay safe in a parking garage. Really, most valets are professionals who are entrusted with some very special cars every day. But, it’s nice to know who bears the responsibility, and the costs, of a parking lot crash. According to the insurance information site GetJerry, there are several things you can do to make sure your car stays safe.

When you pick up your car:

  • Do a walk around: Check your bumpers and the corners of your car and make sure it looks like you remember.
  • Check your mileage: Make a note before (or simply snap a picture) of your odometer. Make sure that it didn’t go far because a there aren’t many garages that are miles long.
  • Check your belongings: It’s never a good idea to leave items in a parked car. But, if you do, make sure they’re all there when you get your car back.

What if a valet damaged my car?

A parking lot valet opens his umbrella
A parking lot valet opens his umbrella | Kevin Sullivan via Getty Images

Most garages and professional valet companies or hotels know that accidents happen. They often have claim forms or phone numbers to call to file a claim with their insurance. Most valet companies carry insurance that will pay for damage to your car, and another car if it was hit by a valet.

Your own insurance may cover damage, too, if you carry collision coverage. Most collision coverage policies cover damage done to your car when you’re not driving. If your car is stolen from a private lot, the same rules generally apply.

g it. Your insurance company will likely require a police report, so be prepared to take pictures and document whatever you think is relevant to the situation.

A valet is held responsible for the damage, usually

A parking garage collapse in New York
A Parking lot collapse in New York | Barry Williams via Getty Images

For the full lawyerly take on the issue, a Deadspin lawyer explains why a valet may or may not be responsible. But, in a nutshell, once you trust the valet with your car, they are responsible for it. But, if your car has a faulty handbrake, or if something is wrong with your car that causes an accident, it’s your fault. So, don’t give the keys to a valet for a car you know that has a problem or you can still be liable, no matter who is at the wheel. In rare instances, the parking garage itself could be at fault, like if in the picture above, it collapses, or if a brick from the wall hits your car.


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