What Would You Do If A Hotel Valet Crashed Your Car?

Filed Under: Hotels, Misc.

Well, life on the road may not always be glamorous, but it’s certainly never boring.

I’ll just get right to it: A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were working in different cities, when I got this late-night text message from him:

WHAT?!?!?!

What the heck happened?

My husband was checking into his hotel fairly late and needed to have his car parked at the hotel’s garage. Given that it was outside of “usual” check-in hours, the night manager was working double-duty as the valet driver. My husband left his keys at the desk, went to his room, and got a phone call ten minutes later that went something like this:

Umm, sir, you’re going to need to come down here I’msosorryI’msosorry I ran your car into a wall I’msosorryI’msosorry.

(Okay, that may not be the exact transcript, but that was definitely the sentiment.)

Here’s what actually happened – after my husband left, the manager drove the car into the on-site garage. Problem is, my husband drives a manual, and this particular driver does not.

And hotel parking lots probably aren’t the best place to give yourself an impromptu driver’s ed lesson.

Long story short, he went to “hit the brake” and the car wouldn’t stop. Eventually, the nearest wall stopped the car, and it turned out like this:

RIP

And yes, the driver was indeed hitting the clutch.

The aftermath

For the purposes of this post, I’m deliberately not going to include the name of the hotel, at least for the time being. We are still working with their insurance, and frankly, I don’t want anyone involved to jump to any premature conclusions (and I’ve been waiting to write this until we had some more conclusive information on the outcome).

If you read here often enough, you can probably deduce that the hotel in question is a limited service property belonging to a major hotel chain, in a city populated enough to warrant limited service properties having their own valet garages. But I’ll leave it at that, for now.

Now, that’s not to say that it’s been an easy process. Here is a rough summary of how the sequence of events have played out, so far:

  • Night 1 – Car was totaled, surprised texts were exchanged, hotel guy promised free stays for life (hah!), no progress was made.
  • Day 2 – Hotel accountant told my husband that their insurance company would reach out. (Side note – she called from her kid’s after-school sports practice – clearly they are understaffed.) My husband picked up rental car but had to charge it to his card, at least temporarily. He was given the name of a contact person from the insurance company.
  • Days 3-4 – Phone and email tag began – my husband began calling and did not get ahold of anyone. He finally reached someone from insurance company on day 5, who promised they would have more information shortly.
  • Day 8 – He finally heard back from the insurance company and was told that the car “had been looked at,” and that they would get back to him with an assessment in 2-3 days.
  • Days 11-14 – Three days passed, you can guess what did (or didn’t) happen. More messages were left.
  • Day 15 – He finally heard back from insurance company that the car was a total loss. The hotel’s insurance would pay out the current Blue Book value of the car, plus rental car for up to 30 days, which is standard practice from insurance companies.

In theory, they are picking up the car from the hotel on Day 18. We’ll see.

I imagine that the hotel is probably covered by some sort of general insurance, rather than an auto-specific policy, since I can’t imagine they get this kind of claim too often. And I’m sure that is a huge part of the holdup.

That said, when the incident first happened, we didn’t really have the bandwidth to do much more than get my husband behind the wheel of something and figure out the insurance situation.

But we’re now two and a half weeks in, and we still don’t have a check for the value of the car (much less a car in our name). And I’m starting to wonder if maybe I’m missing something here.

What would you do?

I’m really torn here. On the one hand, I don’t necessarily want to ruffle any more feathers, and I really don’t want to get anyone fired. We’re getting a check for the value of old car, a rental car for 30 days (pretty significant for a road warrior), and they did cover the night at the hotel (all $149 of it).

On the other hand, this isn’t a case of a noisy neighbor or a cold shower – a hotel employee wrecked our car.

Even with the insurance buyout from the total loss, there’s at least a $10,000 gap between the check we are getting and the cost of a new(ish) car, which isn’t an expense that we were necessarily planning for this winter. To say nothing of the hours that have been put into chasing down the insurance company and dealing with the various administrative hurdles (as I write this, my husband is en route to the bank to get a document notarized – one of the many requirements before we can get our insurance check in hand).

The biggest issue, at this point, isn’t even the time spent per day – one email here or a phone call there isn’t a huge deal. Rather, our frustration is around the fact that we are two and a half weeks in, and aren’t much further along than we were when this whole shenanigan started.

To put things in perspective, I was rear ended a year and a half ago. My car was deemed a total loss the next day – and I was behind the wheel of a new car eight days later.

And I wasn’t a paying customer of the guy who rear ended me.

So the way I see this, we could go several ways:

  • Contact the hotel directly and see if they’re willing to give additional compensation for our general headaches around the whole process.
  • Contact the hotel directly to give them feedback on how bad the insurance experience has been, with no intention of necessarily asking for additional compensation.
  • Contact the larger hotel chain for additional compensation, or to give general feedback on their insurance provider.
  • Cut our losses, let it go, and enjoy the new car.
  • Other?

As always, I’m sure there are plenty of opinions out there, so I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Are we being too soft? Too demanding? Just right?

Bottom line

If you live in the U.S. and drive a car with a manual transmission, park it yourself.

What do you think? Should we cut our losses, or seek additional compensation?

Comments
  1. Absolutely go after them with all the power you have. As a valet in college, we all had to be able to drive a manual. The manager is a grown man – and a manager at that. He should have simply admitted he was filling in and that he couldn’t drive it. I wouldn’t feel bad about firing him. People who can’t set aside their own ego for a situation like this need to learn a hard lesson.

    Any one of us valets would have been fired for totaling a car like that. I’m not sure this guy deserves any less.

    What’s more:

    If you’re not going to cover the $10k to get a new one, and decide to buy based off the blue book value – you just never quite know what you’re going to get.

    I’d edit this post to call the hotel out and go straight up to the big chain.

  2. Sorry that happened, sounds like a no fun process.

    Did you ever call your insurance company? When I was in a wreck (got rear ended), I never once interacted with the other party’s insurance. The valet piece is also an interesting wrinkle as usually a hotel will subcontract it out for this reason. Also keep in mind depending on the state you may be required to fill out an accident report and submit to the DMV.

    In terms of getting people fired. If the valet lied about knowing how to drive a stick, a simple requirement of valets, they should be fired.

  3. I work in Auto claims.

    You can choose to go through your own insurance if you have collision coverage on your car. Have you carrier inspect the vehicle and pay out damages immediately. Your carrier will collect back/ subrogate the $$ they paid (including your deductible) from the hotel’s insurance Carrier. No adverse result to your driving record.

    I would definitely see what other perk that the hotel chain can provide for you. Good luck.

    By the way, this claim could take up to 30 days total that why they allowed that much rental coverage for you.

  4. The value of the car is, unfortunately, from an insurance perspective the value of the car.

    You should be getting retail blue book, not wholesale, which is a significant difference.

    You should have involved your insurance company and probably still should. This isn’t your responsibility. Your car was insured when this happened, it doesn’t matter that the driver was a hotel clerk. Your car was still insured.

    You’re not likely to extract additional compensation if you don’t ask. You don’t have to say, “Give me X”. You have to list out the multitude inconveniences and basically say, “This doesn’t feel like appropriate compensation for all the heartache and hassle.” I’m not opposed to explicitly asking Marriott/IHG/Choice/Whoever this is, “What can you do to make this right?”

    There is no $10,000 unexpected expense. You should be able to acquire a comparable car for the settlement. If you wish to upgrade to a newer car with a value of $10,000 more than your recently demised Subaru, sure you’ll pay. I’m not sure what model year you had but let’s say a new Impreza is $25,000 or so with decent options. A 4-year-old Impreza will be around half that in a private-party sale. So without knowing way more details, we can approximately conclude that the $10,000 gap is somewhere around 3-4 years of car age. (If the Subaru was a Legacy or whatnot, it will be more like a 3-year gap as the dollars per year of depreciation increases.)

    The only way you’re looking at a $10,000 gap is if you choose to use this opportunity to upgrade your car over what you had. And if you do, I suspect a ~$200 monthly payment will cover the “gap” between the check you’re getting and the new car. That’s annoying and may be unafforable but it’s more manageable for most of us than a $10,000 expense!

  5. Also, if their company is dragging their heels issuing payment, since they are liable, they owe rental in excess of 30 days if they haven’t issued payment by then.

    The 30 day limit is your own insurance limit. Their policy limits don’t limit their financial responsibility to you. For example, if you were hurt, and they had only $25k in liability limits, that doesn’t mean their liability to you is limited to $25k, it’s just not all covered by insurance.

    The only sensible option, if you have insurance, is to let your insurance company handle it. Then they get made whole and recover your deductible through the other company. You’ll probably get much better service that way.

  6. It seems that the hotel had tasked someone with the responsibility of parking cars who was not properly trained to do so (the hotel should have anticipated guests with manual cars). Did the valet even say anything about not being familiar with a manual gear box before taking the keys?

    But at the same time I’m curious to know about their standard liability clause (you leave your car with them at your own risk).

    There’s two sides to this, but for $10K it’s worth challenging them to get this figure reduced or removed. Might even be worth proper legal advice.

    I’m intrigued as to how this develops.

  7. the retail blue book is not only the insurance value, but the value of the financial damages if you took them to court. In some insurance policies (usually homeowners), they offer replacement coverage, but that’s not found in auto for the most part, and would only be in your policy for collision, not their policy for liability.

    If you lost wages due to issues arising out of the the lost transportation, you can claim that with the responsible party’s insurer.

  8. This happened to me at Hilton Rotterdam several years ago. Lucky it was a hire car rather than my own, and the damage is a lot less than this one.

    As one commenter has said, if driving a manual transmission is so unusual in US, make damn sure the person parking can drive manual. I would even file a customer service complaint, not out of spite, but so that a policy like this can at the least be considered if it’s a chain hotel.

    Bad luck I’m afraid… I can’t really suggest anything because I have no idea how the insurance processes work over there!

  9. You do not have to take the value they originally assess your car at. They are supposed to reimburse you for what it would cost to replace your vehicle with an identical replacement. Use online sites and find examples of your vehicle (same year, model, features, mileage) within about 50 miles of where you live and send them those examples. I did that when mine got totaled and they increased the payout. It may not cover the entire $10,000 but it should help.

  10. Call your insurance agent NOW. And a lawyer if it becomes necessary. The administrative hassle is self-imposed, as you should have called your insurance agent immediately and let them deal with it. That is part of the cost of insurance.

  11. This happened to me in Belgium. I never got my money back, but after a lot of fighting the hotel did comp me the room.

  12. As someone who drives stick, this is probably my worst driving nightmare in the US!

    I think the hotel definitely needs to take more responsibility than they are claiming. The problem comes down them not being prepared to handle a situation where a guest has a manual transmission. The second the employee saw your husband’s car, he must have known he couldn’t drive it. My sister has run out to my car before me to warm it up in a parking lot, and doesn’t even know how to start the car (engage clutch while turning the key – obvious to some). The employee knew he couldn’t drive, but the hotel gave him no option to resolve the situation – therefore they are clearly at fault and should take more responsibility.

    I’d give the individual property a chance to rectify, then if that doesn’t work, go to the global chain.

    I also super appreciate how you both didn’t immediately go to Twitter and social media to blast the property. Giving them a chance to rectify before making this a huge to-do, is the fair move.

  13. First, I know you don’t want to get anyone fired. But a valet who cannot drive a manual drive car should be relieved of those duties in favor of someone who can. This is not at all punitive. Rather, it is entirely practical. It would be nice if that person can have reassigned duties, but if that is not feasible, he really has to go.

    You feel you are $10,000 short because that is the gap between your check and a “new(ish)” car. Getting a “new(ish)” car out of the transaction would constitute a “betterment”. I know – your totaled car was one you valued at some amount in excess of resale value – otherwise you would have happily sold it for that resale value. And you likely would not take a check for the resale value and roll the dice on a used car being sold for the resale value, hence you thinking you need to upgrade to the tune of $10,000.

    But resale value is the proper measure of damages. It sucks, because you would surely have replaced the Subaru one day, but you were going to do that on your terms, not terms accelerated by some joker.

  14. The hotel most likely has “Garage Keepers Liability” which provides coverage for damage to someone else’s vehicle in your care, in this case the valet. It’s an enhancement to an Auto Policy. You’re basically owed the value of your car, which is “negotiable” as blue book isn’t the only way to value a car as well as any expenses incurred as a result of the loss of your car i.e rental car…

    The Hotel really owes you nothing, that’s why they buy insurance, to handle the financial aspect of making you Whole, but you could possibly squeeze something out in terms of points of free stays.

    You could hire an attorney, but you’ll probably come out worst, because he’ll take a 30% cut of whatever you get.

    The easiest path forward is to report it to your auto insurance company. They’ll pay out your claim immediately per the terms of your policy and will then go after the hotels insurance to get reimbursed.

  15. Your timeline is totally normal for insurance claims. Having the car declared a total loss and receiving a valuation within 15 days is actually pretty good. Since total loss valuations are typically done by outside firms, that part of the process can hold things up considerably.

    In my experience, total loss claims are typically settled within 30 days of the loss. Generally nearer 30 days than 15.

    Source: I work in insurance, dealing with claims issues like this daily.

  16. First off, you got a great hubby. It takes a man who appreciates machines to drive a stick Subaru.

    I’m also guessing Boston/NY.

    Like others suggested, call YOUR insurance.
    Send additional claims to hotel, make sure you ask for a comparable ‘replacement’ value and not residual value.
    Small claims court might help.

    Use the blogger card to meet demands + pain + suffering and sign NDA.

    All else, take what insurance reimburse you and go public on this blog about everything every detail, sharing facts is not defamation. Other blogs will pick this up. Fox and CNN will pick this up.

    Being a social influencer pays.

    Disclaimer: This is not a legal advice and should not be relied upon. Please seek appropriate legal advisors.

  17. This one reason why I even pay to self-park. I would have also tried to leverage a few million hotel points out of them, which essentially cost them far less than what points are worth. Hotel customer service should jump in to make it right for you. Last, what hotel was it, so I know not to ever stay there.

  18. I would find a used car of the same make and model and mileage and insist that the settlement cover replacement value. That way you are not out anything but some inconvenience. Insurers will cover your replacement value. Don’t accept less. You probably aren’t entitled to more. fwiw I am a lawyer

  19. Why in the hell would someone not capable of driving a manual try and maneuver their way around a parking garage in one? Simple solution would have been to explain that the valet had left for the day and guided him to drive his own car to the valet spot. Knock some $ off his folio for the parking and apologize for the inconvenience. This should be common sense stuff.

  20. If it were me, and I’m in Massachusetts so the laws might be different, I’d have gone through my own insurance company and let them deal with the hotel. Massachusetts is a no fault state so with a non owner driving the car there would be no insurance penalty and no deductible to pay. I don’t know if it would get you into a better situation as far as reimbursement, but they want to stop paying for the rental ASAP so they pay claims quickly. They’ve got lawyers to handle dealing with other companies.

  21. Sorry about the big hassle.
    1. If your vehicle was in exceptional shape demand that you be compensated for that. If you can show that it’s worth more than average blue book your entitled to more money. If you don’t demand it you won’t get it.
    2. If you paid sales tax on your vehicle, you are owed the sales tax on it was worth at the time of the accident.

  22. Eskimo – Neither Fox nor CNN will be remotely interested in this.

    People threatening media coverage when it’s beyond obvious there will be none just dig themselves into a hole. “BREAKING NEWS! Virtually unknown blogger’s husband’s car was crashed and the settlement offer isn’t quite as generous as they would want!”

  23. As others have stated, you should’ve (and still should) contact your own insurance.

    Your difficulties aside, this is an interesting post. I always get nervous handing a valet my keys and wondered what would happen if they damaged the car. Please keep us updated on what happens.

  24. My suggestion is to assess the retail value of your car by looking for comparable approved used examples from the Subaru website and print them off so you can give evidence of value incase the hotel’s insurer tries to low ball you (which is likely if they are anything like they are in the UK)

    Hope that this all works out for you in the end.

  25. There is some excellent advice above. As a licensed attorney and a mediator who deals with insurance companies on an almost daily basis, I can tell you that an insurance company – especially one representing the adverse party – is not going to be your ally in this, despite anything they tell you. Their job is to indemnify their insured and get out of the situation for as little money as possible. Your own insurance company may be slightly easier to work with, but not significantly so, because they know that they’ll be taking this to intercompany subrogation – a process run by insurance companies.

    My best advice (and I’ll throw in the lawyer’s disclaimer here: this is not legal advice and there is no attorney-client relationship created by this post) is that you contact a lawyer in the state where the vehicle was damaged, as an attorney from your home state may not be able to handle this. I know, for example, that Nevada often tries to prosecute California lawyers who try to handle a matter for their California clients who were injured (to person or property) in Las Vegas or Reno.

    It sounds like your damages are at least $10,000, and maybe more. Spend a couple hundred bucks for a 30 minute consult with an experienced attorney. If you don’t know an attorney in that geographical area, contact the local bar association for that area, as most will have referral services. There are even attorneys who will offer a free initial phone consultation.

    Good luck.

  26. I’ve learned that you should always consult an attorney and go from there. Note that I don’t mean always sue but just see what my options are. Often the advice is free. And often a letter from an attorney gets things moving.

    Asking for advice on a blog isn’t the solution.

  27. @ Eskimo:

    “Use the blogger card to meet demands + pain + suffering and sign NDA.”

    That is inane. Pain and suffering because of a wrecked car with no personal injury at all? Its just a car. Steph should not count on it. Nor should she think that an insurance company offering blue book value plus 30 days rental is going to spark outrage that she can play up as a “social influencer”.

    @NealZ

    “It sounds like your damages are at least $10,000, and maybe more.” Maybe. What we do not know is what has been offered. If that is actually fair market value (not replacement cost) plus 30 days of rental, I do not know that engaging an attorney will yield results. Rather, the carrier might, and only might, throw in a small amount for generalized aggravation and inconvenience.

    Steph is as vexxed as other similarly situated people would be – assuming she is being offered $8000 for what might be a six year old car (IDK the details), she does not want to go out and buy a $8000 used car. She and her husband may have tolerated the Subaru’s age because they “knew” the car. And in their mind, no $8000 used car is a fair replacement.

    But the fact that they need another $10,000 to get a two year old “new(ish)” car d. oes not mean they are entitled to such a windfall. It sucks – they were content with, in my hypothetical, an $8000 car and had internalized the idea that it was older. And all of this is getting imposed on them and they are being forced to make a major acquisition not on their, but someone else’s schedule.

  28. Its incomprehensible that you did not just call your own insurance company. Get paid ASAP and let them recover the loss from the hotel. They will often even get your deductible back for you.

  29. I had a similar experience in San Diego about ten years ago when a valet crashed my car in a structure and the damage was $4500 to a new car (like with paper tags – that new). I dealt only with my insurance company, emailed the police report and got a settlement check rather quickly. I was not compensated financially for my time and hassle, unfortunately, even though I asked for a modest amount. I was never happy with the repair job and ended up selling the car about five years ago and buying a new one. I ended up paying more to get rid of that car sooner than planned but sometimes you have to soldier on and hope for better luck in the future. I’m not sure an attorney, given the insurance laws in California, could have done any better for me. I definitely avoid valet parking whenever possible these days. BTW, the crashed car was a Lexus with automatic transmission and I never quite understood how the guy managed to crash my car. The police report only said that the driver “lost control.”

  30. I think the best thing to do is just not give your car to the valet. The only cars I’m usually ever taking to hotels are rentals anyways. And I think that adds a whole lot more complexity to the situation if they crashed your rental car. In some cities nicer hotels only have valet for parking. I really wish they would just have self parking at some of those properties.

  31. Definitely speak to the general manager of the property and ask for compensation for the time and hardship, for the disruption of your stay and for having to go through this. A check and a check and hotel points would be warranted. Escalate this to the chain if you are not satisfied.

  32. Most drivers would be ok with a call from the hotel front desk saying “our driver isn’t too familiar with manual transmission, can you help us park your car?”

    Some cars are not replaceable. If you have a 2018 BMW 3 series with a manual, you better take care of it because the 2019 models do not come with a manual, not even in Germany, at least the gasoline engined cars.

    Some people go through their insurance, which would collect from the hotel. However, it may be counted as an “at fault” collision and result in higher rates.

  33. It never hurts to speak to an attorney. There may be a consumer protection act that even covers attorney fees in whatever state this is! Pretty much any competent attorney will give a free half hour consult. And if they are giving you a free 30 day rental-isn’t half that time gone already? I don’t think they gave you much time at all if they haven’t come back with the value yet. It took me over a month to replace my car when mine got totalled between recovery from my injuries, Christmas holidays, and work! And yes, I think you are entitled to more! Come on-a parking valet who can’t drive a stick shift? If he can’t drive it, he should have looked at it and said I don’t know how to drive a stick!

  34. @Callum
    @jfkscott

    Do not underestimate social influencers. Kylie Jenner tanked Snapchat by $13 Billion. Platform never recovered since.

    Now Steph is no Kardashian doesn’t mean she doesn’t have followers or support from other influencers, hello @Lucky.

    Will a global hotel chain risk few thousand over this, they probably shouldn’t. Get Steph to sign the NDA and throw in few million points to make everyone happy.

    Oh and don’t go too far like another Stephanie aka Stormy Daniels.

    Disclaimer: This is not a legal advice and should not be relied upon. Please seek appropriate legal advisors. Investors should be cautious about any and all stock recommendations and should consider the source of any advice on stock selection.

  35. I have some expertise with this…

    First, I am extremely hesitant to use a valet parking service, because I know what goes on.

    Second, I would NEVER let a valet park a manual transmission car. So few of them have the skill.

    Third, it seems you are making excellent progress – because the usual tactic is to stall and dodge a claim. It is looking like they will pay-up. So, keeping the hotel details confidential is a good and fair move.

    I would go for more concessions though. Document all hassles and costs. Build your case. Then tell them to make it right. Here are some of my thoughts about this whole thing:

    http://www.realvaletcontrol.com/valet-parking-blog/2015/1/5/what-to-do-when-valet-damages-your-car

  36. I was a Valet manager at a hotel. Manual transmissions are rare(maybe 3%). Thankfully, I never had to deal with a totalled car from a guest.

    You should call the hotel/ whichever manager you’ve been in contact the most and explain you’re situation, if they refuse to help you, request for the GM to give you a call. Given the damage, they should compensate you more.

  37. I have a very simple question. Looking at the photo, how is that car a write- off? It looks like front bumper bar damage and that’s out. The wheels aren’t turned inn which indicates no axle damage. I don’t get it.

  38. I’ve owned 14 cars. Not one an automatic. Every one a manual. I have never let a valet park my car. Ever.

  39. Not sure why you tried to chase after the hotels insurance. Just should have called your own and let them duke it out with the hotel’s coverage provider.
    Afterall, you are paying insurance for them to represent you exactly in such situations.

  40. Nice report! Good luck!
    Hear you have everything you need for a REAL car. Dont go for the low class cars in america.
    The new car will be:
    1: Volvo XC60 T8
    2: Volvo XC60 D4
    3: Mercedes 220 Benz C D 4M AMG
    4: There is no need for a car if you cant find any of them.

  41. A similar experience on a minor scale. Our Hawaiian hotel had a parking garage that did not allow self parking. I handed over the rental car keys and was given a standard numbered receipt. The next day when the car was retrieved it had a small but obvious dent on the passenger door. My complaints were ignored and the hotel’s staff just pointed out that my receipt had a bold disclaimer stating that they had no responsibility for damages.

    I phoned the police, but they did nothing except fill out an accident report form. And I later wasted half a day going to the police department to get my official copy.

    When I returned the rental car I expected my credit card insurance to cover the damage cost, but found out that since I was in the USA that coverage was secondary and I needed to go through my personal insurance. The claim was covered quickly although if I hadn’t bothered it get an official police report it may not have been paid so easily.

  42. Thinking if a LDW would cover this? Or wait, isnt that a great idea for a excursion on what credit cards have primary coverage and some referral links?!?!

  43. If that happened to me, I might slip up and give him a friendly “tap to his Cabbage,” compliments of my fist. Then ask questions later. lol

  44. From the picture, I’m really surprised the car was totaled! Wouldn’t think a new front end would be that expensive, but what do I know. Bummer though.

  45. I’ve found that anytime someone causes an accident that damages my car, I am the one who will end up getting screwed in the end. They lie. They cheat. They just disappear. The last time, someone ran a yield sign and hit the side of my car. He had a license and insurance card, but he refused to cooperate with his insurance company, which means they wash their hands of the whole process and walk away without a care in the world. Heck, they probably gave him a break on his next premium for saving them so much money!

  46. You have no obligation to accept the amount the insurance company offers. This is the case regardless of how the car was damaged. But how to determine the right amount? That’s not always easy, but given you are clearly not at fault in this instance you have a lot going for you.

    A good way to determine what constitutes a fair settlement is to imagine the conclusion an impartial party would come to. For example, a judge.

    On the one hand they probably wouldn’t want you to grossly benefit from the hotels misfortune but on balance their sentiment would likely be you shouldn’t suffer. At a minimum I’d suggest an amount of money to purchase an equivalent car plus reasonable compensations for the time you’ve spent and will need to spend as a result of the hotel not training their staff properly (they shouldn’t be attempting to drive a car if they don’t know how) would be in order.

    Frankly I think it’s likely that a small claims judge would feel the hotel’s actions were egregious given they could have caused injury or death so they might very well be inclined to send a message by giving you a judgement for a new car.

    If it was me I’d submit a letter to the hotel explaining you had no intentions of buying a new car because the one you had was just fine, that the time, the cost to locate a similar used car in equally good condition is not insignificant and that therefore you propose that you purchase a new one. Allow a modest reasonable allowance for the benefit you derive from getting a new car and ask them to pay the remainder.

    Fully expect them to refuse. Sue them in small claims court. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose by doing so. The insurance company cannot insist that you waive your right to sue as a condition of paying your claim. If they try, refuse. They’ll back down. If they don’t that will not bode well for them in court.

  47. Going forward, I suggest everyone do what have done for years. Specifically hotels that have valet only parking, which are very common in downtowns and high traffic tourist areas. I say I have a government issue weapon and equipment in the car, they reply with: sir, we all passed background checks and we get to park cop cars all the time, my reply is, u don’t have the proper security clearance to come within a city block from my car, back off or I will have u arrested for attempting to acquire gov tech equipment by deception, 13 years in federal prison.
    Do not break eye contact and don’t crack a smile, hold ur position and ask for the manager and LITERALLY CALL 911 and get them on site, they do not have the authority to investigate (this last incident happened only once and it was the biggest bluff I ever did and worked).
    Cops will be on ur side in this and order them to let u do what u want.

  48. I worked at the Four Seasons in Boston years ago. One night, one of the valets drove a car through a plate glass window and into the elevator lobby. Fortunately, no one was injured. Within an hour, the car was gone, the lobby was fully restored, the missing window was boarded up and pipe and drape was installed to shield the plywood from view. By the next morning, the pipe and drape was gone, the missing window was now a wall, wallpapered and painted to match the surrounding areas.

  49. @Jo145 and SuperT~ The insurance assessor will make a judgement call as to which will be most cost effective; repair or write-off. Being an older model new parts may be difficult or expensive to source, hence the write-off. The insurer will recoup some money from a damaged vehicle auction or spare-parts dealer.

  50. I am kind of in shock that an employee who knows he cannot drive manual took it upon himself to park a car with a manual transmission, and shocked that the hotel allowed this. (Surely they should have checked that he knew how to drive a manual before they let him moonlight as a valet?) I absolutely think the hotel should compensate you in some way for your hassle.

    In any case, curious to see how this turns out.

  51. You should get replacement value from hotel and they can get comped by insurance. I’ve done it, it’s about a week to get the check from their business office.

  52. First, I would never give my car to any valet. I park myself. Second, biggest mistake is to give a manual car to a valet. Seriously, what was the chance the guy knew how to drive a manual car?

  53. My car is a manual. I do not allow anyone to drive it except the one guy at the car wash who also drives six-figure supercars through, and the dealer, and even there once they called me over the PA back to service because the one lot rat moving cars around couldn’t drive a manual (at a BMW shop, really?). Tales like yours are why I NEVER use valet parking unless it’s a rental.

  54. This happened to me at Le Meridien Juan Les Pins many years ago. It was not as bad as in the picture, and I could still use the car, but bad enough.

    The hotel manager told me they have contacted the car rental company, and everything is taken care of. Well, when I brought the car back a few days later they had no information about the incident, and told me I should have brought the car back earlier.

    In the end I (or, my company) ended up paying for it. We have good insurance, so it was more about the principle than the money.

    In addition, before the driver told me what had happened, I tipped him…

  55. @Flying Badger

    The bad news is those newer ‘supercars’ now come with automatic. My first time on a Huracan was WTF. Still glad 911 hasn’t abandon it yet. So don’t use a six figure car as a benchmark anymore.

    One bad thing in USA is even those entry level tiny cars comes with automatic, unlike their EU counterparts. The only way to drive or practice these days is the more expensive $25k+ ‘performance’ cars. I’m quite sure most valets are not into cars enough to sink money in these cars.

    So sad

  56. Hi everyone,

    Thanks for the helpful (and entertaining!) comments. While we’re probably too far along to pursue some of the avenues suggested, I do appreciate the push to seek additional compensation from the hotel, and I’ll be sure to update with the final outcome.

    Serious question for those of you who work in insurance: We’ve avoided going through our own carrier because we don’t want to run the risk of our rates going up. Even though we’re not at fault, it does feel like a risk. How likely is that to happen in a case like this? (Full disclosure – we’re probably too far along to involve our own insurance at this point but I’m still curious).

  57. @Eskimo – “Steph is no Kardashian”…might be my favorite comment of all time on here (and I plan to keep it that way 😉 ) Thanks for looking out!

  58. @derek – Wow, I’m genuinely impressed with your car knowledge! Nailed it! (But the hotel guess is incorrect, sorry.)

  59. Waiting around is your own fault. Have your insurance company deal with theirs. No sympathy for the self-imposed hassles.

  60. You’re wrong about going through your own insurance. I can’t emphasize enough how this is a misapprehension on your part.

  61. I currently live In California where insurance companies cannot raise your rates following a no fault accident – it’s illegal. This is not, however, the case in many states where I’ve lived in the past.

  62. Steph- call your insurance now. You don’t just pay them when you or your vehicle cause something- it’s also for when something happens to your vehicle.

    Someone backed into my car, I called my agent, and not once did I talk the other party’s insurance. They’re gonna try and give you as little as possible, and your insurer has trained professionals (including lawyers) that will help you get a lot further than even you calling the hotel, their franchise company, or their chain.

  63. Also, it’s not too late. You’re being wronged here, and their insurance should have gotten your insurances Information from the git go. You should have never heard from them beyond them getting your insurers information.

  64. The path of least frustration would be to call the insurance company immediately. Delaying calling the insurance company creates issues in the long run.

    I drive a manual and hesitate to allows others to drive the vehicle as manual transmissions are not consistent from one car to another.

    Individuals driving a manual on a day to day basis have issues with automatic transmissions also. Every hit the clutch only to realize the car has no clutch but in turn hitting the brake. The clutch takes quite a bit more force than the brake.

  65. Being a lawyer myself, give Saul a call! All Jokes aside, go through your insurance and chew their ass. Good luck

  66. Can you fill me in on the end results of this please? An incident similar to yours is currently making my life a mess right now except I endured horrible treatment. 5 days ago the valet driver at a casino I frequent totaled my vehicle. After the incident, the casinos supervisor on duty asked me to show her my players card so that she can see what color it was. Not realizing that she was trying to determine how she would handle the situation depending on my player status (how much money I spend there) I handed it to her. She handed it right back and said the casino is not responsible for your car and it’s quite hot outside today so she would be heading inside. Crazy huh? To make things worse, no one ever arranged me a ride home and I live an hour and a half away!! For two hours I wandered around the casino asking staff for help with a ride or info on what happens next? I don’t know how these things work… unfortunately no one was of any assistance to me and pretty much acted as though I was bothering them. I have never been treated so poorly. I was so humiliated that I was crying my eyes out for the next hour, sitting by my totaled vehicle as I waited for my brother to travel from our home town to get me. This happened Saturday morning and it is now Wednesday. No one contacted me from the valet company until Monday morning and I still have not heard back from the casino! I was just put into a rental car Tuesday and still really have no idea what’s going on with my car. I’m wondering if I have a lawsuit? For both the valet company and the casino? What did you end up settling for? What am I entitled to?

  67. Dude! Cut your losses move on! Your not the only Joe this has happen to, you will recover it’s a car. Lifes good!

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