Valet parking services are convenient especially when you’re headed to a mall or a hotel during peak hours, but when we decided to use valet parking service we should be fully aware of the risks that we are about to take. Essentially, you are handing over your car keys to a complete stranger.

An engineer named FJ Huang experienced a shock when he went to the valet parking at an upmarket shopping mall to collect his Mercedes-Benz E300 Bluetec Hybrid after having his dinner. He had handed it over to the valet two and a half hours earlier and went about his business. During that time, both the car and its keys had gone missing.

Upon reviewing CCTV footage, it was observed that one of the valet employees spoke to a man in a white shirt. The man then entered Huang’s car and drove off from the valet parking area.

Every time we hand our car over to a valet, there is a possibility that this can happen. When a valet takes your car keys and hands you a ticket, there is no supplementary form of verification that exists, such as noting down the person’s IC and checking it upon collection if it matches. As long as you bring the valet the ticket and pay the charges, you can just drive off with the car.

This collection process seems rather insecure considering we’re handling something that could cost hundreds of thousands of ringgit in value. Huang’s E300 Bluetec Hybrid costs RM349k. Perhaps valet parking operators should think about tweaking their process flow a little?

What we all need to realise and consider before we use valet parking is that if your car is stolen in such a manner, your loss will not be covered under your motor insurance. This is because you willingly handed over your car key to a third party. You will have to go after the shopping mall or valet parking service provider and try to claim compensation from their public liability insurance.

While we’re on the topic, for those who have drivers, if your driver runs away with your car, motor insurance will not compensate you either. To protect yourself against losses, you’ll have to buy a Fidelity Guarantee insurance for the car’s value. Not all insurance companies will offer you this even if you want to buy a policy, so it’s best to try to get it from an insurer that you buy a few policies from.