Unlike a certain actress, I just don’t get drunk. That’s not because I have a liver of steel or the alcohol tolerance of a giant. I just can’t afford to drink enough to get drunk on. But for those of you who can, you probably know about drive-home valet services.
That’s when you drive your car out, party and then realise you’re too drunk to drive home. So instead of cabbing home and then leaving your car there, you decide to hire someone to drive you and your car home.
Drive-home valet services are a thing? How much does it cost?
There are actually many companies already providing this drive-home valet service, and as a result of competition, the market rate seems to be $38 per ride, with additional charges thrown in if it is outside the valet’s working hours or if there are multiple stops, for example. Seems like a relatively low price, doesn’t it? The truth is, you could probably save even more if you just find someone who isn’t drunk to drive you home. Easiest $30 they’ve ever made.
But before you drive out this weekend to party, here are 4 things you should know about hiring a valet to drive you home if you insist on driving even though you know you’re going to drink:
1. Your insurance policy may not cover your supercar when a valet is behind the wheel
In general, most car insurance policies for highly valuable cars only provide coverage if the named drivers are behind the wheel. That is, coverage is extended only to the drivers named in the policy, and not just someone authorised to drive the vehicle, such as a valet. So if your supercar gets scratched on the way home because your valet driver misjudged the turning radius of your vehicle? You’re going to have to cover the cost all by yourself.
For the rest of us mere mortals with more mass-market cars, on the other hand, we can breathe a little easier. Car insurance policies for our vehicles will usually cover any damage incurred when an authorised driver is behind the wheel. However, this brings us to my second point.
2. Your insurance policy may not cover valet drivers if your policy doesn’t cover unnamed drivers
Before you hire a valet driver, check if your policy covers unnamed drivers! When you bought your car insurance and were going for a cheaper premium, you may have picked a version of the policy that does not cover unnamed drivers. This means that even though you authorised the valet driver to drive you home, your insurance policy doesn’t cover them, and the insurance company isn’t going to pay a cent if something happens.
Even when your policy covers the valet driver, because they are not a named driver on the policy, there will usually be some kind of penalty. This can come in the form of higher excess. Excess refers to the maximum amount you will still need to pay, before the insurance company pays the rest. And you can be sure your valet driver isn’t going to pay your excess, even if you’re sure they were responsible for the incident.
3. Technically, valet drivers and their companies are often not liable for any accident
It sounds crazy, but most valet companies are quite upfront by saying they are not liable for any damages to your car. Even when every shred of evidence points to the driver’s negligence, you can still expect a long-drawn out claims process with the valet service company designed to deter you from seeking compensation.
The fact is, companies providing valet services know they’re at an advantage – ultimately, the bigger risk is you still choosing to drive when drunk. Not only could you get caught drink driving by the traffic police and cost you your license, but you may also get into a serious accident and put other people’s lives at risk. Knowing this, the valet service company offers you a seemingly cheap solution at only $38. But only if the worst doesn’t happen.
4. Valet drivers are ultimately not regulated by any laws… yet
At the risk of sounding like I’m repeating myself, when you hire a valet driver, you are essentially taking a lot of risks. Even though a company may claim to be reputable, it’s anyone’s guess how stringent their screening process for valet drivers is. A quick check on job listing sites like Gumtree show that they are constantly on the lookout for new drivers, and there’s often no requirement for valet driving experience (apart from obviously needing a driving license).
In light of the recent news that private car service drivers under Uber and Grab will soon have to apply for a new type of vocational license, the question needs to be asked – should valet drivers be regulated and required to obtain similar licenses for the work they do? This is something worth keeping an eye on, and we’ll definitely be watching out for this too, so follow us on Facebook in the meantime.
Have you ever hired a valet driver after a night of drinking? Share your experiences with us.