It’s a sad reality that this annual winter holiday season—which so many eagerly and joyfully anticipate—is actually riskier than most other times of the year. Everyone is in a hurry, streets are crowded, darkness arrives early, and weather is severe in much of the country.
Parking operators—whether they manage self-parking lots and garages or provide valet-parking services for the hordes of holiday shoppers—are right in the thick of things. Over the many years our ArmorPark program has placed insurance for this industry, we have seen countless claims during this season. Here are just two examples from the many.
Two valet drivers moving cars for attendees of a holiday event drive two high-value vehicles down an alternate route to their parking destination—in torrential rain. One right after the other, they “drown” the cars in high water. Of course, the valet drivers hadn’t known the condition of that route or they wouldn’t have used it, but the flood waters destroyed both vehicles’ engines and interiors—totaling them.
Holiday revelers feeling “merry and bright” walk into the path of cars being driven by parking valets. Injuries result—and so does litigation. Guess whose side the jury took when this went to trial? (Hint: It wasn’t the parking operator’s side.)
Your first duty to your hardworking parking employees is not to wish them joy of the season, but rather to warn them that this could be a tragic holiday for them—and your parking patrons—if they do not take extra care during this time. By placing greater emphasis on safe practices, let the greatest gift you give be your parking patrons’ and your employees’ safety.
In early May 2019, U.S. Risk brought Sera Chalayan on board to join the ArmorPark team as an underwriter. Here’s a brief story of what led Sera to us!
After graduating from university, Sera Chalayan began her career as a banker. She soon transitioned to insurance, first working in wholesale brokerage and then moving to an admitted carrier, where she spent the majority of her early insurance career. During those years, she worked in customer service, account management, human resources, marketing, underwriting, and sales. In addition, she served as president of the Emerging Insurance Professionals’ Orange County chapter and as a member of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s associate board.
Then, during 2016 and 2017, Sera spent 15 months in the Czech Republic earning her MBA. In January 2018 she resumed her insurance career on the retail side as Area Vice President at Gallagher, where her sales focus was on non-profits and parking operators. The way we see it, this was all excellent preparation for her becoming part of U.S. Risk and ArmorPark.
Welcome to ArmorPark, Sera!
A popular worldwide clothing retailer once ran an ad that encouraged us to “fall into the gap.” That tagline got me to thinking recently about gaps in coverage and how they can affect the livelihood and lives of you and your patrons.
Insurance is expensive because—let’s face it—parking operators are in a tough industry that has significant risks. It’s not just the possible theft of a high-value vehicle (and we’ve paid our share of big losses on some pretty rare cars). It’s the risk of human safety that makes parking and valet operators unpopular with insurance companies. But allowing coverage to lapse—or worse yet, going uninsured—can be a major life-changer for you and your assets, your clients, and parking patrons.
In my 25-plus years of specializing in insurance for the parking industry, I’ve seen more than one parking entity decide to non-renew their coverage while shopping around for better pricing. Ironically, some of the most serious claims I’ve seen have occurred during the time the parking client “fell into the gap.”
In just one example, waiting patrons were hit by a valet-driven car days after the parking operator chose to non-renew their coverage because of a 20% premium increase. The packet of attorneys went after the parking operator’s client (a popular restaurant), the parking patron (the car’s owner), and the parking operator’s employee (the valet) because the parking operator wasn’t insured at the time of the accident. When this parking operator was finally able to find an insurer that would cover them, the premium was four times the cost of the renewal premium they were initially offered—and had rejected.
My advice is to consider insurance to be as important as placing your infant into a car seat rather than holding her on your lap while driving. That’s a no-brainer, right? Well, so is insurance coverage!
DON’T fall into the gap!
Connie Fox, ArmorPark program underwriter