GEICO (“Government Employees Insurance Company”) is the second-largest consumer auto insurer with over 15 million insured drivers. In Maryland, GEICO is actually the biggest auto insurance carrier. Our Baltimore accident attorneys have handled thousands of claims with GEICO over the years. In this post, we will go over the top insider secrets for how to deal effectively with GEICO on accident claims.
GEICO SECRET #1: Be Wary of GEICO Claims Adjusters
If you are handling an accident claim with GEICO, your main point of contact will be a GEICO claims adjuster. The claims adjuster is the GEICO representative responsible for processing and administering your claim.
One of the adjuster’s primary responsibilities is to investigate the facts of your claim. This means you will end up spending a lot of time talking to the GEICO adjuster and answering questions about the accident. Claims adjusters are often very personable, and it may even seem like they are trying to help you or on your side.
Our top insider tip is to be wary of the GEICO claims adjuster and be very careful about what you say to the adjuster about the accident. No matter how amicable they may seem when you talk to them, the claims adjuster is looking out for GEICO, not for you. They are looking for ways to deny your claim or limit the amount GEICO pays on your claim. Everything you say to them can potentially be used against you.
If you want your claim processed, you will have to provide certain basic facts about yourself and the accident to the GEICO claims adjuster. You can’t simply refuse to talk to them at all (unless you hire a lawyer to handle your claim). Beyond the basic facts of your claim, however, you should avoid telling the adjuster anything else. There are certain subjects you should NEVER discuss with the GEICO claims adjuster, including:
- Never take any blame or accept responsibility for causing the accident.
- Don’t tell the adjuster anything upfront about your medical diagnosis or treatment
- Do not give the adjuster a total of your medical expenses or lost income
- Avoid any discussion of how your injuries have impacted your life (e.g., limited recreational activities, chronic pain, etc.)
Your accident lawyer can address all of these subjects in detail and provide evidence to support them later on in the claim process. If you talk about these topics to the GEICO adjuster upfront, it might come back to bite you later on.
For example, let’s say you tell the GEICO adjuster that you only missed give days of work, but then at your next doctor’s visit, you find out that you need surgery and will be missing two months of work. The GEICO adjuster will try to limit your claim to the 5 days that you originally told them.
GEICO SECRET #2: Don’t Agree to a Recorded Statement
At some point early on in the claim process, GEICO will ask you to provide an official statement and answer questions that are recorded on video or audio. Claimants frequently assume that this is an obligation and agree to it with little thought. The truth, however, is that claimants have no legal obligation to provide a recorded statement.
Giving a recorded statement can only hurt your claim and does not benefit you. Not one bit. Agreeing to provide a recorded statement about the accident just gives GEICO ammunition that they will use against you. The adjuster will pick out bits and pieces of your recorded statement and cite them as “evidence” to deny or reduce your claim.
GEICO claims adjusters are often very aggressive in their pursuit of a recorded statement. They might insist that you have a legal obligation to provide a recorded statement. This is absolutely NOT true. There is no law (in any state) that obligates claimants in an auto accident to provide a recorded statement unless the case is in litigation (i.e., you file a lawsuit against the other driver).
GEICO SECRET #3: Your Medical Bills May Get Ignored
As part of the GEICO claim process, you will be asked to submit copies of all bills for medical treatment related to injuries suffered in the accident. The reason for this is that you are legally entitled to compensation for the cost of medical expenses related to the accident. Most people quite reasonably assume that if they submit 2 months of medical bills and the charges on the bills add up to $5,000, GEICO will simply reimburse them for the full $5,000.
This is not what happens. GEICO (along with many other insurance companies) does not simply agree to cover the invoiced amount on the medical bill. In fact, they will usually ignore the amount charged by the provider and only agree to cover what they consider “usual and customary charges” for the service.
What this means is that GEICO will not only challenge the amount that the medical provider billed for the treatment, but they will also question whether the treatment was medically necessary. For example, let’s say you submit medical bills for 10 physical therapy sessions at a cost of $500 per session. GEICO may come back and say that you only needed 6 sessions and that they will only cover the “customary rate” of $250 per session.
A lot of claimants assume that there is nothing they can really do about this and end up accepting GEICO’s reduced offer for medical expenses. The reality, however, is that GEICO is not entitled to force this on you. If you hire an accident lawyer and take your claim to court you can force GEICO to cover the full amount of your ACTUAL medical expenses.
GEICO SECRET #4: Don’t Undervalue Your Claim
A lot of people end up undervaluing their accident claims because they simply add up their medical bills and the car repair invoice and assume that is the total amount of their claim. If you do this, you are significantly undervaluing your claim because you are legally entitled to more than just your medical expenses and property damage.
When you are injured in an auto accident, you are legally entitled to compensation for the following types of damages:
- Past Medical Expenses: this is one most people get, and it’s usually covered by your medical bills.
- Future Medical Expenses: most people don’t even realize that they are entitled to compensation for the cost of future medical treatment that you will reasonably require in the future. This can be a big-ticket item in many claims, but if you only include your existing medical bills it will get left out of the claim.
- Lost Income: if you are not able to work for a period of time as a result of injuries you suffered in the car accident, you are legally entitled to compensation for your lost income or lost wages. This includes past and future lost wages. This is another item of damages that people often leave out when handling their own claims.
- Pain & Suffering: in addition to the cost of medical treatment, tort law entitles accident victims to receive financial compensation for pain and mental suffering caused by their physical injuries. In some cases, this can be a very large component of the total damages. Calculating pain and suffering damages can be tricky and somewhat subjective, but insurance companies usually calculate pain & suffering (to be about 1/3 of the total medical expenses.
If you leave any of these elements of damages out of your initial claim or demand don’t expect GEICO’s claim adjuster to mention anything. If you are handling your own claim, the adjuster is probably expecting you to leave out certain things like future medical expenses or pain & suffering.
GEICO SECRET #5: Never Accept the First Settlement Offer
GEICO claims adjusters are notorious for making lowball first settlement offers on pretty much all accident claims. The first settlement offer you get from a GEICO adjuster is usually extremely low, sometimes half of what the true value of the claim is. The adjusters realize that some claimants are desperate to get paid on their claims as soon as possible. They dangle lowball initial settlement offers out like bait in the hopes that a certain percentage of claimants will go for it.
If you accept GEICO’s first offer to settle your claim you will be leaving money on the table. The only way to get anything close to full and fair value from GEICO in a claim settlement is to reject their initial offer and threaten them with litigation. After the first settlement offer is rejected, GEICO always comes back with a second settlement offer that is significantly higher.
- How to offload your GEICO claim on a qualified car accident lawyer
GEICO SECRET #6: Don’t Be Afraid to File a Lawsuit
The only effective way to force GEICO to make a fair settlement offer on your claim is to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Filing a legal action against the insurance company’s driver in an auto accident case always increases the pressure on the adjuster. This is particularly true, however, when dealing with GEICO on an accident claim.
If you reject GEICO’s lowball first settlement offer and file a lawsuit against their insured driver, the GEICO adjuster will rapidly change their position on the claim. The case typically gets reassigned to a new GEICO claims adjuster. The new adjuster almost always comes in and makes a second, slightly better settlement offer on your claim. If you continue to litigate the case and get closer to trial you can expect an even better settlement offer.