Seven Things GEICO Doesn’t Want You to Know When Negotiating a Car Accident Settlement
Brian White | October 24, 2020 | Auto Accidents
If you watch television, you are likely familiar with the advertisements for Government Employees Insurance Company, which is better known as GEICO. GEICO, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., is the second-largest provider of automobile insurance in the United States. In 2019, GEICO wrote over $34 million in direct premiums for private passenger automobile insurance.
Millions of drivers have GEICO as their car insurance provider, including drivers throughout Texas. There is a good chance that you might deal with a GEICO claims representative if you are ever involved in an automobile accident.
Seven Secrets of GEICO Car Accident Claims
Knowing some of the secrets of how GEICO handles car accident claims can help you increase your chance of recovering a fair statement for your car accident claim. Below are seven secrets you need to know if you file an accident claim with GEICO.
1. Never Answer Questions or Provide a Statement Without an Attorney
A claims adjuster or other GEICO representative may contact you within days of your car accident. You might not even be out of the hospital when you receive a call about your accident claim. Do not answer any questions or agree to provide a statement without talking with a car accident lawyer first.
Adjusters and investigators are trained to get you to say specific phrases that could be used against you to deny or undervalue your claim.
For example, the adjuster might be very chatty and ask you how you are doing. Suppose you reply that you are feeling fine or doing okay. In that case, the company might use that statement to allege that you are now exaggerating your injuries to receive a larger settlement amount.
It is best to refer all questions to your lawyer. Telephone calls are almost always recorded, even if you are not informed that your conversation is being recorded. In Texas, only one party has to consent – and that party could be GEICO. An innocent statement that you made because you were polite could harm your claim.
2. Adjusters are Not on Your Side
The claims adjuster may act as if he is your friend. He may tell you that he is fighting to get you the most money possible for your car accident claim. However, the adjuster is working against you to protect GEICO’s best interest.
The adjuster’s job is to deny your insurance claim if possible or to undervalue the insurance claim if he cannot find a justifiable reason to deny the claim. Therefore, you must be careful what you discuss with the claims adjuster.
Again, it is best to refer the adjuster to your personal injury lawyer. However, if you have not hired a lawyer yet, it is best to avoid discussing topics related to:
- What you were doing immediately before the crash and earlier in the day
- How the crash occurred and what you remember
- Your injuries, diagnosis, and treatment
- Expenses you incurred to date, including loss of income and medical bills
- How your injuries have impacted your daily life, including work, activities of daily living, pain levels, and recreational activities
The claims adjuster or another GEICO representative wants to keep you talking for as long as possible. The more you talk, the better chance they have of obtaining information they can use against you.
For instance, the comparative fault laws in Texas state that you cannot recover compensation for a car accident claim if you are over 51 percent at fault for the cause of the crash. If your fault is below 51 percent, your compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.
If the claims adjuster can get you to admit on a recording that you overslept and was running late the day of the crash, GEICO might try to allege you were speeding because you were in a hurry and your speed contributed to the cause of the crash.
It is best if you avoid talking to anyone representing GEICO until you talk with an injury lawyer.
3. GEICO May Reduce the Value of Your Medical Bills
GEICO attempts to reduce the cost of your medical care to lower the value of your accident claim.
Instead of reimbursing you for the actual cost of your medical care and treatment, the company reduces the charges. GEICO claims that your medical bills are not within the usual and customary charges for the treatment you received.
The company hires medical professionals to review itemized bills and lower any charges that the medical professionals deem excessive. It is a tricky way of paying you less than you deserve for your car accident claim.
4. GEICO May Purchase Your Medical Liens
Another tricky way GEICO lowers the value of your injury claim is by purchasing your medical liens. While this act might seem to benefit you, it can lower the amount you receive for your injury claim.
GEICO purchases the medical lien for a discounted price from the hospital or your medical provider. The company uses the lower discounted price as the value of your medical treatment. If you go to trial, the jury only sees the discounted amount, which could make it appear that you were not as seriously injured because your medical bills were low.
This sneaky trick can also lower the value of your pain and suffering damages.
Pain and suffering damages are often based on a multiplier. Your financial damages are a factor in the calculation. Using a lower amount for your medical bills decreases the value of your pain and suffering damages.
5. Do Not Accept the First Settlement Offer from GEICO
GEICO wants you to accept the first offer it makes to settle your car accident claim. First offers are generally much lower than the actual value of your injury claim. The company hopes that you accept the settlement offer before you consult with an accident lawyer.
If you settle your injury claim with GEICO, you cannot demand more money. Even if you realize that you sustained additional injuries or your financial damages are much higher, you cannot sue the company or the driver for more money once you settle the claim.
Always check with a personal injury lawyer before accepting a settlement to ensure GEICO is not cheating you out of thousands of dollars.
6. Your Claim May be Worth More Than You Think
Car accident victims often underestimate the value of their injury claim. GEICO is not going to tell you the value of your claim. If you do not consult an attorney, you might undervalue your claim.
In most cases, you are entitled to compensation for financial losses and non-economic damages. Financial losses include medical bills and loss of income. However, financial losses also include travel expenses, personal care, diminished earning capacity, medical equipment, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
Noneconomic damages are the pain and suffering you experienced because of the accident and your injuries. It also includes scarring, disabilities, permanent impairments, and disfigurement.
7. You Might Need to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit to Receive Fair Compensation
If the company refuses to negotiate in good faith, you might need to file a personal injury lawsuit to protect your right to fair compensation for car accident damages. Like other insurance companies, GEICO may engage in bad faith insurance practices, which could result in a separate cause of action for damages.
A personal injury lawyer evaluates your case and provides advice and guidance about the best way to protect yourself and your family. You have the right to consult with a lawyer before talking to GEICO or accepting a settlement.
Get the facts from a trusted legal advocate for injury victims before deciding how to proceed. It is worth your time to ensure that you are doing what is in your best interest when dealing with GEICO or any other insurance company.