How to Handle a Geico Claim After a Car Accident
GEICO is the third-largest auto insurer in Texas. It collects about $2.34 billion in premiums from Texans and controls about 10% of Texas’s automobile insurance market.
After a car accident, there are fairly good odds that you will handle your claim through GEICO. Even if you did not buy auto insurance from GEICO, the other driver might have.
GEICO has a below-average record for customer satisfaction in its claim process. GEICO has invested a lot of resources into making its claim process easier, but it still has a financial interest in denying and reducing as many claims as possible.
Here is some information about the best ways to handle a GEICO claim after a car accident and how an injury lawyer can help to make things easier.
When To File a Claim With GEICO
Texas uses an at-fault insurance system. This means the driver who caused the accident has legal liability for the injuries and property damage that result from an accident.
Texas requires all drivers to purchase liability insurance. The minimum bodily injury insurance policy sold in Texas covers $30,000 per person for injuries and is capped at $60,000 per accident.
Many people choose to buy a greater amount of liability insurance than the minimum legal requirement. If a driver causes a multi-vehicle accident or an accident results in severe trauma — such as brain injuries — the damages might exceed the minimum coverage. The injured parties could sue the at-fault driver. The at-fault driver would need to pay any damages that exceeded the insurance policy limits.
If you were involved in a car accident, you would file a claim with GEICO under two circumstances:
The At-Fault Driver’s Policy Was Issued By GEICO
If GEICO insured the at-fault driver, you could file a claim with GEICO. GEICO would assign the claim to an adjuster to determine fault. If GEICO’s insured was found to have caused the accident, the claim adjuster would make an offer to settle the claim.
Your Policy Was Issued By GEICO
If GEICO issued your insurance policy, you could file a claim with GEICO. Again, GEICO would assign the claim to an adjuster. If GEICO determined that you caused the accident, it would pay your claim as well as the claims of any third parties that were injured in the accident.
If GEICO determined that someone else caused the accident, GEICO would work with the other driver’s insurer to try to get you paid. But ultimately, responsibility for making sure the at-fault driver’s insurance paid a fair settlement would fall on you.
How To File a Claim With GEICO
GEICO invested in an online claim system that allows you to file a claim anywhere you have Internet access. You can use GEICO’s mobile app or a web browser to access the online claim reporting tool.
This tool will ask for basic information after an accident. You should include all of the information you have, including the names, insurance companies, and policy numbers for the other drivers involved in the accident.
After Filing a Claim With GEICO
The information you provide will enable GEICO to open a file and assign the case to a claim adjuster. The claim adjuster will likely require additional information to investigate the claim. You or your lawyer may receive a letter asking for police reports and medical records. You may also receive a phone call from the claim adjuster in which they request a recorded statement and an inspection of your vehicle.
GEICO’s online claim tool allows you to check on the status of your claim. The account you create to file the claim will also give you access to status updates along the way.
When the claim adjuster completes the investigation, they must issue a written decision along with an explanation for the decision.
Texas law sets strict deadlines for resolving claims. Here’s what you should know:
- GEICO has 15 days from the time you file your claim to ask for more information.
- After you provide the information requested, GEICO has 15 days to approve or deny your claim.
- GEICO can extend the deadline to reach a decision by 45 days if it notifies you of the extension and explains why it is necessary.
- When GEICO approves a claim, it must pay you within five days.
These deadlines do not mean you will receive an insurance check 35 to 80 days after filing a claim. In many cases, GEICO will simply deny your claim or make an offer far below your actual damages right before the deadline.
Hints for Filing a Claim With GEICO
GEICO has two concerns when investigating a claim:
- Saving their company money
- Fulfilling their obligations under Texas insurance law and the policy
In many cases, these two concerns conflict with each other. In other cases, GEICO can fulfill both, but only by using trickery, negotiating tactics, and pressure.
A claim adjuster may use a recorded statement to twist your words into a reason for denying your claim. Even an innocent “I’m fine” when you greet the adjuster on the phone could allow the adjuster to assert that you exaggerated your injuries.
As a result, you should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer to serve as the point of contact with GEICO during the claim process. This will insulate you from the claim adjuster and allow your lawyer to screen all of your interactions with GEICO for your legal protection.
You should also keep meticulous records of your medical and pharmacy bills. Claim adjusters can use shoddy recordkeeping as a reason to deny or reduce a claim.
Use your personal injury lawyer’s vast experience when dealing with GEICO and learn from the mistakes of others. An injury lawyer will often have dozens or even hundreds of prior claims they’ve negotiated with GEICO and can help you to obtain a fair settlement offer.
Fighting a Claim With GEICO
Keep in mind that most claims with GEICO will require negotiation before you receive a fair settlement offer. If an offer from GEICO seems too low, consider contacting a lawyer to help evaluate your claim. You may have overestimated the value of your claim, but GEICO may have underestimated your injuries and expenses.
If GEICO does not make you a fair settlement offer, your lawyer can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. GEICO would then be required to defend the lawsuit under its insurance contract. If liability is clear, GEICO will avoid going to trial by settling the case.