Do you have questions or concerns about GEICO claims for your accident? In this article, we’ll lay out the process of a GEICO claim, how and what to do and answer some of the most common questions we hear from our clients.
If you’ve been hurt in an accident and the other person is/was insured by GEICO, speak with our personal injury lawyers today to discuss your options and how to negotiate the claim process with GEICO.
The GEICO insurance company is headquartered in Maryland and is one of the most popular insurance companies in the state and throughout the country. The Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) is the second largest insurer in the country.
Our Maryland personal injury car accident lawyers help many clients make GEICO claims. Here are some questions and answers about dealing with the insurer based in Chevy Chase, Md.
In past years, GEICO had a reputation for being a reasonable insurance company to deal with. The company claims it makes it easy for its policyholders. The person you talk to on the phone will usually be very friendly and helpful. On its website, GEICO states it cannot pretend that the car insurance claims process is fun, but it promises to “make it as hassle-free as possible.” GEICO says many claims are settled within 48 hours.
However, hassle-free is not synonymous with fair. Most insurance companies have a business model that vigorously seeks to settle claims for as little as possible. GEICO is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, a multinational conglomerate led by Warren Buffett, a billionaire whose personal worth is listed at $80.6 billion.
Like Buffett, GEICO is good at making money. The insurance company’s first priority is its bottom line rather than the needs of claimants hurt in accidents. GEICO makes its big profits by selling insurance coverage to consumers and then ensuring the amount of premiums paid exceeds the amount the company pays out in settlements.
In 2016, Berkshire Hathaway’s annual report indicated that GEICO grew its written premium revenue 12.5 percent to $26.3 billion, and its earned premium rose 12.2 percent. The insurer’s ability to curtail GEICO claims is an important part of its success.
GEICO spends approximately $1 billion a year on advertising which goes to highlight the massive profits it is making. The company touts that by spending 15 minutes switching to GEICO, you can save 15 percent or more.
It’s a sales pitch that sounds great if you are taking out a new policy. So too does accident forgiveness that means your insurance rate won’t go up as a result of your first at-fault accident. Although this is good news if you caused a property damage accident, people who make GEICO claims in Maryland for serious injuries, quickly realize GEICO is a tough company to deal with.
GEICO was founded in 1936 during the Great Depression. The Government Employees Insurance Company was created by the husband and wife team of Leo and Lillian Goodwin. The company started on a small scale by marketing directly to carefully targeted customer groups in Texas.
GEICO was initially targeted at federal employees and specific categories of enlisted military officers. Lillian Goodwin marketed the company powerfully to this audience. In the space of a year, GEICO had written 3,700 policies and hired 12 staff members.
GEICO expanded in 1948 when Lorimer Davidson, an investment banker and a close friend of the Goodwins, identified new investment opportunities. The new investors included Benjamin Graham, an academic at Columbia University in New York who later found Warren Buffett in his class and persuaded him to take an interest in the company.
GEICO has a network of claims centers in locations including New Jersey, Texas, Maryland, Florida and Washington State. Almost all of the claims filed in Maryland are processed in the Fredericksburg, Virginia office.
If your policy was written in Maryland, all payments should be sent to:
GEICO Remittance Center
One GEICO Plaza
Bethesda, MD 20810-0001
However, correspondence over GEICO claims should be sent to.
Government Employees Insurance Company
ATTN: Region 1 Return Policy Work
PO BOX 9500
Fredericksburg, VA 22403-9500.
You can fax GEICO at (516)-213-1484 but the insurance company points out one fax number does not fit all inquiries. You should contact an agent first or email the correct person. The insurer provides more details about GEICO’s faxing policy on its website. Put your claim number on all correspondence.
The GEICO claims portal allows policyholders to manage their case online and view its progress. By accessing the GEICO claims portal, you are able to.
The GEICO claims app allows policyholders to deal with the insurance company on the move on their cellphones or other smart devices. GEICO mobile boasts many additional features, allowing customers to pay bills, review GEICO claims, access insurance cards, call for roadside assistance or even arrange for a Lyft ride.
As is the case with any big insurance company, GEICO customer service hours are 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Traffic accidents don’t respect holidays or late hours. Statistically, more accidents occur over holidays like Independence Day and Memorial Day.
Once a GEICO claim is filed, it is assigned to a claims adjuster. The claims adjuster gathers all of the information from the accident and follows a standardized approach to settling your claim.
The claims adjuster will plug all of the relevant information into a computer program or research your injury in a claims book that provides rigid guidelines.
The adjuster may include personal aspects of your injury and the pain and suffering you experienced when determining the amount he or she offers to settle your claim.
If, for example, you broke your leg in a car accident, the adjuster will research the injury code related to that particular break based on the insurance industry standards.
The claims adjuster will offer you the corresponding sum to settle your claim. This approach can fail to take into account many of the problems you will likely have experienced or experience in the future.
The settlement offer may be insufficient to cover your surgery and future surgeries. If you have missed work because of the injury, this should be reflected in your settlement amount.
It’s important to take a strong bargaining position against GEICO’s claims adjusters or to hire a personal injury lawyer to receive the compensation you deserve for your loss.
GEICO outlines its approach to claims on its website. The insurer points out it:
GEICO does not give much leeway to its adjusters before a lawsuit is filed. The claims rep will make you an offer which is a percentage of the maximum figure the adjuster will be permitted to give you for your injuries.
The gap between the first offer and the settlement authority and between the amount allowed for a settlement and the real value of your case increases with the seriousness of your injuries.
In other words, if the real value of a case is $15,000, the adjuster might offer $6,000 with the authority to go up to $10,000. However, if the actual value of the case is $400,000, the GEICO insurer might offer $145,000 with the authority to go to $160,000. The gap in this case even if the maximum amount permitted by the adjuster is reached is $240,000. It’s a significant amount that would make a huge difference in covering your injuries. For this reason, it’s very important to hire an experienced Maryland personal injury lawyer in cases involving substantial injuries.
Once a lawsuit is filed, GEICO may take your claim more seriously since there is the possibility of a higher verdict amount at trial.
Typically, your original offer will be upped. This is the case with most insurance companies and GEICO is no exception.
Usually, a new adjuster will be brought in. The new adjuster will reevaluate your claim and possible offer a higher value for your case.
The settlement offer is still likely to be less than the true value of your case but may be considerably higher than the pre-lawsuit offer.
At this stage, the adjuster will make more detailed considerations including how much money a claimant could eventually be awarded by a jury.
The insurance adjuster will consider the chances of you winning at trial and how much a jury might eventually award you. If, for example, the accident victim has a case that is potentially worth $1 million, but his or her chances are slim of winning a jury trial, the adjuster is not going to offer a $1 million settlement.
The extent to which GEICO will fight your case will depend on the strength of your claim. The liability issue is particularly important. If the insurance company believes you were liable or partly liable for your accident, a case is more likely to go all the way to trial.
Maryland has a strict contributory negligence law that holds a party cannot claim damages for injuries if he or she was even one percent to blame. The controversial contributory negligence rule was upheld in the Maryland Court of Appeals in 2013.
If the dispute over a GEICO claim is about how much money you are owed rather than liability itself, GEICO seldom allows these cases to go all the way to trial in Maryland. An acceptable figure may be reached via a series of claims and counterclaims.
If a verdict exceeds the limit of a policy, the decision over whether or not to give the claimant more than the policy limit is at the discretion of the insurance company. Although GEICO has honored jury decisions, there have also been cases in which a verdict was reduced because it was above GEICO’s capped uninsured motorist coverage or another type of coverage.
Although GEICO spends big on TV advertising and has a reputation for helpful customer service reps, GEICO claims reviews are far from glowing.
One reviewer on the Consumer Affairs portal described how she was hit by a truck and the $25,000 settlement was insufficient to deal with her severe whiplash and totaled truck from the accident.
A reviewer from New Jersey recommended people injured in auto accidents should hire the toughest personal injury lawyer. She wrote:
“It is mind-boggling how much money this company pays for advertising and then cheats someone that is injured from a fair settlement. If you ever have to settle a claim with this company I recommend you hire the toughest lawyer you can find, it really seems that they are only interested in advertising.”
If you believe a claim has been unfairly denied or an insurer has acted in an unethical way, you can contact the Maryland Insurance Administration and file a complaint.
The role of the Maryland Insurance Administration is to protect consumers in the state from illegal insurance practices by ensuring that insurance companies act in accordance with Maryland’s insurance laws. The administration handles insurance inquiries or complaints relating to life, health, property and casualty insurance.
A Maryland injury lawyer can also advise you on whether a GEICO claim has been correctly refused and file a lawsuit if you have a valid case.
If are hurt in car accident in a state that does not have no-fault insurance, you are typically responsible for paying your medical bills. However, some drivers in states like Maryland have medical payment insurance coverage. This is known as “med pay” coverage.
Med pay coverage will cover the medical bills of drivers or passengers involved in a car accident with the insured person, up to the insured’s med pay policy limits. Med pay limits are usually under $10,000. As soon as your bills exceed the med pay policy limits, you will usually responsible for paying them. Med pay coverage is not always required but you should inquire about it when taking out an auto insurance policy.
Typically, if a driver incurs medical bills that would be covered under med pay, the driver pays for them up front, and their auto insurance company reimburses them dollar for dollar. There are no deductibles or copays that you have to meet.
You will pay more every month to have med pay on your policy. According to ValuePenguin, the average additional monthly cost for med pay under a GEICO policy is about $27.52 for up to $10,000 in coverage.
In our experience, GEICO may get tough from the get-go by offering claimants a lot less than their case is worth in an attempt to settle early.
A Maryland personal injury lawyer won’t be able to tell you exactly what your case is worth but the attorney will be able to alert you when the insurance company is making a low ball offer. The attorney will have a realistic notion of how much compensation you should be entitled to for your injuries.
The case for hiring a personal injury lawyer becomes more powerful when you are suffering from your injuries.
If you handle a case alone with an insurance adjuster, there are many traps you can fall into such as providing a recorded statement.
Once you have accepted an offer, you are not able to return to the negotiating table.
Determining what to do after an auto accident often requires legal research, interpretation and knowledge beyond the means of most car accident victims. It often makes sense to consult a personal injury lawyer to help you through this process.
The Law Offices of Randolph Rice can help you with every step of the car accident process and will take on the fight with GEICO or another insurance company. Our Maryland lawyers will help you in every step of your claim. Call our top rated Maryland injury attorneys as soon as possible at (410) 288-2900 to schedule a free appointment to discuss your case.