Matthew Minner | January 3, 2021 | Personal Injury
GEICO has existed for almost 85 years. Through that time, GEICO has grown to become the second-largest auto insurer in the U.S. It collects nearly $35 billion in premiums every year.
But GEICO would not have achieved success if it paid those premiums back to customers injured in car accidents. In fact, according to J.D. Power and Associates, GEICO only earns an average rating for handling claims.
Here are six secrets about GEICO’s insurance claim process and some of GEICO’s tactics when processing claims.
1. Claims Adjusters Often Want to Talk Soon After the Accident
Every insurer, including GEICO, requires you to report an accident as quickly as possible. During this initial call, you will probably not speak to a claims adjuster. Instead, you will just provide the bare facts of what happened.
Soon after this, you will receive a call from a claims adjuster. On the one hand, this quick action is good customer service. The sooner you talk to a claims adjuster, the quicker GEICO can process your claim.
However, this call also has a potentially shady side. Claims adjusters want to talk to you before you fully understand the extent of your injuries.
- A headache from a bicycle accident might be diagnosed as whiplash, nerve damage, or traumatic brain injury after your call.
- Pain might indicate a broken bone or torn ligaments or tendons after talking to the claims adjuster.
- A doctor might diagnose insomnia after a pedestrian accident as post-traumatic stress disorder weeks or months after the accident.
The risk of talking to a claims adjuster too quickly is that the claims adjuster might say you have faked or exaggerated your injuries if your injuries get worse. Waiting to speak to the claims adjuster will ensure you have a full understanding of your injuries.
2. You Can Wait to Give a Recorded Statement – Despite What Adjusters Might Say to the Contrary
GEICO will often push to obtain a recorded statement from you. Although it will slow down the claim processing, you do not need to stick to GEICO’s schedule for giving a statement.
Some reasons to delay are:
Trauma can affect your memory of the events. Waiting can help you provide a more accurate description of the accident.
Fear, pain, and anxiety can place you in a vulnerable state. Taking time to recover from your injuries can help you think more clearly when you speak to an insurance adjuster.
GEICO can use anything in your recorded statement to deny or reduce your claim. Having a lawyer represent you can help you avoid a damaging statement.
As mentioned above, waiting to give a recorded statement can also provide you with time to seek medical attention for your injuries. This, combined with the other benefits, should help you resist the pressure of quickly giving a recorded statement.
3. GEICO Does Not Work In Your Interest
Even though you are a paying customer, GEICO claims adjusters work for GEICO, not you. GEICO has a financial interest in denying or reducing claims. When you speak to a claims adjuster, you must view any advice with skepticism.
Some of the “advice” you should not take from a claims adjuster includes:
- Medical advice: Claims adjusters cannot give medical advice. A claim adjuster also cannot recommend against your seeing a doctor.
- Legal advice: Claims adjusters cannot provide legal advice. GEICO also cannot stop you from hiring legal representation
- Factual advice: Claims adjusters might try to use leading questions to coach you into giving a version of the facts that help GEICO, not you.
When you speak to a claims adjuster, stay alert for any advice that seems to stray into areas other than insurance. If you are concerned about the direction of the conversation, ask to complete the recorded statement at a later time.
4. GEICO Will Probably Catch You If You Lie
Claims adjusters receive information from many sources. They are not reliant on your statement. They will know if your statement is inconsistent with other information.
Some of the other sources of information GEICO will pursue include:
- Police reports
- Witness statements
- Medical records
- Independent damage estimates
- Photos of the accident scene
All of this information will be used to verify (or dispute) your version of the accident. If your version does not match up with the other information, the adjuster can deny or reduce your claim.
5. Claims Adjusters are Experienced Negotiators
The claims adjuster’s job is to protect the insurance company’s interests by only paying legitimate claims. This means that an insurance adjuster must be convinced of:
- The facts of the accident
- The existence and severity of your injuries
- The necessity of your medical treatment
- The value of your lost wages
- The cost to repair or replace your vehicle
The insurance adjuster might seize on any ambiguities in these facts to deny or reduce your claim.
More importantly, once GEICO understands your claim, it has a starting point, not an ending point, for the negotiations. Although every claim is unique, the initial settlement offer will often be much less than the documented medical expenses. For example, if your medical bills total $15,000, the initial offer might be $5,000 or less.
Claims adjusters make low initial offers so they have more room to negotiate. For example, if the initial offer is $3,000 and the total medical bills are $20,000, they have $17,000 to negotiate with while still saving GEICO money.
6. Most Claims Settle, But Require Time
Overall, 95% of personal injury claims settle rather than going to a jury. Your GEICO claims adjuster might promise a quick settlement. But GEICO knows that you are desperate for money and uses this against you.
Claims adjusters know you need money for medical bills and may be unable to work. They also know that you need to repair your vehicle. As a result, claims adjusters may slow-walk your claim processing to pressure you into accepting a low settlement.
Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
Lawyers can overcome GEICO’s tactics. Claims adjusters avoid using negotiating tricks with lawyers. Lawyers can also match the negotiating skill of claims adjusters to ensure you receive the compensation your case deserves.