Nationally, auto insurer GEICO controls almost 14% of the auto insurance market, and in the most recent quarter, it earned over $700 million in profit. GEICO did not achieve these results by overpaying claims: The five largest car insurers in Illinois issue over 62% of the insurance policies in the state, and GEICO is the fourth-largest.
That said, although it does not have the same checkered history as other insurance companies that routinely deny valid claims, GEICO can still present a challenge following a car accident.
How Car Insurance Works in Illinois
Liability insurance is an agreement between a policyholder and an insurer that states that the insurer will pay for any losses up to the policy limits caused by the policyholder.
Illinois requires all automobile owners to carry liability insurance policies, which must include the following:
- $25,000 bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage for the injury or death of one person
- $50,000 BIL coverage for the injury or death of two or more people
- $20,000 property damage liability (PDL) coverage for another person’s property
BIL and PDL coverage pay third parties that suffer losses in a crash caused by the insured driver, but they do not pay the policyholder. For example, if you crash and suffer a broken wrist, your BIL insurance will not pay your medical bills; instead, you must file a claim against the other driver’s BIL coverage.
Winning a liability insurance claim requires showing that the other driver acted negligently and caused your crash, but auto policies typically do not cover intentional acts.
As such, a policy would cover a rear-end collision in which the other driver hit you while texting, but it might not cover one in which the other driver was trying to escape from the police and intentionally rammed you out of the way.
Tips For Insurance Claims Against GEICO
After an accident, you and the other driver will exchange insurance information. The police accident report will also include the other driver’s insurance information. If the other driver caused the crash, you will use their information to file a claim with their insurer.
GEICO has relatively good ratings for handling claims. According to J.D. Power & Associates, the company rates above average for claims satisfaction.
Still, even with high customer satisfaction ratings, insurance companies still have a financial incentive to delay or deny claims, as they do not make money from premiums. Instead, they take portions of those premiums and set them aside in reserve to pay claims. They then take the rest of the premiums and invest them.
When the insurer pays a claim, the reserve balance drops, and the company replaces that money with that invested elsewhere. As a result, the company cannot profit from the money it paid as a claim. Instead, the claim costs the company, thus affecting its bottom line.
Turn Down a Recorded Statement
After you file a claim, GEICO will assign a claims adjuster to your case, but it’s important to understand that the adjuster does not work for you. Instead, they protect GEICO and its profitability against invalid claims. Their job is to ensure that GEICO pays the absolute minimum for its claims.
The claims adjuster will ask you for a recorded statement during a recorded phone call, where the adjuster will ask you questions about your injuries and the crash.
The adjuster will use the recorded statement to dig up evidence that they (or GEICO) can use to deny your claim. Even simply answering the question, “How are you today?” with “I’m fine” could result in a claim denial because such an answer can imply you were not seriously injured or injured at all.
As is clear, recorded statements can create unfixable problems with your claim, so when a GEICO agent asks you for one, you should turn it down.
They might try to pressure you by suggesting they need it or that your claim will get settled quicker with a statement, but remember: They already have everything needed, including the crash reports and medical records, to handle your claim without a statement.
Document Your Claim Thoroughly
For GEICO to pay your claim, you must prove that the negligence of one of its policyholders caused your accident. That means the at-fault driver failed to exercise reasonable care while driving, either by violating traffic laws or acting carelessly.
Your personal injury lawyer will assemble everything needed to prove your case and submit the documentation — including your crash report, medical records, and witness statements, if applicable — with your insurance claim.
A common tactic by GEICO is to delay your claim by asking for more documents. If you have a fully documented claim, you deprive them of that stall tactic, but more importantly, by fully documenting your claim, your risk of a claim denial will go down.
Adjusters typically deny claims for the following reasons:
- Their policyholder did not cause the crash
- The crash did not cause your injuries
- Your treatment was not necessary based on your injuries
By including all the documents to cut off these possible grounds for denial, you increase your odds that GEICO will accept your claim.
Expect a Low Offer
Even when a claims adjuster accepts a claim, they will still try to save as much of GEICO’s money as possible. Instead of offering a fair settlement, they will often make a low offer for two reasons:
First, accident victims, experiencing frustration with the claim process and desperation for money, sometimes accept these low offers out of a desire not to spend the time fighting for more. Second, many claimants do not understand the value of their claims and thus accept the amount offered.
Insurance settlements are always subject to negotiation, so when an insurer offers a low settlement, you can present facts and legal arguments to push for more.
Using an Illinois Personal Injury Lawyer For Your GEICO Insurance Claim
Lawyers can provide valuable services when dealing with GEICO. An injury lawyer will evaluate your claim so you know when you have received a fair offer. They will act as the point of contact with the claims adjuster so they do not twist your words, and they will negotiate for a better settlement.
If you have run into problems with your GEICO claim or want to avoid any potential issues, speak to a personal injury attorney.