Stephen Hasner | Car Accidents | January 20, 2021
GEICO is the second largest car insurance provider in the United States. They provide insurance for over 17 million drivers, covering a total of more than 28 million vehicles. They also have one of the biggest advertising budgets in the country.
If you have engaged in any media in the past few decades, chances are high that you have seen a GEICO advertisement. Their television commercials feature a wise-talking gecko, funny cavemen, and a camel in an office building reminding you that it’s “hump day.” While their commercials are often hilarious, the tactics they use with claimants are not funny.
Because they are such an enormous corporation, it is likely that you will have to file a claim with GEICO at some point. If you have been injured in a car accident, speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible, and make sure to keep the following secrets in mind when filing a claim with GEICO.
Secret #1 – Do NOT Provide a Recorded Statement
Many insurance providers, including GEICO, will request a statement from you regarding the circumstances of your auto accident. It is important for you to know that you are NOT required to provide them with a statement outside of the context of litigation. Many personal injury attorneys will strongly advise you against providing GEICO with any type of recorded statement.
The goal of an insurance company is to minimize its costs by paying you as little as possible. GEICO will use any misstatement or seemingly harmless comment to try to undermine your case and decrease the amount of financial recovery that you receive.
If you tell the adjuster that you are “doing fine,” you might think that you are just being polite and conversational. However, GEICO might use that statement as evidence that your injuries were not severe and that you do not deserve compensation.
Secret #2 – GEICO May Record Your Phone Calls
It is also important to note that some states, including Georgia, follow one-party consent laws in regards to wiretapping. This means that as long as one of the parties involved in a conversation gives consent, it is legal to record that conversation.
When you are filing a claim with GEICO, the one-party consent law means that they can record your phone calls without obtaining your consent. You should always be very careful about what you say to a GEICO claims adjuster. As we mentioned above, any comment might be used against you. This is especially true when they can legally record your phone calls without telling you.
Some topics that you should refuse to discuss with a GEICO representative include:
- The circumstances of your accident and your actions leading up to the crash
- The medical diagnosis, treatments, or care that you have received
- The cost of your medical bills and expenses
- The amount of work you have missed due to your injuries
- The ways in which your injuries have impacted your daily life–including pain levels, hobbies and recreational activities, mental trauma, and general suffering
When you speak with GEICO, provide only basic contact information. Refuse to answer any questions regarding the specifics of your accident. Speak with an experienced legal professional instead, who can effectively represent your interests and secure the money that you are owed.
Secret #3 – The Cost of Your Medical Bills Might Not Matter
Most claimants assume that when they file a claim with GEICO, the company will examine the costs of their medical care and provide an offer to cover that amount. However, GEICO and other large insurance companies do not operate this way. Many times, they will simply ignore the actual amount of your medical bills.
GEICO contracts with third-party medical professionals to examine the bills of their claimants. These contractors then decide if the claimants’ medical bills represent what they call “usual and customary charges.” Unsurprisingly, GEICO’s medical contractors often conclude that the claimant is owed much less than the amount shown on their actual medical expenses.
This is a deeply unfair practice. GEICO should not be able to determine the appropriate price of your medical treatment…that decision is between you and your healthcare provider. When GEICO uses the standard of usual and customary charges, they cause injury victims to avoid or postpone necessary medical care.
Secret #4 – GEICO’s Justification for Lowball Offers
Large insurance providers like GEICO use many different tactics to avoid paying claimants. One strategy that might not be obvious is the purchase of hospital liens. While this might initially sound beneficial, GEICO is typically able to purchase liens for less than their actual value. They will then use the reduced price of the lien to justify a lower amount of financial compensation for you.
Consider the following example:
- Your medical debt totals $50,000
- GEICO buys the lien on your medical debt for $10,000
- GEICO then claims that the amount they owe you is $10,000
In a case like this, the jury will only be aware of the $10,000 amount and may conclude that your injuries are much less severe than they are in reality. This can decrease the amount of non-economic damages that you receive, including awards for pain and suffering.
Secret #5 – Never Accept the First Offer
It is important to know that GEICO will work incredibly hard to get you to accept their first offer. Accomplished personal injury attorneys will tell you that you should never accept an initial offer from an insurance provider.
The first offer that GEICO makes is typically extremely low. The insurance provider’s goal is to finalize a settlement as quickly and cheaply as possible. If you take GEICO’s first offer, you may later learn that your injuries were more extensive than you first realized. After you have settled, you waive your rights to seek further compensation.
If the bills related to your injury continue to increase after you have accepted their offer, you will be stuck. GEICO adjusters will claim that accepting the company’s first offer is your best option. This is false.
In order to secure the financial compensation that you are rightfully due, speak with a skilled personal injury attorney. Do not let GEICO use these bad faith strategies to undermine your claim and decrease your financial recovery.