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maximizing a geico insurance claim

Secrets to Maximize a GEICO Insurance Claim in Texas

How to Maximize a GEICO Insurance Claim

Whether you were struck by a driver insured with GEICO making a “third party claim” or a GEICO insured making a “first party claim,” you’ll want to know how to maximize a claim with GEICO. We wrote this article to help you maximize your claim, avoid common pitfalls, and understand what to expect from GEICO during the claims process.

Insider Insights and a Unique Perspective

One of the partners at our firm worked as an insurance adjuster before law school, so we know how insurance companies deal with claims. Of course, we have seen how claims are handled on this side as personal injury lawyers. These experiences lend themselves to the unique perspective and insider insights we share in this article.

Seeking Medical Treatment

If you were in an accident of any significance, you should get checked out by a medical professional. If there is an emergency medical response, don’t refuse to get checked out. You may not know that you’re injured or how badly you are injured immediately after an accident. We all know what cuts and breaks look like, but we don’t know what internal injuries look like or when to expect the pain from those injuries to set in. Because adrenaline is pumping immediately after an accident, you may not feel the pain right after an accident. The longer you wait for an evaluation, the more likely an insurance company will say the injury and pain is unrelated to the accident. The last thing you want is to have back pain in a week, and wait another week till things are so bad you can’t move. When you get to a medical provider, the insurance company will have some basis to say they can’t relate the pain to the accident.

As you seek medical treatment, keeping a log of who you saw and when is important. We will work to get the records, compile them, and make them understandable and persuasive. We also recommend that you keep a journal of how you feel each day and the difficult things for you to accomplish. The reality is the human mind is built to persevere and not dwell on the difficult times we got through. As a result, it may be much harder to articulate just how bad things were in three or six months unless you have written it down.

Filing an Accident Report or Blue Form in Texas

The police won’t always respond to an accident in Texas. Generally, unless someone is injured or a vehicle is completely disabled in a major thoroughfare, the police do not come out. That doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) have an accident report documenting what happened. Here’s what you need to do when the police don’t come out to the scene of an accident.

You will want to go down to the local police department and fill out a “Blue Form” (officially called the CR-2 form). This is a self-documented accident report that provides a formal method to document the details of the accident, including the time, location, and circumstances of the crash, as well as information about the vehicles, drivers, and any damage incurred. This documentation is crucial as it serves as an official record of the incident.

When filing an insurance claim, having a Blue Form can be invaluable. Insurance companies often require official documentation of an accident to process a claim. The Blue Form serves as proof that the accident occurred and provides the insurer with detailed information needed to assess the claim. Without this form or a police report, it might be more challenging to prove the validity of your claim, potentially leading to delays or denials.

Speaking to a Lawyer

After seeking immediate medical attention, you should speak to a lawyer if you were injured in an accident. You may need to speak to an attorney sooner if you run into problems getting medical care. While you will be provided with emergency medical care if the situation warrants it, you may find going to a doctor or hospital after the fact, without an emergent issue, will result in you being turned away if you are trying to use your own medical coverage. If you’ve ever wondered why medical providers and hospitals ask if your injuries are related to an accident, it is because they don’t want to get involved with having a liability insurance provider cover the bill.

The good news is that we know local medical providers and doctors who will treat you if you’ve been in an accident and aren’t afraid of waiting for liability insurance to cover the costs. Give us a call, and we will connect you with one.

Reporting the Accident to GEICO

You can initiate a claim:

Online: File your claim through GEICO’s website. This is often the fastest and most convenient way to start your claim, as it allows you to provide all the necessary information about the accident and receive immediate confirmation.

By Phone: Call GEICO 24 hours a day at 800-841-3000. This option is ideal for those who prefer personal interaction or need immediate assistance and guidance from a representative.

It is important to report the accident as soon as possible, as delays can sometimes complicate the claims process or affect the outcome of your claim.

Recorded Statements with GEICO

You should speak to a lawyer before you give any statements to an insurance company.

First-Party Recorded Statements with GEICO

If you are filing a claim with your insurance company, you must provide a statement as a condition of your policy. When you give that statement, though, it might be important to discuss with your attorney.

Third-Party Recorded Statements with GEICO

If GEICO is not your insurance provider, it’s advisable to refrain from giving a recorded statement to their adjusters without consulting an attorney first. Know that as a third-party, meaning someone who is not insured with the insurer the claim is filed with, you don’t have to give a recorded statement. Even if you were to give a statement, be sure you include your lawyer. You don’t want anything you say misinterpreted to limit liability or the loss amount they pay.

GEICO’s Claim Adjustment Process

Once you’ve reported your accident, a GEICO adjuster will be assigned to your claim. The adjuster’s role is to assess the damage, review any injury claims, and determine the amount GEICO will pay. They will likely ask for the aforementioned recorded statement, documentation of the accident, loss, and injuries.

Based on this information, a GEICO adjuster will make a liability decision.

Liability Percentages Directly Affect Payouts

In Texas, which follows a modified comparative fault system, a GEICO adjuster’s liability determination can significantly impact the payout for a claim. Here are the key liability decisions a GEICO adjuster could make and how they affect payouts:

The claimant is 0% at fault: If the GEICO adjuster determines the claimant is not at fault, the claimant can recover 100% of their damages from the at-fault party’s insurance policy.

The claimant is 1-50% at fault: Under Texas’s modified comparative fault rule, if the claimant is 50% or less at fault, they can still recover damages from the other party, but their payout will be reduced proportionally to their percentage of fault. For example, if the claimant is 30% at fault, they can only recover 70% of their damages.

The claimant is 51% or more at fault: If the GEICO adjuster determines the claimant is 51% or more at fault, the claimant cannot recover any damages from the other party’s insurance. They would have to rely on their own policy for coverage, if applicable.

Denial of claim: The GEICO adjuster could also deny the claim entirely if they determine the claimant was fully at fault or if there are other grounds for denial, such as policy exclusions or lack of coverage.

Negotiating Claims with GEICO

Before a lawsuit is ever filed, there is often a negotiation period between the claimant (or their attorney) and GEICO. Understanding how GEICO negotiates can help you prepare.

Great attorneys know that there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to insurance adjusters. It’s true that some adjusters are always going to be difficult to deal with. It is also true that other adjusters are going to be as reasonable as they can be if 1) you know how to approach them and 2) you know the information that will give them the ability to give you what you want.

Here’s how one experienced adjuster explained the job:

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We often find that asking nicely, firmly, and with incredible documentation gets exactly the result we want – particularly when they know that if “nice” doesn’t work, we won’t hesitate to file a lawsuit. For our firm, this means claims have a better chance of success in the short-term as well as in the long term. If you have a property-damage-only claim and you’re not hiring a lawyer, there’s no reason you can’t put these insights to work for yourself.
Remember, the more documentation you have, the more likely your request is going to be seen as reasonable.

Challenges with Settlement Offers

GEICO’s initial settlement offers may be lower than expected for several reasons.

Issuing Checks for Less Than Repair Value

First, particularly on property damage claims, adjusters will issue checks for less than the value of repairs. They know that some individuals will pocket the check, not make the repairs, and therefore not to get a “supplement check” for the additional costs and repairs of the actual repair.

Underestimating Injuries

Second, GEICO adjusters may underestimate or disagree with the injuries, particularly the long-term impact of injuries.

Failing to Appreciate Injuries

Third, GEICO adjusters make not understand the true nature of injuries. A rear end accident involving a vehicle equipped with a tow hitch is a perfect example of when a GEICO adjuster might not understand the extent of injuries and be tempted to say, “The claimed injuries far exceed any damage to the vehicle.”

A rear-end collision with a vehicle equipped with a trailer hitch can result in minimal visible damage to the struck vehicle, but it can significantly increase the risk of injuries to the occupants. Here’s how:

When a vehicle without a trailer hitch is rear-ended, the impact force is distributed through the rear bumper and the vehicle’s undercarriage, dissipating some of the energy before reaching the occupants. However, if the struck vehicle has a trailer hitch installed, the protruding metal hitch acts as a solid, non-deformable object that directly transfers the impact force through the vehicle’s frame. This concentrated force transfer bypasses the crumple zones and energy-absorbing structures designed to protect occupants, resulting in a more rigid “crash pulse” that is directly transmitted to the occupants. Consequently, the occupants experience a higher magnitude of force, increasing the risk of whiplash and other injuries by approximately 22% compared to vehicles without hitches. Furthermore, since the majority of the impact force is carried through the vehicle’s frame, there may be little to no visible damage to the struck vehicle’s body panels or rear bumper. This lack of apparent damage can be misleading, as it may not accurately reflect the severity of the forces experienced by the occupants.

Depreciation and Actual Cash Value

For property damage, insurers often compensate based on the actual cash value (ACV) rather than the replacement cost. ACV considers depreciation, which can significantly lower the payout, particularly for older items or vehicles, meaning the claimant may not receive enough to cover the replacement cost.

Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost Value

Insurers generally pay the cost to repair the vehicle up to its ACV. If the repair cost exceeds the vehicle’s value before the accident, the vehicle is generally deemed a total loss, and the payment will be the ACV, not the cost to replace the vehicle. The claimant has the right to negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurer. If the initial compensation offer based on ACV does not cover the necessary expenses to replace or repair the damaged item to its pre-loss condition, the claimant can present arguments and evidence supporting the need for a higher amount. However, this is often limited by the terms of the at-fault party’s policy.

If you are not satisfied with the recovery amount from the at-fault party’s insurance, you may claim under your own insurance (if you have relevant coverage like collision for auto or replacement cost coverage for home/property). Your insurer might then choose to pursue subrogation to recover the amount paid from the at-fault party’s insurer.

Using Preferred Vendors

Insurers often have agreements with preferred vendors or contractors for repairs. These vendors might charge less than others, which can be beneficial for cost control but may result in lower quality repairs. Claimants are sometimes pressured to use these vendors instead of choosing ones that might offer higher quality at a higher price.

Offering Quick Settlements

Insurers might offer a quick, lump-sum settlement soon after an incident. These offers can be appealing to claimants eager to resolve the matter but might not fully compensate for all damages, especially those that manifest or are realized later, such as long-term medical issues or structural damages not initially apparent.

Surveillance and Social Media Monitoring

In cases involving personal injuries, some insurers conduct surveillance or monitor the claimant’s social media profiles to find evidence that may contradict the claimed injuries. This can be used to argue that the injury is not as severe as claimed, thereby justifying a lower payout.

Legal Considerations in GEICO Claims

As you start to understand the many ways a GEICO adjuster can affect your payout, based on the assignment of liability, disputing damages and injuries, you understand how important it is to have a professional on your side fighting for a fair outcome if you have been injured. Our attorneys have the experience and track record required to get exceptional results.

The tenor also changes if the lawyer files suit against GEICO. This process does more than change the dynamics of the claim. It affects the obligations of GEICO to turn over information. The insurer also has to look at the cost of defending a lawsuit, which has at least some impact on their willingness to be reasonable. Finally, this brings in a fresh set of eyes. Perhaps you are dealing with an adjuster who was entrenched in their position. Once the claim gets to litigation, the litigation department may reach a more favorable conclusion than the claims department reached.

Call Us if You’ve Been Injured by a GEICO-Insured Driver

If you’ve been involved in a car accident with a GEICO insured, it’s crucial to understand the complexities of filing and negotiating a claim. At Varghese Summersett, we bring experience and a deep understanding of insurance dynamics. Our team is well-versed in the tactics used by insurance companies like GEICO, and we’re prepared to fight for the compensation you deserve.

We encourage you not to navigate this challenging time alone. The nuances of insurance claims, especially with large companies, can be overwhelming and intricate. By partnering with us, you ensure your rights are protected, and your claims are effectively handled. We provide the support and legal expertise necessary to secure a favorable outcome.

Remember, the initial steps you take after an accident can significantly impact the outcome of your claim. Don’t hesitate to contact us at Varghese Summersett for a consultation. Let us take the burden off your shoulders so you can focus on your recovery while we handle the legal complexities. Call us today to discuss how we can help you move forward.

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