Below you will learn tips and secrets GEICO adjusters don’t want you to know in order to maximize your bodily injury settlement, including answers to frequently asked questions regarding GEICO car accident settlements.
Overview of GEICO Claims
GEICO, part of the holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, is the second largest property and casualty insurance company in the U.S (by direct premiums written).
With GEICO’s unique business model, by initially only insuring the lowest risk drivers and operating without insurance agents, it has proved to be Warren Buffet’s best investment.
GEICO was once a better insurance company to deal with as an auto accident victim. Their adjusters had more settlement authority, and their average settlements were much higher.
However, over the last 25 years, GEICO, and many other insurance companies, have streamlined their claims process. They’ve adopted the use of claims software to calculate “reasonable and customary” medical bills as well as placing a dollar figure on the pain and suffering element of a bodily injury claim. The results: severely undervalued settlement offers and a host of future motor vehicle accident litigation.
So, how can you avoid your claim from being one of GEICO’s many severely undervalued claims or have your case subject to several years of potential litigation in the congested court dockets?
The following 10 tips will help you avoid being just another undervalued claim in the endless stack of claims on a GEICO claims adjuster desk:
1. Refuse the Recorded Statement
If GEICO is the at-fault party’s insurance company, you should NEVER give them a recorded statement. You certainly are not required to give one. Don’t let them make you think it’s required for your claim to be valid.
Many times, GEICO adjusters will say—without a recorded statement they will not be able to determine liability, which will leave you in a waiting game. If they are taking their time with liability because their insured isn’t cooperating, it’s time to call a lawyer.
Pro Tip: You can always run your property damage through your own carrier’s collision coverage or uninsured property damage coverage (if hit by an uninsured driver or a victim of a hit-and-run). Your own carrier will usually treat you better and will try to recover your deductible from the at-fault party’s insurance company.
2. Get Medical Treatment Immediately
There are three very important reasons to get medical treatment immediately after your accident:
Maximize Your Damages
“Damages” are what determine your case value. In most cases, the largest part of an auto accident injury case is the amount of your medical bills.
So, it’s crucial that you receive reasonable and necessary medical treatment, as well as document and present these bills to the insurance company.
Go to the emergency room or urgent care if you feel like you need to. Also, if you feel it’s necessary, go by ambulance to the emergency room. This may be even better for your case.
Of course, don’t go only to fraudulently run up your medical bills. Insurance companies are not stupid. They are very good at knowing whether you’re faking your injuries.
Legitimize Your Injuries
Doesn’t it make sense that if someone is injured they want to see a doctor as soon as possible? Sure, it does. And the opposite is also true.
Seeing a doctor immediately will legitimize your injury before the GEICO adjuster.
Of course, there are valid reasons why auto accident victims do not immediately see a doctor after their accident (e.g., no health insurance, don’t immediately feel pain, etc.). These need to be carefully explained to the adjuster.
Mitigate Your Damages
The law places a burden on the injured party to avoid making their damages even worse by neglecting their injuries.
A defendant is not responsible for damages that could have been avoided by the injured party.
This means GEICO can use the fact that you didn’t immediately seek medical treatment and made your condition worse against you.
3. Don’t Let the GEICO Adjuster Minimize Your Injuries
GEICO adjusters are skilled at minimizing your injuries. They’ll ask you questions in a way to have you second guess your injuries and categorize them as only soft tissue injuries that will heal in a few weeks.
A very common way to minimize your injuries is when the adjuster tells the auto accident victim that they will only pay for a few weeks of treatment and that they are on your own after that. Don’t believe them! If you are really injured, you should be getting reasonable and necessary medical treatment until you have reached maximum medical improvement. Adjusters are not doctors. They can’t diagnose your condition.
4. Don’t Agree to Anything Without First Consulting with a Lawyer
I know this may sound self-interested but if you don’t hire a car accident lawyer from the start of your claim, you will almost certainly be putting yourself at a disadvantage in your case.
There are studies that show auto accident victims that are represented by a lawyer get 40% more of a settlement than without one.
In our own experience when clients tried to initially handle their cases on their own then hire us to take over, we see the offers previously extended by GEICO are significantly less than what we were able to ultimately settled these cases for.
It just makes economic sense even considering the fact that your personal injury lawyer will receive a portion of your settlement as attorney’s fees. Also, keep in mind: personal injury lawyers don’t charge any fees up front. So, you’ll never need to pay out of your own pocket for representation. It’s a win-win.
5. Don’t Ever Agree to GEICO’s First Offer
GEICO’s first offer is never their best offer and will most likely be a lowball offer. You should always negotiate your case with the GEICO adjuster. Start off high. Don’t paint yourself into a corner by starting the negotiations off too low.
For example, if you want to settle your bodily injury claim for $20,000, don’t start your demand at $25,000. You should start well above your target settlement goal.
Also, don’t bid against yourself—let the adjuster come up on their offer first before you extend another counteroffer.
There should be at least four to five rounds of offers before GEICO reaches their top settlement authority. If you are not happy with their top offer—contact a lawyer.
6. You May Need to File a Lawsuit
This tip piggybacks on the consult-an-attorney tip above. You may not be able to get fair value for your bodily injury claim unless you’re able to put substantial pressure, via a lawsuit, against the GEICO insured.
Of course, you will most definitely need a lawyer if you choose to sue the GEICO insured responsible for causing your accident. Handling a motor vehicle accident lawsuit on your own is not recommended.
7. Don’t Let GEICO Negotiate Your Medical Bills
When you are handling your claim on your own, insurance companies, including GEICO, will try to negotiate your medical bills down as low as possible. What does this do? Well, it effectively lowers your damages, and in effect, lowers your total settlement amount.
For example, let’s say you have a $10,000 emergency room bill. GEICO is aware of this bill and knows that the hospital will take a large reduction on it to satisfy the debt in full. They will negotiate with the hospital on your behalf and reduce this bill by at least 50%. Your $10,000 in damages has now been cut in half to $5,000. This means they pay less in medical bills for your claim and likely less overall for your overall claim, including your pain and suffering.
Pro Tip: Settle your case first with GEICO then ask for reductions on all your medical bills. You’ll get more money in your pocket this way.
8. Using Health Insurance Can Affect Your Case Value
Depending on which state your accident occurred, health insurance or Medicaid/Medicare can significantly affect the value of your case. It will depend on whether your state still recognizes what’s called the “Collateral Source Rule.” This rule says that if your health insurance paid for your medical bills or reduced them under a contracted amount, the original billed amount can’t be factored into your damages.
In states like Texas, the Collateral Source Rule is effectively dead thanks to the strong insurance lobby. This not only affects your “special damages” (e.g., medical expenses) portion of your settlement, but also affects the “general damages” (e.g., pain & suffering) portion. Of course, there are strategies that a lawyer can employ to overcome this obstacle.
In Florida, the status of the Collateral Source Rule is complicated. But let’s just say that the effect of health insurance isn’t as significant, although GEICO will try to use it as an excuse to decrease your damages.
In Arizona, GEICO can’t use this as a defense to decrease your medical damages. The Collateral Source Rule is still alive and well in Arizona!
9. Prove an Objective Injury
Typically, your case will be worth more money to a GEICO adjuster if you can prove, with objective proof, that you have an injury. This can be as simple as sending the adjuster your X-Rays/MRI film and reports or photos of your cuts, incision, or scarring.
GEICO adjusters will categorize your case as only a soft tissue injury case, if you only present them with evidence of minimal treatment at the emergency room or chiropractor. This will severely limit the amount of your settlement.
If you are experiencing symptoms beyond just soft tissue injuries, such as radiating pain, numbness, or weakness in your arms or legs, the best thing you can do is get an MRI and send the film and report to the adjuster. If you have a herniated disc with nerve or spinal cord impingement, your case is typically worth more.
10. Prove a Permanent Injury
Proving a permanent injury will likely increase the value of your case significantly. So, what is a permanent injury? Generally, a permanent injury is an injury that will not completely heal over time. A good example of a permanent injury is a herniated disc. Even with chiropractic treatment or physical therapy, a herniated disc won’t heal.
In contrast, to compare, what isn’t a permanent injury? Well, those are injuries that will heal over time, such as muscle strains and sprains, bruises, whiplash, and minor cuts or scratches.
A permanent injury may not only help your case value, but in Florida, proof of a permanent injury is actually required in order to recover pain and suffering and mental anguish in an auto accident. Florida Statutes § 627.737(2) specifically defines a permanent injury as:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
Other states, such as Arizona and Texas, don’t require proof of a permanent injury to recover pain and suffering or emotional distress but, as mentioned above, it will sure help your case.
How Long Does It Take GEICO to Settle?
In our experience, most GEICO cases settle within six months. However, it will depend on your injuries and when you’re released from all medical treatment.
You should never settle your case until your doctors have released you from treatment. You don’t necessarily need to be 100% but you should at least know what the extent of your needed future medical treatment will be.
If you’re not represented by an attorney, GEICO will try to settle your case as quickly as possible before you even know the extent of your injuries or had a chance to go to the doctor. If you are injured, DO NOT settle your case until you’ve at least consulted with a lawyer. A car accident lawyer will not charge you to ask him/her questions.
GEICO adjusters are usually motivated to settle cases. They will call often trying to place artificial deadlines on your claim. Remember, only the statute of limitations in your state determines the ultimate deadline of your case, not the GEICO adjuster’s arbitrary deadlines.
How Do You Calculate Your GEICO Claim?
Unless you’re an experienced car accident lawyer or insurance adjuster, it will be difficult to calculate an accurate value of your GEICO claim.
Just know your past and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and any other recognizable damages should be included in your calculation. As you can tell, some of these elements are easier than others to calculate.
Pain and suffering is one of those components of your damages that will be particularly difficult to calculate. There are no formulas for pain and suffering; juries don’t use them and neither do insurance adjusters.
Generally, GEICO uses claims software to calculate their settlement offers. Therefore, their adjusters are on a tight leash when negotiating claims. They simply do not have the settlement authority they once did.
GEICO adjusters enter in several factors of the claim into their claims software and the software will spit out a settlement range where the adjuster can settle the claim. If you want to get passed the top end of their settlement range, you’ll need to present them with new information about your injuries or you’ll need to file a lawsuit.
Is GEICO Good at Settling Claims?
The short answer is—NO. GEICO isn’t the worst, but they definitely aren’t the best. Out of the large insurance companies such as State Farm, Allstate, Progressive, Liberty Mutual, Farmers, and USAA, they are probably somewhere in the middle when it comes to settling your case for a fair value.
GEICO will try to settle your claim for as little as possible, especially if you’re not represented by a lawyer. In our experience, GEICO generally starts negotiations by offering somewhere around 50% of your total medical bills in a typical soft tissue injury case (e.g., whiplash). If your injuries are more severe, like broken bones, they typically offer more.
In most cases, GEICO will offer more after a lawsuit is filed. When you file a lawsuit, the adjuster will change to a litigation adjuster with more authority to settle your case.
Do I Have a Strong Case Against GEICO?
Having a strong case will depends on several factors, including:
Factor #1: Liability
If you are not at fault for your auto accident and GEICO has accepted liability, you’re on the right track. However, if you don’t agree with them placing full or partial liability on you, the strength of your case may suffer. Depending on why they are not accepting full responsibility for the accident, it may be best to consult with a lawyer to see if they can overcome an unfavorable liability decision.
I have seen GEICO offer their policy limits in cases where they only accept partial fault, but that is in cases where there are severe injuries. It’s not as likely in soft tissue injury cases that they will offer you their policy limits or even a fair settlement, especially if you’re dealing with a larger policy, such as a $100,000/$300,000 or a $250,000/$500,000 policy.
Factor #2: Coverage
If the driver who caused your accident failed to pay his insurance premiums or was driving someone else’s vehicle without their permission, you may be in a situation where GEICO does not extend their coverage to cover the loss. In coverage issue scenarios, having uninsured motorist coverage on your own policy will be helpful. Conducting a thorough investigation of any responsible parties will also be necessary.
Coverage issues arise very frequently in cases against non-standard insurance companies such as Fred Loya, American Access Casualty Company, National General, or United Auto Insurance Company. GEICO will generally not use unethical techniques to avoid paying on a claim, as these insurance companies do.
Factor #3: Type of Injury
The more severe your injuries are, the stronger your case tends to be against GEICO. However, GEICO tends to write smaller policies, with very few of their insureds having an umbrella policy to cover significant losses.
Typically, when the policy is insufficient to cover the damages, insurance companies, like GEICO, tend to immediately pay the policy limits to avoid any bad faith claims that may arise.
Factor #4: Medical Treatment
If you get minimal medical treatment in your case and your injuries are minor, it will be difficult to obtain a five-figured (or more) settlement, if not impossible, when dealing with GEICO.
Going to the emergency room by ambulance, having broken bones or fractures, or getting surgery will only strengthen your case before a GEICO adjuster’s eyes.
Factor #5: Property Damage
GEICO adjusters will always look at the property damage of all vehicles involved to see if there was a mechanism of injury. If there are only scratches and the impact was minor, you may have problems in proving the accident caused your injuries.
Factor #6: Venue – County the Accident Occurred
It matters where the accident occurred. If you’re in a county that tends to be more conservative politically, your case may tend to be valued a bit lower to GEICO. More liberal venues, such as Broward County (Florida), Pima County (Arizona), and Hidalgo County (Texas), case values are typically more, with all things being equal.
Do I Need a Lawyer in My Case Against GEICO?
If you only have property damage and are not injured, it’s likely you will not need a lawyer to handle your claim against GEICO.
But if you’re injured, even in the case of muscle sprains and strains, it’s always a good idea to get a free consultation from a car accident lawyer to make sure you don’t jeopardize your rights. Car accident lawyers don’t charge for consultations. You have nothing to lose in getting their advice.
How Much Can I Get for Pain and Suffering from GEICO?
If you have soft tissue injuries, GEICO will typically add anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 on to your medical expenses to compensate you for pain and suffering.
For more severe injuries, such as broken bones and fractures, the pain and suffering compensation GEICO offers will usually be more than $5,000.
Calculating pain and suffering is never easy, even for lawyers and adjusters. It’s arbitrary, as you can imagine. The best thing you can do is try to maximize the amount that is paid for pain and suffering in your settlement. You can do this by providing objective proof of pain to GEICO, such as from diagnostic testing (e.g., MRIs, X-Rays, CT scans) or photos of your injuries.
Do I Need to File a Lawsuit Against GEICO (GEICO’s Insured)?
If you want top dollar for your case, filing a lawsuit may be required. GEICO usually increases their offer when you file a lawsuit against their insured.
However, you still may be able to get full value for your case without a lawsuit. It just really depends on the strength of your case.
Will My Case Against GEICO Go to Trial?
Probably not. Most GEICO cases settle before trial, and many are settled prior to even filing a lawsuit.
Going to trial may be the only way to get full value for your case. However, even if you can get full value for your case at trial, it may not make economic sense to push it to trial. Trials are expensive and require significant time and preparation.
Both sides may not feel it’s necessary to spend the money or expend the time needed to get to trial in a case that can be settled for close to fair value.
GEICO Car Accident Settlements
Below are some our own clients’ GEICO case settlements and some pulled from Verdict Search, a database of jury verdicts and settlements.
You’ll notice that most of these settlements are in the five-figure range. This is due to the fact that most GEICO insurance policies sold are relatively small. As you’ve noticed with all the GEICO ads on TV and elsewhere, GEICO’s target market are those folks looking for a bargain.
Case Study #1: Client v. GEICO Insured (Bexar County, Texas)
Our client, a pedestrian, was crossing the street in a crosswalk in San Antonio, Texas, when a GEICO insured turning left, failed to yield the right of way to our client.
Crash Report Diagram
She hit our client in the crosswalk, injuring him. Our client later went to the emergency room on his own and was diagnosed with a compression fracture at T12 and two transverse process fractures at the L1 and L2 levels of his spine.
We demanded GEICO pay us their insured’s policy limits of $100,000, which they later tendered.
Case Study #2: Client v. GEICO Insured (Harris County, Texas)
Our client, a motorcyclist, was proceeding through traffic in Houston, Texas, when a vehicle pulled out in front of him, causing our client’s motorcycle to crash into the GEICO insured’s left rear fender.
GEICO Insured’s Vehicle Damage
Our client suffered injuries as a result of the crash, including several herniated discs and soft tissue injuries.
We demanded that GEICO pay their policy limits and GEICO responded with an initial offer of $23,194.48. We eventually filed a lawsuit against the GEICO insured and settled our client’s case for $45,000.
Case Study #3: Client v. GEICO Insured (Pima County, Arizona)
Our client proceeded through a four-way stop and was struck by a truck that failed to stop.
Our Client’s Vehicle
Our client suffered injuries, including neck and back sprains and strains, as well as an annular tear at the L4-5 level of her spine.
We later demanded GEICO pay their policy limits and they countered us with an initial offer of $39,807. Through several rounds of negotiations, we were able to settle our client’s case for $75,000.
Case Study #4: Client v. GEICO Insured (Pima County, Arizona)
Our client was rear-ended by a GEICO insured who was traveling at a high rate of speed.
Our Client’s Vehicle
He was taken to the emergency room and was later diagnosed with a disc protrusion at the L5-S1 level of his spine.
He initially hired another lawyer before hiring our firm and an offer was extended to that firm of $21,727.85. We filed a lawsuit against the GEICO insured and eventually were able to settle his case for $75,000.
Case Study #5: Client v. GEICO Insured (Martin County, Florida)
Our client was traveling on Interstate 95 when he rear-ended a disabled vehicle that was improperly stopped in the left lane of the highway.
Crash Report Diagram
He was taken to the emergency room by ambulance and was later diagnosed with two disc bulges at the C5-6 and C6-7 levels of his spine, compressing the thecal sac.
Our Client’s Vehicle
We demanded the policy limits and GEICO responded with an initial offer of $3,816.19. We later settled our client’s case for $20,000, the policy limits of both the driver and the vehicle’s owner.
Case Study #6: Flores v. Hernandez, a GEICO Insured (Bexar County, Texas)
Mr. Hernandez turned left in front of Mr. Flores causing a crash at an intersection on Somerset Road in San Antonio, Texas.
Mr. Flores claimed a herniated disc at C5-6 with nerve impingement and back and shoulder pain. He went to a medical clinic the next day and sought treatment with a chiropractor.
Mr. Flores’ attorney settled his case for $60,000, which included the policy limits of both Mr. Hernandez’s liability insurance policy and Mr. Flores underinsured motorist policy.
Case Study #7: Garza v. Cronin, GEICO Insured (Bexar County, Texas)
Ms. Cronin ran a red light and broadsided Ms. Garza’s vehicle near downtown San Antonio, causing her to suffer injuries. Ms. Cronin denied she ran the red light.
Ms. Garza presented to the emergency room within a few hours of the accident and claimed the accident caused several disc herniations in her spine and neck and back sprains and strains.
The case settled a month after mediation for $85,000.
Case Study #8: Liaghat v. Richardson, GEICO Insured (Dallas County, Texas)
Mr. Liaghat’s vehicle collided with Mr. Richardson’s vehicle when he attempted to make a left hand turn in front of him in Dallas, Texas.
Mr. Liaghat went to the emergency room by ambulance and was treated for soft tissue injuries to both his neck and back.
The case settled in litigation after mediation for $26,750.
Case Study #9: Bolton v. Hawkins, GEICO Insured (Marion County, Florida)
Ms. Bolton was driving through an intersection in Ocala, Florida, when Rickisha Hawkins, driving a stolen car crashed into Ms. Bolton’s vehicle.
She suffered a concussion and herniated discs at her C3-4 and L4-5 levels. She had symptoms of radiculopathy. Ms. Bolton underwent several surgical procedures, including discectomy, laminectomy, and fusion of her spine at the L4-5 level.
Ms. Bolton settled her case with GEICO for $399,999.99.
Case Study #10: Paredes v. Pollinger, GEICO Insured (Broward County, Florida)
Ms. Paredes crashed head-on with a sedan driven by Mr. Pollinger in Weston, Florida. Ms. Paredes claimed she injured her neck and sued Mr. Pollinger.
Ms. Paredes was taken to the emergency room by ambulance and was later diagnosed with a herniated disc at C5-6, impinging her spinal cord. Ms. Paredes underwent cervical fusion surgery at C5-6 with plate and other hardware installed.
Ms. Parades settled her case with GEICO at trial while the jury was deliberating for $475,000.
GEICO Contact Information
Phone: (800) 841-3000
Corporate Headquarters: 5620 Western Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Mailing Address: One GEICO Plaza, Washington, D.C. 20076
- Buffalo, New York
- Dallas, Texas
- Fredericksburg, Virginia
- Indianapolis, IN
- Lakeland, Florida
- Macon, Georgia
- San Diego, California
- Tucson, Arizona
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
- Woodbury, New York
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Kansas City, Kansas
- Iowa City, Iowa
- Houston, Texas
- Marlton, New Jersey
- Seattle, Washington
Contact Our Experienced Car Accident Lawyers to Handle Your GEICO Claim
Call us today for a FREE consultation regarding your GEICO bodily injury claim. Our car accident injury lawyers can investigate your accident, determine the at-fault party, and help you present the best case possible to GEICO. Call (855) 545-1777 to speak to our personal injury attorneys directly.