GEICO offers some of the best car insurance rates in Alabama and insures tens of thousands of Alabama residents. It is no wonder you might need to deal with GEICO if you’ve been involved in a car accident.
Alabama is an at-fault car insurance state. This means your injury claim will be paid by the insurer for the at-fault driver. If GEICO insured the driver who caused the accident, you and your accident lawyer will deal with GEICO and its claim adjusters.
Here are some secrets for handling accident claims with GEICO and ways an injury lawyer can help you obtain the recovery you deserve.
Accident Claims in Alabama
After your accident, you will exchange insurance information with the other drivers involved. If the at-fault driver has a policy from GEICO, your injury claim will be filed with GEICO’s claim division.
Your case will be assigned to a claim adjuster, who will determine the liability of GEICO’s insured. The claim adjuster will also assess the value of your claim.
This process can be difficult and frustrating, but injury lawyers know some of the secrets that can help you to get a fair offer from GEICO at the end of it.
GEICO Has a Financial Interest in Denying or Reducing Your Claim
GEICO is not in the insurance business to pay out on claims. Surveys confirm this. GEICO has a below-average rating for handling claims.
Instead, GEICO is in the insurance business to make money. GEICO is the second-largest auto insurer in the U.S. It collects over $35 billion in premiums every year. GEICO would not be one of the most profitable auto insurers if it paid all those premiums out for claims.
GEICO’s financial interest is to spend as little as possible in paid claims. At the same time, it cannot violate its duty under its insurance contracts to pay when liability is proven. So GEICO will pay only after you and your lawyer exert the time and effort to prove your claim.
GEICO Cannot Require You To Give a Recorded Statement
Early on in the claim, GEICO will request a recorded statement from you. A claim adjuster collects a recorded statement from you by asking you questions while recording your phone call. GEICO will claim that a recorded statement is necessary in order to process your claim.
But the claim adjuster can use other information to process your claim. Your lawyer will document your claim with medical records, police reports, and even photos of the accident scene if you have them. GEICO will speak to its insured and collect a statement about the accident. This information should sufficiently document the accident without your statement.
A claim adjuster may insist on a recorded statement…not for your benefit, but because it can give GEICO powerful evidence — namely your words — to deny or reduce your claim. For example, a claim adjuster may ask you about your injuries to try to prove that they pre-dated the accident. Even a seemingly innocent comment about your arthritis can be twisted into denying your claim.
If you want to give a recorded statement, consider hiring an injury lawyer to represent you during the call. A lawyer can try to keep the statement focused on the relevant issues without giving the adjuster ammunition to use against you.
GEICO’s Initial Offer Will Be Low
If GEICO does not deny your claim, its initial offer will be low. Often, the offer will be lower than your documented medical bills, even when you are entitled to full compensation for your out-of-pocket medical expenses.
For example, your lawyer might include $15,000 worth of medical bills with your claim. GEICO’s first offer could be as low as 20% of your expenses, or $3,000 in this example.
A low offer benefits GEICO in a few ways:
- GEICO saves money on your claim if you accept the low offer.
- GEICO’s claim adjuster has room to negotiate if you do not.
Thus, in the example above, if the claim adjuster doubles the initial offer to $6,000, you might feel like you accomplished a lot. But the offer is still $9,000 less than your documented medical bills, without even considering your lost wages or pain and suffering.
Getting a Fair Offer From GEICO Will Require Negotiation
Negotiating with GEICO will not be easy, but it may be necessary in order to get a fair settlement. GEICO’s claim adjusters are skilled negotiators. They employ negotiating tactics designed to pressure you into accepting a settlement that is lower than the value of your case. These tactics may include:
Stretching Out the Process
Alabama limits how much time insurance companies take to process claims. However, if the insurance company disputes liability, it can slow claims to a crawl. Delays in processing your claim can frustrate you and push you to accept a low offer just to end the whole situation.
Putting on the Financial Pressure
You will need medical treatment to recover from your injuries. Your injuries might prevent you from working. GEICO knows this and they will try to wear you down so you will accept an offer to ease your financial pain.
You should view negotiation as a necessary part of the settlement process. Fortunately, claim adjusters usually refrain from using negotiation tactics with lawyers because they do not want to expose GEICO to an unwinnable lawsuit.
GEICO Does Not Fight Losing Lawsuits
If your lawyer proves clear liability, GEICO will settle your case. GEICO does not fight losing lawsuits. Juries can be unpredictable, and GEICO’s greatest fear is to be hit with a large damages award.
Although a claim adjuster will fight to reduce the settlement amount, the claim adjuster must make a good faith effort to resolve the case when liability is clear. GEICO does not pay lawyers to lose cases. And it certainly does not want to expose itself to bad faith insurance claims.
If settlement talks stall, your lawyer can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. GEICO must defend its insured. It will need to balance the risk of a huge jury award against increasing its settlement offer. In most cases, the case will settle before it reaches trial.
How a Lawyer Can Help Resolve Accident Claims with GEICO
Resolving an accident claim can frustrate you. Accident lawyers can help by evaluating your case. This evaluation will tell you when GEICO’s offer is fair.
Accident attorneys know how GEICO’s claim adjusters work. They know how to counter the negotiating tactics used by GEICO. An accident lawyer may provide the easiest path to recovering compensation for your injuries when you’ve been in an accident.