Six Things GEICO Doesn’t Want You To Know When Settling an Insurance Claim in Pennsylvania
Ryan Zavodnick | November 2, 2020 | Car Accidents
GEICO earns millions of dollars each year as the second-largest automobile insurance provider in the United States. During 2019, the company wrote direct private passenger motor vehicle insurance premiums totaling over $34 million.
Because GEICO provides automobile insurance for millions of people in the United States, there is a chance that you might need to file a claim with GEICO if you are involved in a car accident. Many people decide to file insurance claims for car accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, truck accidents, and bicycle accidents directly with GEICO without consulting a personal injury lawyer.
If you decide to go up against GEICO without a lawyer, there are some important things that you need to know about accident claims filed with GEICO.
Six Secrets About Filing Accident Claims with GEICO
Before you file an accident claim with GEICO, consider these six secrets:
1. Insurance Adjusters Do Not Work For You
Insurance adjusters are friendly and caring. They tell accident victims that they want to help them settle their injury claim as quickly as possible for the highest value possible. The adjuster asks about your health, wellbeing, and family.
What the adjuster does not tell you is that your best interest is not his priority. His priority is to limit GEICO’s liability for your accident claim. His job is to save the company money by denying your personal injury claim or undervaluing your claim.
To do his job, the insurance adjuster needs to get as much information from you as possible. The more information you provide, the better chance the adjuster has of discovering something he can use to lower the value of your injury claim.
For instance, the adjuster might gather evidence he can use to allege you contributed to the cause of the car accident. Under Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence statute, if you are partially to blame for the cause of the accident, the company can reduce the amount of money it has to pay for your claim. If your fault is 51 percent or more, you cannot recover any money for your injuries and damages.
Adjusters are high-trained professionals, regardless of the image they portray. They are skilled at the art of conversation. An adjuster asks innocent questions about what you were doing before the crash and how your day was going.
The purpose is to get you to admit on the record something that the adjuster can use to try to blame you for the accident. For instance, did you oversleep? Were the kids loud in the car?
Therefore, it is best to avoid talking about anything related to the traffic accident, your injuries, or your recovery without talking with a lawyer first.
2. What You Say Could Hurt Your Case
As discussed above, anything you say, however innocent, can hurt your case. Do not agree to provide a written or recorded statement without talking to a personal injury attorney.
The adjuster or investigator might pressure you to make a statement. They might tell you that they cannot proceed with the claim without a statement. Do not fall for this insurance trick.
Remember, insurance companies like to record calls. Assume every conversation is recorded, even if the person does not inform you that you are on a recorded line or the conversation is being recorded.
3. GEICO May Manipulate the Value of Your Medical Treatment
GEICO uses a tactic to lower the value of your medical bills, which could lower the value of your personal injury claim. The company hires medical professionals to review the itemized medical bills provided by your doctors and health care providers.
If the company believes that a charge exceeds the “usual and customary charges” for treatment or services, it deems the charge excessive. It then lowers the charge for the medical services for your accident claim.
The total of your medical bills and other financial losses are often used when calculating the value of your pain and suffering. By lowering the total of your medical bills, the company lowers the value of your pain and suffering damages. It is a deceitful way of reducing how much your claim is worth.
Purchasing medical liens is another way to discount the value of your claim. GEICO might purchase medical liens from the hospital and other medical providers at a discounted rate. Instead of using the total cost of medical care, it uses the discounted figure to calculate the value of your economic damages, which lowers the value of your pain and suffering damages.
4. Your Claim May Be Worth More Than You Know
Unless you have a thorough understanding of personal injury laws and damages, you might not be aware of the actual value of your accident claim. Many people are unaware that they can receive compensation for their non-economic damages, in addition to their financial losses.
Non-economic damages refer to the pain and suffering you experience after a traffic accident. These damages include physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering. It also includes permanent disabilities, scarring, and impairments.
You might also be entitled to compensation for a decrease in your quality of life and the development of psychological injuries, such as depression, PTSD, and anxiety.
If you sustained a permanent injury, you might be entitled to compensation for future damages. Future damages include decreases in earning potential, loss of future income, ongoing medical treatment, and long-term personal care.
GEICO is not going to explain all of the damages that you might be entitled to receive by law. It will not tell you if your claim is worth more than it is offering as a settlement. Remember, it wants to pay a little as possible to settle your insurance claim.
A personal injury lawyer understands damages. He knows how to calculate the actual value of your injury claim and maximize each damage to increase your claim’s value.
5. Settlement Agreements are Final
If you accept a GEICO settlement offer, you are required to sign a settlement agreement and release. The settlement agreement is a binding legal contract, and it is a final resolution of your auto accident claim.
Settlement agreements drafted by insurance companies favor themselves. The agreements generally release the insurance company and ALL parties from ALL claims. That means you are releasing the parties and claims that you know about, but you are also releasing any parties and claims that are unknown.
For instance, if you discover that you sustained an impairment that prevents you from working full time or that you require additional surgery, you cannot go back to GEICO and demand more money. You cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver or another party seeking more money.
It is always in your best interest to have a personal injury lawyer review the settlement agreement before you sign it.
6. You Might Need to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
GEICO may refuse to negotiate in good faith to settle your insurance claim for a fair and reasonable amount. If so, your only option may be to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for your damages.
However, hiring a personal injury lawyer early in your case could reduce the chance that your claim ends up in court. GEICO knows when an attorney is involved, it cannot engage in tricky tactics and unfair actions. The lawyer knows its tricks and is ready for them.
Before you deal directly with GEICO, talk with a personal injury lawyer. Ensure that you understand your legal rights and the value of your claim before accepting a settlement offer.