The Government Employees Insurance Company, better known as GEICO, is one of the nation’s largest auto insurers. If you got hurt in a motor vehicle accident, it’s not unusual that a GEICO-issued insurance policy might cover some of your losses. And if that’s the case, you may want to know how to sue for compensation under a GEICO policy.
Below is a walk-through of the considerations and scenarios involved in filing a lawsuit against GEICO in an auto insurance case.
Overview of Common GEICO Auto Insurance Products
GEICO is a massive insurance company. It sells a wide range of auto insurance products that could cover you if you get hurt in a traffic accident. Here’s a review of some of those products and how they might apply in your case.
Auto Liability Insurance
Most states require drivers to carry auto liability insurance. It pays damages on the driver’s behalf for bodily injuries and property damage the driver causes to others while driving a covered vehicle. If you got hurt in a motor vehicle accident caused by someone’s careless or reckless driving, that driver’s auto liability insurance might cover your losses, including the cost of your medical care, your lost income, and pain and suffering damages.
Medical Payments (MedPay) and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance
Some states require drivers to carry insurance to cover the cost of their own medical care and other losses due to an accident, regardless of fault. You can also purchase this type of insurance optionally if your state doesn’t require it.
GEICO sells two types of insurance to serve this purpose. One is Medical Payments (or MedPay) coverage, which pays for the covered person’s medical care related to a car accident.
The other is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, also sometimes called no-fault coverage, which pays for the covered person’s medical care, lost earnings, and other accident-related expenses due to an accident.
If you got hurt in a motor vehicle accident, MedPay or PIP insurance you purchased could cover some of your losses, regardless of who was at fault in the crash.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance
GEICO sells insurance to protect you if the party at fault for causing your auto accident does not have enough insurance to pay for your losses. Some states require you to carry this uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Others make it optional. If, for example, you suffered injuries in a hit-and-run car accident or a crash caused by a driver who did not carry insurance, you could turn to the uninsured motorist coverage you purchased to pay some of your expenses.
GEICO also offers insurance to cover the damage to your car in an accident, regardless of fault. You can generally turn to collision insurance you purchased to pay for repairs to your damaged car or a replacement if your car was totaled in a crash.
What It Means to Have a Car Accident Claim Involving GEICO
As someone who sustained injuries in a car accident, your potential claims under a GEICO-issued insurance policy can take two forms:
- A first-party claim is a claim under an insurance policy you purchased or someone purchased for you.
- A third-party claim is a claim under a liability insurance policy that someone else purchased to protect themselves against liability for your injuries or losses.
You could have either or both types of claims under a GEICO auto insurance policy after getting hurt in a car accident. But how you approach that claim—the process for asking GEICO to pay you for your losses—can differ dramatically depending on which type it is.
First-Party GEICO Auto Insurance Claims
Suppose your claim is for compensation under a GEICO policy you purchased. In that case, the typical method of asking for your money is to notify GEICO about your accident and injuries and to submit a claim in whatever form GEICO requests. You can often submit a small claim, such as a collision damage claim for $1,500, to fix your dented car on your own through GEICO’s website or app, or you can reach them by phone.
However, the process may involve more time, effort, and documentation for larger claims. It can help to have a representative like an auto accident attorney handle the process on your behalf. GEICO may assign an employee known as an adjuster to investigate your claim and verify that it’s covered under your policy.
The adjuster may ask you to supply information or permission to contact your medical provider. They may independently investigate your accident or seek information from police investigators. Generally speaking, the larger the amount of money you request under your GEICO auto insurance, the more thorough and cautious you can expect GEICO to be about whether it has an obligation to pay.
GEICO will generally have a limited amount of time, fixed by state law, to respond to your first-party auto insurance claim.
- Approve your claim and pay all or part of it
- Deny your claim and refuse to pay anything
- Explain why it can’t yet decide and request more information
If GEICO does anything short of paying your claim in full, you generally have the right to dispute their decision through an appeal process. It is best to hire an attorney to handle any challenge to GEICO’s decision to partially or totally deny a claim or to delay a decision. An experienced lawyer can often negotiate directly with GEICO on your behalf, hold them to their obligations, and secure a favorable settlement of your claim.
Third-Party GEICO Auto Insurance Claims
A third-party claim under a GEICO auto liability insurance policy is more complex than a first-party claim. That’s because it involves asking GEICO to pay you money. After all, someone else—its policyholder—caused an accident that left you injured. It’s critical, in other words, that GEICO’s policyholder bears the blame for what happened. And it’s often up to you—or, more precisely, the lawyer you hire to handle your case—to prove that liability.
You may still submit a claim to GEICO as a third party. If GEICO covers the at-fault driver, your claim is relatively small, and no one disputes liability, you might request and receive payment right away in more or less the same manner you would handle a first-party claim. But frequently, things go differently.
Auto accident liability claims often spark disagreements over what happened and who’s to blame. And the larger the amount of money at stake, the greater the degree of dispute you might encounter. And that’s why car accident lawyers who represent victims like you might favor taking a more cautious approach to filing a claim.
Instead of simply submitting a claim to GEICO right-off-the-bat, it’s often necessary to build a compensation case consisting of evidence and legal arguments first. And rather than approaching GEICO directly with your proof for why it should pay under an auto liability policy, a skilled car accident lawyer may want to communicate your demand first to the at-fault driver or their attorney. In some cases (see below), the best approach might be to file a lawsuit against the driver and to let them deal with asking GEICO to cover your loss.
When Must You Sue GEICO or Its Policyholder?
As the discussion of first- and third-party claims above reflects, you may have ways to convince GEICO to pay for your car accident losses without filing a lawsuit. Having received a valid claim from you or your attorney, GEICO might agree that it has an obligation to pay you under the terms of the auto insurance policy it sold to you or the party at-fault for your crash.
Then again, it might not. Sometimes it takes filing a lawsuit to force GEICO to pay under an auto insurance policy. Here are three scenarios where that can happen.
Third-Party Claim, GEICO Denies Its Policyholder’s Liability
Suppose you assert a claim under a GEICO-issued auto liability insurance policy, arguing that GEICO’s policyholder caused the crash that injured you. GEICO could acknowledge that its policy would cover that liability but deny that its policyholder was at fault for your damages. In that case, your lawyer might recommend suing the policyholder for your losses.
If you win that lawsuit, GEICO would have an obligation to pay the amount awarded since it has acknowledged its obligation to pay for its policyholder’s liability.
First- or Third-Party Claim, GEICO Disputes Coverage
Suppose instead that you claim compensation from GEICO under your own policy or someone else’s, and GEICO refuses to acknowledge that the insurance it sold covers the accident. In that scenario, your lawyer might recommend suing GEICO alone or at-fault policyholder and GEICO jointly to enforce the insurance policy terms. This is what’s known as a coverage dispute. It asks a court to review the terms of an insurance policy to decide if it requires GEICO to pay your claim.
First-Party Claim, Challenge to GEICO’s Claim Handling Practices
Insurance companies like GEICO generally must comply with state laws governing how they process claims. Laws often require insurers like GEICO to respond to claims within a fixed amount of time, to communicate clearly with claimants, to act in good faith in adjusting (investigating) a claim, and to implement fair appeal procedures for disputed claims. And those laws sometimes allow claimants to sue insurers for violating them and to demand extra damages as compensation.
If you pursue a first-party claim under a GEICO auto insurance policy you purchased, and you believe GEICO’s handling of that claim treated you unfairly by, for example, delaying its resolution or making it unreasonably difficult for you to provide documentation, your lawyer might recommend suing GEICO for violating a state insurance law. If you prevailed in this sort of lawsuit, a court might force GEICO to pay your claim in full and pay extra damages as punishment for its unfair claim practices.
Hire a Lawyer to Sue Under a GEICO Auto Insurance Policy
If, as a first- or third-party claimant under a GEICO auto insurance policy, you need to sue to enforce your right to payment, you will want a lawyer to handle that process for you. Suing an insurance company or its policyholder is not something you can realistically do on your own. You have a limited chance of succeeding in that kind of lawsuit unless an experienced auto accident attorney represents you.
Here are just a few of the reasons you need a skilled accident lawyer in your corner:
- Lawyers know how to analyze insurance policies to identify areas of coverage.
- Lawyers can investigate car accidents to determine how they happened and who is to blame.
- Lawyers understand the laws governing liability and damages for car accidents.
- Lawyers understand the procedures for preparing, filing, and prosecuting a lawsuit in court.
- Lawyers speak the insurance coverage language, which is critical to successful settlement negotiations with insurance companies like GEICO.
- Lawyers understand how to present evidence and arguments in court.
- Insurance adjusters, lawyers, judges, or jurors will likely not take your claim seriously unless a lawyer handles it.
You needn’t worry about affording a car accident lawyer, either. All reputable attorneys who represent accident victims like you take cases on contingency. That means they only receive a fee if they get you results. You pay nothing unless they win for you.
Contact a Skilled Lawyer to Handle Your GEICO Auto Insurance Claim
As a large insurance company, GEICO covers multi-millions in car accident damages annually. That might include the losses you sustained in your crash. But that doesn’t mean getting your money from GEICO will be straightforward. You may need to sue GEICO or its policyholder, and if so, you’ll want an experienced lawyer to handle your claim.
To learn more about your rights under an auto insurance policy issued by GEICO, contact an experienced auto accident injury attorney for a free consultation.