Every auto insurer has a process for documenting and settling auto insurance claims, and GEICO is no exception. The GEICO claims process is similar to that of other car insurers. This article looks at some of the key steps in the process.
After a car accident, the GEICO claims process begins when you file a claim with the company. Claims can be filed online at www.geico.com/claims/report/ or by calling GEICO at 1-800-841-3000. When you file the claim, you may schedule a time for a claims adjuster to examine your damaged vehicle. If the vehicle is safe to drive, GEICO may ask you to bring it to one of their offices; if not, GEICO will send an adjuster to your house or the repair shop to examine the damaged vehicle.
GEICO allows you to choose which repair shop you want to fix your vehicle after a crash, but if you don't have one in mind, the company's website offers a list of options as part of its GEICO Auto Repair Xpress(R) program. The inspection of the vehicle should take about thirty minutes. The adjuster will examine the damage, take notes, and write up an estimate of the total. If you have rental reimbursement coverage with GEICO, the adjuster will also help you get a rental car to use while your own vehicle is being repaired. Get more at Disputes Over Vehicle Repairs After a Car Accident.
The GEICO examiner will ask you some questions about what happened in the accident and whether any of the damage to your vehicle existed before the crash occurred. Answer the adjuster's questions as accurately as you can, but don't embellish or make up information to fill any gaps in your memory. If you don't know the answer to a question or can't remember, tell the adjuster that you don't know or can't remember. If you remember additional information later, you can contact the adjuster.
In addition to the vehicle inspection, you may be asked to participate in an interview with the adjuster. These interviews typically take place by telephone at a time that is convenient for you. You should answer the adjuster's questions honestly, just as you did when the adjuster inspected your vehicle. If you have concerns about any of the adjuster's questions, you can ask the adjuster for clarification, or contact an experienced auto insurance claims attorney to discuss your concerns.
An interview and a longer investigation are more likely if you or someone else were injured in the accident. This is especially true if the injured person accuses you of being "at fault" for the accident. In these cases, GEICO spends more time investigating the claims you make and the claims made by others involved in the accident -- to determine who was at fault. The investigation may also take more time if you are sued by someone else involved in the crash. In this case, notify GEICO immediately, since the company can provide you with an attorney to represent your rights and interests in the case.
In figuring out who was at fault (and each party's percentage of fault), the adjuster will look at the circumstances surrounding the accident, statements from you (and from other drivers and witnesses), findings in the police report, and information about local or state traffic laws that might be related to your crash. If some of this information is conflicting or confusing, the adjuster may perform additional interviews or investigations to clear up any questions before making a liability determination.
Once the adjuster has all necessary information, he or she will finalize a settlement-compensation offer. This involves sending you a check for the amount of the car repair estimate -- minus your deductible, if any (although if someone else is at fault for your crash, GEICO will work to recover your deductible for you). If your car is a "total loss" from an insurance standpoint, GEICO will offer you the "actual cash value" of your car (again, minus your deductible, which may eventually be recovered from the at-fault driver's insurance carrier.)
Once you have an offer in hand, you may accept it or reject it. Before you decide what to do, you may want to speak to an experienced auto accident attorney so that you understand all of your legal rights and options.