Geico Doesn’t Know Whose Car You Drive

Geico is happy to take your money to insure you. But they don’t know whose car you drive. They don’t know what kind of car you drive. And even when your Geico agent tells you that you’ve won, that really means that you’re at fault.

Sounds incredible, but reader Ben D. wrote us in with just such a comedy of Geico errors. After getting into a small accident and exchanging Geico policy numbers with the person who hit him, Ben expected quick pay-out. He clearly wasn’t at fault. But first Geico claimed he was driving his father’s car. Then they claimed he was driving a mysterious woman’s Hyundai. Then he’s told, via recording, that he’s won his case. But oops! Geico then recants, claiming that the agent made an error and, actually, it’s all his fault anyway.

Poor Ben D. His surreal Geico adventure, after the jump:

So I’ve been wondering where I should take this story, and just ran into your page tonight. Thought you might get a kick out of this. Kind of a long story, but it’s worth it.

It’s my last day at my wonderful job, and I’m driving to work about half an hour early (nothing better to do and I’m ready to be done!). I decide to pull into the Shell station I always grab a drink at on my way to work, and upon realizing there are no parking spaces on my side of the pumps (and no way to get around the pumps, only through) I decide to go through the pumps carefully to get to the other side to park. Mind you, there were cars at every pump, and that’s a “Be Careful, Guy!” situation. So I’m creeping through as best I can, and this lady opens her door into my wheel well. By the time I come to a stop, it’s destroyed my right front fender, just short of ripping it off. Yes, I was going slow, it was a Volvo door that hit me. Her door sustained very little damage. My poor 240 has been permanently scarred.

So we get out, I’m cordial, we laugh when we see that we both have Geico and talk about how wonderful they are (shudder). Information is swapped, I get to work (still 15 minutes early) and finish out my sentence with them. Fast forward to about a week later, and my dad tells me “Why did you give Geico my insurance policy number??” I told him “NO, it was mine! I’ve been paying my own policy for over a year now, it’s impossible!” Somehow, they screwed up the names and put the whole accident on his policy number and were pursuing him for a statement. I straighten this out, and my agent calls me up to get a sworn statement regarding the accident. I tell him basically everything up there, and everything seems fine. He sends me to a shop to get an estimate, which ends up being about $1200.

A couple days later, I get a letter from Geico telling me that I will not be covered since I was driving Christina So-and-so’s 2002 Hyundai Sonata (not the 92 240sx on my policy). I don’t know Christina, and I prefer not to drive Hyundais. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those. That same day I get a call from my agent while I’m at my new job and he leaves me a voicemail. In this voicemail (which I have saved on my computer) he tells me that they’ve concluded their investigation, and found that I was not responsible for the accident, and to call the other agent to make my claim. I call the other agent. She tells me that they have a potential eye-witness and that the investigation has been re-opened. I say fine, and wait three days. I call my agent back. He tells me that the eye-witness (the gas station attendant) didn’t want to get involved. He tells me it’s still back in investigation (for what, I wonder to myself… no new information has come up).

I call back three or four days later, leave a voicemail, and my agent calls me back to tell me that no claim will be paid out, since they have a swearing match and neither statement can be proven. “But William, you left me a voicemail saying that we won! That your investigation found me not at fault!” No response to that, only “I’m sorry it turned out this way.” So I talk to his supervisor. I talk to that supervisor’s supervisor. Finally they have this bulldog call me up who could care less about service and courtesy. I argue with him for half an hour (while at my new job) for him to tell me that their first investigation was “wrong”. That my agent “shouldn’t have told me I wasn’t at fault.”

No relief. Geico will not pay me. So I go to the valiant Texas Department of Insurance! Surely they will provide me with some restitution! No response for weeks, Geico sends me a copy of the statement they sent to TDI (not a single mention of my name in that statement, only the other driver’s claim). Fast forward what might actually have been 4 to 6 weeks, and TDI tells me there’s NOTHING THEY CAN DO. They never ask for the voicemail I have on my computer of my agent telling me we won.

Anyways, I dropped it. It was affecting my health. My car’s passenger door will not open all the way. I paid Geico every month, on time, every time. I picked up the fight again a couple weeks ago, but only to be told by the same supervisors that I if I want to get any money, I have to take them to court. I don’t think I can afford a lawyer, nor do I think I have the patience. I guess I’m writing this because I’ve got no idea where to go with this. I can’t seem to let myself drop it. I keep wondering if maybe I’d gone one level higher with supervisors, I’d get my check, but it seems unlikely. I’d be happy to send pictures of the car, and even the recording from my voicemail, if it’ll keep others from having to deal with this.

Thanks for listening/reading, it’s great to get this out!

Comments

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  1. He says:

    Marry somebody in the military for a few months to get on USAA. Divorce them and keep your new and better insurance. Don’t forget to keep your finances and everything else separate. Sorry to hear that you gave up. I’m curious to hear what statement the other woman gave. i’ll bet she was pressured quite a bit since there was no damage to her car and you being at fault would mean no payout.

  2. Fast forward what might actually have been 4 to 6 weeks, and TDI tells me there’s NOTHING THEY CAN DO.

    Is there any state insurance regulation entity that can/does anything? The running theme seems to be that they always say that they can’t help at all.

  3. Slack says:

    1200 Bucks sounds like small claims….

    Take all the documentation & represent yourself.
    It’ll cost you time but the satisfaction will be worth it.

  4. Magister says:

    So it looks like the letter writer was trying to make a claim against the other persons policy. What was thier story?

    Was there a denial?

    The accident as described is hard for a claim adjuster to assign blame to unless both parties agree on the circumstances. If the other person denies that she opened her door into you, and instead you drove into her, then I wouldn’t pay out either.

    Good luck, but I don’t imagine you will get anywhere in the he said/she said world.

    Get COMP/COLL and you would have been taken care of and GEICO would try to subro against itself.

  5. Lesley says:

    My boyfriend recently endured a similar situation with State Farm. A woman turned left in front of him on a yellow light and he hit her. The police issued her a ticket for failure to yield right of way, they exchanged their information and he went about his way. Days later, the woman claims she has a witness who says that the light was red, not yellow and now the whole accident is the Boyfriend’s fault and State Farm decided to agree since he’d recently cancelled the collision part of his policy to lower his rate. Insurance companies must love it when people involved in the accident have the same insurer so they can just pick the liable party that’s most beneficial for THEM. I told him to switch to Progressive.

  6. AcilletaM says:

    State Farm is horrible when both drivers are insured by them. My girlfriend had to hire a lawyer to deal with them for an accident that was not her fault.

    Progressive was terrific when I had my accident. They handled everything. My issue with them is they cost more than twice what I am paying now.

  7. Ishmael says:

    One of the worst things you can do is to get into an accident with someone who has the same insurance company as you do. Seems silly, doesn’t it? My husband is an insurance agent, and he gets stories all the time of two people, with the same insurance company, having these exact same problems.

    Two words: police report.

  8. Anonymously says:

    May as well post the voice mail on Consumerist. I have Geico, so I’ll keep this post on file in case I ever have a problem with them.

  9. Drinker Nisti says:

    They ALL screw you when both parties have the same insurer.

    Getting quotes for car insurance. State Farm says “You know, your rate would be $100 cheaper except for that accident in 2001.” Me: “Huh? That wasn’t my fault. I was rear-ended.” State Farm: “Well, the record shows that your insurer paid out on the claim.” Shit. It was a case where I was hit by someone with the same insurer– AAA. I remember going back and forth with them back in 2001 over fault and I thought it was worked out.

  10. bambino says:

    small claims court is a joke. there has to be another way.

  11. Ben Popken says:

    Cory writes:

    “I’m wondering how Geico got away with not paying for his damage since
    they insure him. Maybe it’s different in TX but in FL your insurance
    should pay for damage to your vehicle regardless of fault (unless you
    are using it for a felony at the time).

    I would tell Ben D to file a complaint at small claims court. Geico
    would most likely just pay the claim instead of paying for one of their
    lawyers to go to court and defend them. An individual claim for $1,200
    is nothing to an insurance company they should have paid it in the first
    place, but even now they should have paid it just as a nuisance claim
    (to get it off there desk and out of there system)”

  12. AcilletaM says:

    Ishmael, a police report helps but in my girlfriend’s case State Farm still had to do their own investigation into the accident and who was at fault. She even had the accident on tape from the companies security camera.

  13. North of 49 says:

    Where I live, we just have one insurance company and because of that, it is mandatory to have insurance, not optional. You can shop around for extras, but not if you want to drive your car.
    Which means, the minute you are in an accident, you have to get a lawyer. The company here is known for not paying out or paying out only they pennies they must absolutely have to.

    My advice: get a lawyer. Especially one that works on a contingency fee – 30% of the settlement. After all 30% of 0 is 0.

  14. Tankueray says:

    Two observations. 1) He drives a ’92 240sx, probably paid for, so he only had the minimum allowed insurance which only pays for the damage to the other person’s vehicle. 2) He was at a gas station when the accident occured. In Texas, the police will not write an accident report for an accident on private property that places one driver at fault. Go to http://www.oag.state.tx.us/consumer/complain.shtml and file a compliant with the state Attorney Gerneral’s office as well. Refer to your complaint to TDI and explain that you do not feel that anyone is tkaing your complaint seriously. Then call around to the salvage yards and see if you can get the parts to repair it cheaper and do it yourself. If you find a small salvage yard, they might repair it for you or reccommend someone. If it’s just a fender it should be around $70 for the part and then you put it on and get it painted. It may also be cheaper to get it painted first then you put it on yourself. If that doesn’t sound like a fun weekend for you, call around to the high schools and tech schools in the area with auto body training programs, often you can get them to fix it cheaper.

  15. Lesley says:

    In the case of the BF’s accident, he did have a copy of the police report that clearly stated the other driver was at fault. State Farm didn’t care about who was really at fault and then they set about telling him he would be pretty much SOL with any kind of lawsuit. And then they cancelled his policy (but then changed their mind). Total bastards.

  16. reader11 says:

    Geico is most likely not paying Ben D. because Ben probably doesn’t carry collision coverage on his car. If you don’t carry collision, you cannot be paid for your auto damages regardless of whose fault it is. Secondly, Geico would not subrogate against “itself”, Geico would pursue the at-fault person’s claim to have the damages z-transferred to the at-fault policy, if anything had already been paid out under the policy of the innocent party. If Ben received a denial letter, it would state the reason for the denial. When there is an accident (regardless if both carriers are the same or not) and each party states something different from the other, if there is no independent witness (the gas station attendant who refused to get involved) and there is no police report (most won’t write a report on private property like that), then what you have is called a word-vs-word accident. No court will rule favorably to either party in that situation, and thus no insurance carrier will pay the other party’s damages. If Ben had carried collision, he’d have simply paid his deductible, gotten his vehicle fixed, and then his carrier could have *tried* to pursue the other party; however, in any subrogation attempt, there is never a guarantee of success.