An accident occurs in the parking lot of a small, local business — private property — and the drivers exchange information. The driver at fault admits fault, and readily provides his name, phone number, address, driver’s license number, insurance company (GEICO) and policy number.
A week or so passes before Beta (owner of the injured vehicle) calls GEICO to report the claim. They take the report, then say they need to talk with their insured. Okay… but, weeks pass, and the at-fault driver doesn’t return calls to his insurance company. He doesn’t respond to certified mail.
Or, GEICO says he didn’t respond. Unfortunately, it’s been our experience over the last few weeks that it’s impossible to get a real person on the phone; you get the privilege of leaving a voice mail, and the one person (Antonia Johnson, Examiner Code F669) who can talk about this claim might call back in a day or two. Usually at the least convenient time, like in the middle of an upper-division physics class, or when Beta was riding her bike from UT to Island Home. So, we’re thinking it’s possible he tried to call — maybe multiple times — but just didn’t leave a message.
Benefit of the doubt seems warranted, since he was very polite about the whole thing and did provide accurate information. Meanwhile, GEICO also called HWTFM at work to get his version of events.
Earlier this week, Beta got a letter from GEICO stating that because they have been unable to contact their customer, and lacking a police report or verification of independent witnesses (evidently, HWTFM is not considered independent; why did they bother him in the first place?), they were dropping the claim.
It took me just one quick phone call to the tire store; the gentleman who answered the phone remembered the accident. It only took another two minutes before he found an employee who had been in the parking lot at the time, and saw the whole thing. So, I called GEICO and left a rather terse message to that effect, and provided the Ms. Johnson with the information when she got around to returning my call.
So, she talked to an independent witness who could verify that the white truck pulled out and hit the side of the black truck. He didn’t know either of the drivers (thus, qualifying him as a truly independent witness), and didn’t write down tag numbers or anything, but gave an accurate description of the vehicles and drivers.
A description which matched, by the way, the cell phone photo that Beta had already e-mailed GEICO. It showed the front of his white truck, and the side of her black truck, with his body partially in the photo as he leaned on the front bumper of his truck.
Still, GEICO says they cannot settle the claim because the independent witness cannot positively confirm the identity of the man in the white truck. The man whose name, address, driver’s licence number, etc. is recorded in his own handwriting on a note in Beta’s possession.
Beta has an appointment with a GEICO adjuster next week, and Ms. Johnson said that if they can speak with their insured before then, the adjuster will be authorized to cut a check. If not… we’re right back where we’ve been for six weeks already.
I do believe that the Tennessee Insurance Commission needs to know about this. And the Better Business Bureau. And probably some other folks in a position to right this wrong.
Meanwhile, if you’re shopping for insurance, caveat emptor: the lizard’s not nearly as helpful as he is on TV.