The purpose of this post is to provide a summary of our experience with Geico after having our first claim with them. Before I begin, I’d like to point out that comprehensive coverage, including roadside assistance and protection for our stuff inside the RV and the fact that they know we’re fulltimers, only cost us $69 / month. Which I personally think is a ridiculously good deal, since I’ve had car insurance that was easily 4 times that much.
Now on to the story.
On July 28th, 2008 we were leaving Pittsburgh to begin our adventure across America, when we made it no more than 15 miles out of town only to have our transmission catch fire. I managed to get the fire out and called Geico, because we had roadside assistance with them. I didn’t think for one minute that a problem with our transmission would be covered by our auto insurance, however I did know that they would have to tow us as part of the roadside assistance. Which they did, even though they towed the RV to an autobody shop rather than a mechanic’s garage. The other thing that the Geico representatives, who were not only very easy to get in touch with but were also very polite and always returned my calls (in the beginning), did was to tell me that:
- Damage caused by the fire would quite likely be covered by our policy.
- We were entitled to $1000 in spending money for things like hotels, car rentals and food while our RV, our home, was in the shop.
The setback was great, but those two pieces of information were a little piece of solace. So we spent the next few days in hotels, frustrated by the delay to our plans but happy at least in the knowledge that everything was being taken care of on Geico’s end, and that soon we would be back on the road.
Two days passed, then three, and still the local claims adjuster still hadn’t gone to look at our RV, each day saying she would and then each day not actually going. It took her five days to look at our RV. We had been staying in hotels, the cheapest we could find in the area, for those five days. Finally, she calls me back and tells me that the damage is not going to be covered. Additionally, she tells me that the portion of our $1000 of spending money that we’d used thus far also wouldn’t be covered.
My jaw dropped to the floor. The $1000 was initially a bonus to us, we weren’t expecting it nor did we ask for it, Geico told us we were entitled to it. I complained, and a few hours later someone from Geico called back to tell us that they would cover whatever amount we’d spent up until that point, but that no more money would be able to be used. Additionally, the autobody shop that they initially towed it to couldn’t, suprise surprise, work on the engine. So we had to arrange for the thing to be towed to a garage some 30 miles away.
The RV’s transmission was fixed, on our dime, but in the end Geico owed us $660 for the initial towing and another $440 for the second tow, as they were responsible for this. They also owed us $540 for the portion of the $1000 we’d spent. Even though Geico had arranged the original towing, they wouldn’t pay us our $660 until we faxed them a copy of the receipt. In my mind, they could have easily taken care of this themselves, having arranged the towing. Then we ran circles trying to find out who we were supposed to send the receipts for the $540 to, and again with the $440. Today is September 16th, 51 days after the initial problem, and I still haven’t received the final check for the $440. A week ago I called Geico and told them I hadn’t received the check, and they assured me it was in the mail. Today I called back, and a very nice woman sympathized with me, stated that it hadn’t been mailed, and that she was placing it in the mail tomorrow.
All in all, the vast majority of people at Geico are very nice, and everything they said they would take care of they did, short of actually fixing the transmission, which I can understand because it wasn’t an accident, but a mechanical failure. It bothered me at first that they said it would be covered, and then retracted that, but I chalk it up to poor communication on everyone’s part and perhaps some less-than-well trained phone reps.
And to be fair, Geico has paid us $1200 with another $440 on the way for a policy that only cost us $69 for that month, so they have lived up to their part in that regard. It’s just unfortunate that if we hadn’t hounded them every day for several weeks, they wouldn’t have paid anything, and that they took so long to get an adjuster out to look at our RV, knowing full and well that we lived in the thing.
Update: Only a few hours after I posted this, a man named Tom from Geico’s RV division called me and formally apologized on Geico’s behalf for any and all problems we’ve faced. He even said that the Vice President of the RV division had read this post and was reviewing our case. I found this to be very cool on the part of Geico, and also an indication that they’re constantly monitoring the Web for information on their services, so they are trying to improve their customer relations. Great job, Geico!