My situation began June 5th when a person who ran a red light while running from the police struck my vehicle head on at about 30 TO 35 MPH.
A couple days after my vehicle was towed to the collision appraiser's facility I was contacted by phone and told that Geico had decided to repair the vehicle.
I objected to the adjusters decision to repair the vehicle once I was informed that the frame was bent in two directions, that it needed a new axle and new suspension (basically a new front end).
Two business days later when I went down to the shop to discuss face-to-face with the adjuster I was informed that the vehicle was already sent in for repair without my authorization. When I questioned why they went forward without my signature, I was told that it wasn't necessary for me to sign anything. (Per Illinois law, an auto is not supposed to be released for repair by the insurer. Only the owner can do this. There are similar restrictions on the repair shop as well, but this regulaiton was ignored by the repair shop as well.)
I called the claims department at Geico's 800# to complain and was told that they total vehicles whenthe repair cost is 65 to 75% of the FMV. He went on to say that if the supplemental estimate showed that the repair cost reached that amount they would still total. I'm not sure how true this is, but it is the only reason I did not complain during the repair period. I waited for the estimated 13 day repair to complete so I could see the supplemental estimate.
However, what was estimated as 13 days of repair became much more than that. Just before the 13th day I receved a call from the adjuster saying they needed more time to work on the vehicle. When the repair period extended beyond my 30 days of rental coverage, I received a call from the auto repair shop. I was specifically told that the hit was harder than could be fixed in 30 days. He went on to say they had encountered cracked valves and other hidden repair items that were not revealed by the original estimate of the repair. (None of this would make it into the supplemental estimate.)
I was told by Garry from the auto repair shop to stay in the rental vehicle and they, the repair shop, would pick up the rental vehicle cost.
I did as instructed. It took another three weeks before I got the call that the vehicle was ready for pick up - July 22nd.
I did not pick up the vehicle immediately. I waited for the supplemental estimate to post to Geico's web site. This happened a week later - July 29th.
When I reviewed it, it showed that for the additional 3 weeks of work that they claimed "was a harder hit than could be repaired in 30 days" only 8 hours of mechanics time and $1300 in materials was added to the original repair estimate. This extra material and labor included a reconditioned gear box and a reconditioned engine cradle.
In none of the update calls had anyone ever stated that there were delays in getting parts or that there was a back up in the shop. I was always told that the extended repair period was due to the severity of the collision. Now, upon reviewing the supplemental estimate, for the additional 3 weeks of work that they claimed "was a harder hit than could be repaired in 30 days", only 8 hours of mechanics time and $1300 in materials were added to the original repair estimate. This extra material and labor included a reconditioned gear box and a reconditioned engine cradle.
None of which were significant enough to substantiate the extended repair period. Now, I suspect them of omitting some of the labor and repair work done on the vehicle in order to keep the repair cost clear of the 65% to 75% fair market value of the vehicle.
At this time I tried to invoke the insurance contract remedy for instances when the owner and the appraiser disagree.
I submitted a letter to the collision adjuster within 60 days of the date of loss and requested we go through the process of selecting independent appraisers. I was told that I could, at my own expense have the vehicle inspected.
By now it is mid-August. I went ahead and paid to have the vehicle inspected because I was concerned about what I wasn't being told about the repair work.
And even after six weeks of repair, there was further work to be done.
The inspector had noted two findings. The front quarter panel was not properly aligned. And there was a rattling or significant vibration coming from the front passenger wheel area. (He later issued a report declaring the repair work as Poorly performed.)
I advised the collision adjuster of the findings and he told me they would get right on it. Two weeks later I was again told the car was ready.
The inspector I used told me that he had worked things out with the repair shop that he would re-inspect on their dime. But the shop was now refusing to have the vehicle re-inspected.
By early to mid September my complaint with the Department of Insurance was being investigated. But it was obvious from the start that the insurance analyst sided with the insurance company. She began insisting, just as Geico and the auto body shop had, that I pick up the vehicle. She seemed to look past Geico's blatant actions that ignored a few state statutes governing insurance claim processing and auto repair work authorization, as well as Unreasonable Delay and Unfair Claims Practices.
By now, it is early-October and a regional Manager from Geico, P. Cook, contacts me to try to reach closure on the claim.
Around this time I was in touch with a lawyer who was trying to assess whether there was actually a valid claim on my part. He suggested I request Geico to provide a copy of whatever they have with my signature authorizing them to repair the vehicle. He also told me to request the same of the auto repair shop in addition to requesting that they provide a detailed receipt of all of the work performed on the vehicle.
I already know they have nothing with my signature. I was most interested in seeing the detailed receipt. Which was never sent. Instead, CDE sent a print out of Geico's supplemental estimate and sent an email stating that they are not obligated to provide me with a detailed lost of the repairs.
In mid-October the lien holder on my vehicle, 5th 3rd Bank, again contacted me. This was the third or fourth time Jennifer had contacted me since early September. Previously, she told me that she had been contacted by the auto body shop who was "threatening" to file a mechanics lien on my vehicle. (Something the lawyer had told me the repair shop couldn't do because I had never authorized them to do any work on my vehicle.)
This time she called to say that they told her they were actually going to file the lien. I repeated to her that, per my lawyer, they could not. She wanted to know if I wanted her to pick up the vehicle. I told her, no. She stated that she was concerned that they were going to lose their interest in the vehicle.
The day after receiving her call, I received a very stern email from the auto repair shop regarding the pick up of the vehicle (he must have gotten my email address from Geico; just as he had gotten my lien holder information).
The next day I received a fax from Geico (that was forwarded by the insurance analyst) saying that they are giving the repair shop authorization to dispose of the vehicle if it is not picked up.
And lastly, the cover letter from the Department of Insurance analyst that accompanied this fax threatened that this matter could wind up in court if I do not pick up the vehicle.
Sensing that I was being pressured by all these individuals to close the claim, I shot back an email questioning my lien holder's involvement in this matter. I stated that the vehicle has not been abandoned and that Geico needed to start dealing with me fairly.
The next day the insurance analyst wrote me back saying that my claim was being closed since I had gotten a lawyer involved. That was mid-October.
I had heard nothing from Geico or anyone else, until 10/31 when I received a letter in the mail from 5th 3rd bank saying that my vehicle was repossessed!!
The form letter was dated 10/27 and it stated that the vehicle had been repossessed on 10/18.
I immediately called the 5th 3rd service desk to ask the status of my account.
When the phone rep stated that my account was in good standing, I explained that I had received a letter saying that my car was repossessed due to failure to pay. I was quickly put on hold. A few minutes later I was transferred right back to Jennifer.
She said that she had warned me that she feared they would lose their interest in the vehicle. I told her that she had no business being involved in this matter in the first place. As long as I continued to pay my car note that is really all she needed to be concerned with. She went on to say that she had received a fax stating that a lien had been filed. And this is why she went ahead and took possession of the vehicle. I demanded that she send me a copy.
What she sent me was a fax from the auto repair shop, Collision Damage Experts, stating that they were getting nowhere with me and, that they will need to file a mechanics lien. She has no copy of any formal filing, just this fax from the auto body shop.
Still no word from Geico about the final disposition of the claim. Did I mention that I still pay my premium every month to them as well for a vehicle that I have not driven in six months and one which they have authorized the disposal of?
And just today I received a letter from an attorney representing 5th 3rd demanding I clear up the outstanding debt. I did mention that I continue pay on this "outstanding debt" every month via automatic payments from my bank?
You would think that a lawyer would be all over this situation, but the fact is - lawyers don't like ot get involved in long drawn out battles unless there are deep pockets that can pay their fees. They are fumbling over themselves for the personal injury portion of this claim, but no one wants the property damage part. But I am awaiting my claims submitted to the City of Chicago Consumer Services Department and the Illinois Attorney General.
Lastly, did I mention that I went online to check my credit history today and found - lo and behold - that 5th 3rd had reported the foreclosure with two of the three reporting agencies. (Which explains why I was rejected for a Home Depot Credit Card).
Another tidbit, with my credit shot to hell by the reported repossession, I won't be able to switch insurance companies since a review of my credit is a prerequisite to obtaining insurance. ALready been turned down by a potential insurer.
So here I am screwed by Geico and Tatoo'd by my lien holder. As of this past Monday, this matter has been pending for 6 months. I appear closer to the poor house than I do a settlelment for this mess.
Let the potential Insurance hunter be warned - Geico will save you money, but if you don't go along to get along when they are trying to their money, they will have one of the business partners do their best to beat you into submission.
I'm living proof and paying roughly $200/month for the privilege of having my credit ruined!!
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