Am I pretty much stuck with what GEICO's offering?
November 2, 2006 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Back in June, a 20 year old soldier drove his truck through my house. Mercifully, my family and I were not there at the time, but he drove through my office, the hallway, and my daughter's room, so needless to say there was a lot of damage. We didn't have renters' insurance at the time (although we do now!), so we had to deal with his insurance company (in this case, GEICO). The other day, they sent us the proposed settlement. Unfortunately...

... his property damage coverage was only $10K, so our claim, the landlords' claim, and the landlords' insurance claim all had to come out of that. I'm going to find a lawyer today, obviously, but I was hoping I might be able to get an idea of what I would expect to hear. Are we pretty much screwed, or do we have much of a chance to get more out of GEICO?

Possibly complicating matters somewhat is that the City of Olympia has kindly filed a restitution order against the guy, but I haven't heard back from them yet. I'm also trying to get a hold of them before I go to a lawyer so I can have that information when I talk to one. Any ruling against the dude who actually drove through my house, though, is likely to be a moral one, since he's only a PFC. Assuming the Army hasn't thrown him out, his wages can be easily garnished, but you can only get so much blood from a turnip.

I repeat, I'm going to talk to a lawyer; I would just like to have a better idea of what I should expect to hear.
posted by Captain_Tenille to Law & Government (14 answers total)
If his property damage coverage was $10k, that's all GEICO is obligated to and is going to pay, period. I have no idea how that is legally split between the parties in question.

However, keep in mind that anyone who isn't made whole can still sue this man personally, and that's what the landlord's insurance company WILL do if they stand to recover any of their losses from it.
posted by trevyn at 10:44 AM on November 2, 2006

This is a good example as to why you should always have more than the minimums for insurance. You never know when you're going to drive into someone's house.

The 10k settlement is the maximum that GEICO can give you, and unfortunately all you're entitled to from them - that's all the insurance the guy had. I am not your insurance agent, however, most likely your landlord's home owner's policy will cover it up front, and then that company will seek repayment by the driver of the vehicle. If not, then you and your landlord can sue him personally for the additional damages over 10k.
posted by sephira at 10:47 AM on November 2, 2006

Your landlord's claim and your landlord's insurance company's claim overlap--they shouldn't get paid twice for the same thing. However, your landlord's insurance is going to try to make sure they don't have to pay. They're the one's you're really going to wind up fighting here. You want to work it out so that you get in line ahead of them, and that's where your lawyer comes in.
posted by adamrice at 10:52 AM on November 2, 2006

Response by poster: Small clarification: the landlord's claim was for their deductible they had to pay their insurance company.

I'm not fighting with the landlords' insurance company at all -- that's the landlords' business, and they've already paid for fixing the house up. Their policy didn't cover any of our stuff or anything.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 11:00 AM on November 2, 2006

Small clarification: the landlord's claim was for their deductible they had to pay their insurance company

The landlord's insurance company is almost certain to bring a subrogation action on the landlord's behalf, to get their money back on the damage to the house.
posted by deadmessenger at 11:08 AM on November 2, 2006

Response by poster: Oh, their insurance company was making a claim too; I was just trying to explain the difference between what the landlords and the landlords' insurance company were filing claims on. Landlords: to get their deductible money back. Landlords' Insurance: to get the money they spent getting the house fixed up back.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 11:12 AM on November 2, 2006

Your best bet is to get your lawyer, when you lawyer up, to try and ferret out some more money. Properly trained lawyers are going to exhaust every possible way to get money out of someone who had something to do with this.

If they take the case on contingency, they've found it. If they require you to pay up front, or refuse to take the case, you'll be eating the difference.

Not to make you feel bad, but it's stories like this that make me glad I listened to my dad and got renter's insurance when I moved out.
posted by plaidrabbit at 11:34 AM on November 2, 2006

Speaking as an insurance agent (very recently with GEICO, as it happens) who has heard/worked claims involving this scenario more times than I can count (seriously, you'd be surprised at how many people find it impossible to avoid hitting houses and other buildings), $10,000 is the maximum that GEICO is liable for.

In the state where I am licensed (which is not the state where you live), the $10,000.00 should be divided equally between all of the affected parties. I am sure that you are fully aware that your landlord/property owner's policy doesn't usually cover the contents of your home, which is why it's so important to carry renter's insurance (so it's excellent that you have it now).

I am so sorry that this happened to you, because I'm sure that your share is well below the amount of your loss. I hope that your attorney will be able to settle with the person who caused the damage.
posted by mewithoutyou at 12:06 PM on November 2, 2006

Unfortunately, unless you sue the soldier, which isn't likely to net very much unless he's a missing Vanderbuilt playing soldiers for fun, you aren't going to get anything else out of the insurance company.

Which is totally sucky, and a prime example of why renter's insurance is so very important.

That said, I'm glad none of you were hurt!
posted by dejah420 at 12:17 PM on November 2, 2006

Just out of curiousity, if they sue the driver and win will they be able to garnish his wages for life until the amount is paid off (even if they can only squeeze out $20 a month) ?
posted by mikepop at 12:43 PM on November 2, 2006

dejah420 writes "Unfortunately, unless you sue the soldier..."

There doesn't necessarily have to be a lawsuit here. While Captain_Tenille should certainly work through an attorney, he might be able to reach a reasonable, mutually agreed-upon settlement with the driver. They also might be able to settle things with an arbitrator. A lawsuit an frustrating collection process with liens and wage garnishment and all that is a worst-case scenerio; there are plenty of options before that.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:45 PM on November 2, 2006

Any chance the soldier was on duty? Or on his way to or from duty?
posted by sour cream at 12:55 PM on November 2, 2006

Good question from sour cream: if it happened in the course of his employment, uncle sam as his employer might be vicariously liable. Your lawyer will surely look into this though, as it's the obvious deep pocket here.
posted by tiny crocodile at 1:43 PM on November 2, 2006

Response by poster: Sadly, he was not on duty at that moment. He and some friend were just driving 75mph down a residential street is all.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 2:14 PM on November 2, 2006

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