A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit accusing GEICO of overcharging over two million car insurance policyholders early in the pandemic can proceed as a class action.
US District Judge Beth Labson Freeman earlier rejected the auto insurer’s argument that a group lawsuit over the supposed insufficiency of its ‘GEICO giveback’ program would create case manageability problems. She also rejected GEICO’s arguments that a class action would not be able to account for differences among policyholders – including the various time periods they were insured for – and would make calculating damages and adjusting rates retroactively more difficult.
The judge said a class action would be better than individual lawsuits, with the damages model the plaintiffs offered presenting an “appropriate percentage refund” over a length of time to address manageability.
The case stemmed from policyholders objecting to GEICO’s announcement that it would offer $2.5 billion of auto insurance credits – including a 15% discount on renewals – starting April 2020 to reflect how people were driving and getting into car accidents less often since the pandemic.
The complaining policyholders said GEICO reaped a windfall as the receivable credit fell ‘well short’ of the ‘substantial and full relief’ the insurer had claimed the credits provided, considering the lessened risks on the road, Reuters first reported.
The class action – Day v. Geico Casualty Co et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 21-02103 – would cover California residents who bought car, motorcycle, or RV insurance from GEICO between March 1, 2022, and now.
GEICO is also defending against a similar federal lawsuit in Chicago, where it previously convinced an appeals court to uphold the judge’s dismissal of the case.