Category Archives: GEICO

GEICO Besting Esurance in Illinois

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

GEICO Casualty has been gaining customers in Illinois while its competitor, Allstate’s Esurance, has seen policyholder slippage.

Esurance’s total Illinois policyholders dropped 4% from the prior year to 49,317, according to its June 12 filing with the Illinois Department of Insurance. Nationally, its total policyholders fell 2% to 1.4 million from 1.43 million.

In contrast, GEICO Casualty’s Illinois policyholders grew to 212,029 policyholders as of March 31, which is a strong 15% increase from 183,644 policyholders.

In 2011, Allstate bought Esurance and Answer Financial from White Mountains Insurance Group for roughly $1 billion. Esurance sells auto insurance directly to customers online and through call centers. The unit has never turned a profit, and Allstate has responded by slashing its advertising budget.

© 2017 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

GEICO Reaches 15-Million Policyholder Milestone

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Fifteen million is a lot of anything, and for insurer GEICO it represents continued growth that has seen it become one of the dominant players in the auto, motorcycle and recreational vehicle insurance markets.

A Covington, Ga., couple called GEICO recently looking to purchase a new auto insurance policy. Little did they know that their 15-minute phone conversation with GEICO sales counselor Jon Hollingshed of Macon, Ga., would propel GEICO to a record-breaking 15-millionth policy.

“We are extremely excited that the 15-millionth policy was purchased here in Georgia,” said GEICO regional vice president Rhett Rayburn. “For the second time in 12 months, we’ve been a part of a significant policyholder milestone. This is a true testament to the tireless effort and hard work of our GEICO team here in Macon.”

Speaking with the couple over the phone, Hollingshed mentioned that they did their homework by asking the right questions, looking at coverage options, comparing quotes and reading customer reviews. “They reviewed different auto insurance companies but chose to go with GEICO because of our easy sales process, price discounts and mainly positive customer comments,” said Hollingshed.

As for being a part of GEICO’s historic milestone, Hollingshed had no idea that he had just sold GEICO’s 15-millionth policy. “When they told me the good news, I couldn’t believe it,” said Hollingshed. “My initial impression: what are the chances of that happening?”

GEICO (Government Employees Insurance Company) is a member of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies and is the second-largest private passenger auto insurance company in the United States. GEICO, which was founded in 1936, provides millions of auto insurance quotes to U.S. drivers annually. The company serves more than 15 million private passenger customers, insuring more than 24 million vehicles (auto & cycle).

© 2017 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

GEICO Hiring in Georgia

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

One Hundred new jobs are coming to the Peach State, as GEICO continues to grow its operations in Macon, Georgia.

GEICO’s Macon regional office is looking for local Georgians interested in joining its team of claims representatives.

“In the event of an accident, GEICO’s claims representatives are the first to assist our policyholders when they need it the most,” said Shawn Burklin, senior vice president. “That’s why it’s so important for us to have a great team of associates ready and willing to serve our customers. If you are up to the challenge, we want to hear from you.”

Qualified candidates who have excellent customer service, communication and decision making skills, experience with computers, a good work ethic, and are comfortable working in a fast-paced environment are encouraged to apply.

© 2017 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

GEICO Creates Virtual Assistant “Kate” to Answer Insurance Questions

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

If you have an insurance question just ask Kate, GEICO’s new virtual assistant. Available through the GEICO Mobile app, you can ask Kate a question and she will respond with quick, personalized answers.

“Interactive voice assistant technology has altered the way customers interact with their mobile devices,” said Pete Meoli, GEICO mobile and digital experience director. “Kate is very intuitive and has been programmed to connect with policyholders at a deeper level.”

Kate is available 24/7 to policyholders and makes self-service easier by answering questions and helping with their policy needs. She has been programmed to know about insurance and can provide customers with specific policy information. Customers can also initiate conversations with Kate by typing or speaking to her.

Meoli notes that Kate has a personal side and will reveal details about herself if asked. “We wanted her to be friendly with a natural interaction,” said Meoli. “She is always learning from our customers and will be an integral part of enhancing their experiences with GEICO.”

Kate is currently available within the mobile app for iOS, with plans to introduce her to Android policyholders in early 2017.

© 2017 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

GEICO Expands Ridesharing Coverage to 10 More States

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

To meet the growing consumer appetite for Uber, Lyft, Split and other on-demand services, GEICO has rolled out its ridesharing product to 10 more states (Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Delaware, Maine, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri and North Dakota). Coverage is already available in 24 states and the District of Columbia.

“The growing demand for ridesharing services is rapidly reshaping the country’s transportation landscape,” said Othello Powell, GEICO’s director of commercial lines. “As more and more consumers latch on to its popularity, we will continue to offer on-demand drivers the best insurance product at the lowest price to address their needs.”

Not long ago, rideshare drivers didn’t have many options when it came to auto insurance. Most policies only covered the portion of the trip that drivers were signed in to a ridesharing app and offered limited coverage options to one specific transportation network company.

GEICO’s ridesharing insurance product rolled onto the market last year, addressed the specific insurance needs of on-demand drivers. GEICO combined the coverage options of two separate policies into a single policy, eliminating the coverage gap between ridesharing and personal use whether or not if the driver is logged into the transportation network company’s app. GEICO also offers drivers the flexibility to work with multiple transportation network companies.

Powell noted that GEICO is constantly looking at ways to keep pace with the evolving nature of ridesharing services. “It makes a world of difference when we receive positive feedback from drivers who say GEICO is listening and responding to their needs.”

GEICO’s ridesharing product is now offered through the company’s Commercial division at a price typically much lower than taxi and commercial rates.

© 2016 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

GEICO Ridesharing Coverage Now in Half of the U.S.

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Building on successful launches all across the country, GEICO now offers its low-cost ridesharing product in 24 states. The product delivers comprehensive coverage to serve Uber, Lyft, Split and other on-demand service drivers.

The list of states include: Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Arizona, Iowa, Vermont, Wyoming, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, Texas, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Bridging the coverage gap, GEICO’s ridesharing product combines coverage options into a single policy that protects drivers during both ridesharing and personal use when the rideshare app is on or off, with or without passengers in the vehicle. The policy addresses the needs of on-demand service drivers and eliminates the cost and confusion of having two separate policies.

“Since its first introduction to the market last year, GEICO’s ridesharing insurance solution has consistently received positive feedback from policyholders on its affordable pricing and hassle-free service,” said Othello Powell, director of commercial lines. “As we continue to monitor the unique needs of ridesharing drivers, we’re even more determined to grow our ridesharing product to serve many more drivers in many more states.”

Powell noted that many policies may limit coverage options to one specific transportation network company and may only cover a portion of the trip.

“With GEICO’s ridesharing insurance, drivers are covered regardless if they are logged into the transportation network company’s app. They also have the flexibility to work with multiple companies.”

GEICO’s ridesharing product is offered through the company’s Commercial division at a price similar to personal auto insurance.

© 2016 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

GEICO Expansion in Western New York State to Bring 600 Jobs

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

New York governor Andrew M. Cuomo and GEICO Chairman and CEO Tony Nicely have jointly announced that insurer GEICO plans to expand it regional operations office in Western New York with an additional facility at 150 Crosspoint Parkway, Getzville, New York.

With this expansion, GEICO expects to add more than 600 new jobs in Western New York over the next six years. The company will also invest nearly $11 million to fit out and equip its current and additional offices to accommodate the new jobs.

“GEICO is immensely delighted to bring new career opportunities to the Greater Buffalo area,” said Tony Nicely. “We consider our associates to be one of our greatest assets. That’s why it’s important for us to continue to seek out and add highly talented individuals to our GEICO family.”

According to GEICO, the expansion brings new opportunities for careers in sales, customer service and claims service.

“It’s certainly an exciting time for GEICO and the Western New York area,” said Pionne Corbin, regional vice president. “We look forward to continuing to grow and better serve our associates, policyholders, and the local community.”

GEICO (Government Employees Insurance Company) is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, and is the second-largest private passenger auto insurance company in the United States. The company provided coverage for more than 14 million private passenger customers, insuring more than 23 million vehicles (auto & cycle).

© 2016 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Commentary: Self-Driving Auto Fatality Highlights New Era’s Need for Old Fashioned Insurance

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

The first death caused by a self-driving car not only showed the current limits of the new technology, and also highlighted the continued need for traditional liability insurance.

While some have questioned whether self-driving cars will need to carry the traditional package of coverages, the accident shows that while self-driving cars will likely make our roads much safer, they will probably never be accident free. There are just too many variables.

Tesla Motors has stated that the May 7 accident in Williston, Florida, occurred because the Tesla Model S’s autopilot sensors did not pick up a white tractor-trailer that drove across the highway perpendicular to the vehicle.

In a statement from Tesla the company stated that, “Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied.”

Killed in the accident was Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio.

In addition to Tesla, a number of automobile manufacturers, including Mercedes, BMW, and Audi are moving ever closer to self-driving cars with a host of collision avoidance features that aim to respond quicker and more precisely than a human operator can.

However, Tesla’s statement stressed the limits of its current technology.

“It is important to note that Tesla disables Autopilot by default and requires explicit acknowledgement that the system is new technology and still in a public beta phase before it can be enabled. When drivers activate Autopilot, the acknowledgment box explains, among other things, that Autopilot ‘is an assist feature that requires you to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times,’ and that ‘you need to maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle” while using it. Additionally, every time that Autopilot is engaged, the car reminds the driver to ‘Always keep your hands on the wheel. Be prepared to take over at any time.’ The system also makes frequent checks to ensure that the driver’s hands remain on the wheel and provides visual and audible alerts if hands-on is not detected. It then gradually slows down the car until hands-on is detected again.”

The End of the Driver as We Know It?

Bryan Reimer, a research scientist in the MIT AgeLab and the Associate Director of The New England University Transportation Center, doesn’t think the driver is headed for extinction just yet, or even in the near future.

“These technologies show a lot of promise, however, you are not going to get into a black box and say ‘take me somewhere’ at the consumer level,” Professor Reimer said in 2015. “New technologies will reduce fatalities and accidents, but it won’t eliminate them.”

There’s Still a Need for the Human Operator

“Higher levels of automation in the vehicle will still have humans in a supervisory role,” Reimer adds, noting that the sophisticated auto-pilot in planes still has human operators even with planes separated by thousands of feet of airspace. “The more automation, the more skill and training you need,” professor Reimer explains, pointing out the extensive training that pilots undergo. In the case of cars, “we have no equivalent educational structure in place.”

He also adds that with the close spacing of cars, which can be in fractions of a meter, and the variability of road conditions, it make roadways “a much more dynamic environment and harder to predict.” With the enormous number of cars on the road, often coming from different directions, it makes “the speed of decision-making much tougher.”

Accidents Happen

In addition, any self-driving technology will have to coexist with human drivers for a long time to come. “If everything was automated, it would be much easier,” Reimer adds, noting that we a tendency to both “over-trust and under-trust technology.”

A Wide Variety of Insurable Risks

Self-driving cars won’t mean the elimination of hazards. For example, there were 250,000 flood damaged cars from Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and in 2013 there were 699,594 cars reported stolen. Add to the mix everything from trees falling on cars, to vandalism, and there are not going to be many people that want to drive their new car without fire, theft and collision insurance.

There certainly will be changes in insurance needs, as changes in the ownership structures mean more car-sharing and ride-sharing scenarios.

The popularity of Uber and Lyft has already seen GEICO respond with ride-sharing insurance, and you can expect more policy innovations as insurers meet new consumer demands.

A Safer World that Still Needs Insurance

We live in a lot safer world than we did a hundred years ago. Commercial buildings have automated sprinkler systems and fire alarms, and homes have smoke detectors and burglar alarms, yet they both still have fires and break-ins, and they still need insurance.

It’s likely that in 2030 your car will still need insurance too.

© 2016 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

GEICO Files RICO Lawsuit in Florida

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

GEICO has sued five companies and six known individuals engaged in a complex scheme to submit hundreds of suspected fraudulent glass repair bills for payment.

In the case, Government Employees Insurance Company, et al. v. Jason Fry, et. al., filed June 9, 2016, in the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida, GEICO seeks to recover damages under the Civil RICO statutes and the Florida Consumer Protection Statutes. GEICO also seeks a declaration that any pending claims are not owed.

GEICO’s lawsuit alleges that customers’ information was taken or used without their knowledge or consent in order to create invoices for non-existent repairs, which were then submitted to GEICO. In addition to billing for services not provided, the suit alleges that GEICO was billed for services that had no repair value and were unnecessary.

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as the RICO Act, is a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.

The RICO Act focuses specifically on racketeering, and it allows the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes which they ordered others to do or assisted them in doing, closing a perceived loophole that allowed a person who instructed someone else to, for example, murder, to be exempt from the trial because he did not actually commit the crime personally.

“GEICO has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to insurance fraud. Fraud against insurance companies is not a victimless crime; it hurts consumers through increased premiums and can unfairly harm the reputation of legitimate companies,” said Ryan West, GEICO’s vice president of claims. “Legislative reform in this area is long overdue.“

West went on to say that GEICO will take decisive and immediate action against any individual seeking to commit fraud, and this litigation represents a preview of further lawsuits that GEICO intends to file to protect its customers and the public from the harm caused by those who engage in fraud.

© 2016 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

GEICO to Benefit From Strong Auto Insurance Growth Through 2020

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

While some people are already worrying about what the self-driving car will do to auto insurers over the long term, the global motor vehicle insurance market is looking forward to robust growth for at least the next five years.

This growth will benefit auto insurers, including Berkshire Hathaway’s GEICO.

In Research and Markets most recent edition of the “Global Motor Vehicle Insurance Market 2016-2020” report the company is forecasting that the global motor vehicle insurance market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.91% during the period 2016-2020.

The report covers the present scenario and the growth prospects of the global motor vehicle insurance market for 2016-2020. To calculate the market size, the report considers two types of end users:

• Personal insurance premiums
• Commercial insurance premiums

According to the report, a trend that is already impacting the market is the implementation of advanced analytics tools to reduce fraudulent claims. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), insurance fraud is the second biggest white-collar crime in the US after tax evasion. Advanced tools, such as big data analytics and geospatial analysis, are making it easier for insurance companies to reduce losses stemming from fraud claim.

The report also notes that a key growth driver is the mandate to buy insurance policies. A motor vehicle insurance covers any financial risk that can crop up while driving the vehicle. In other words, an insurance company will cover losses arising from theft, damages, or accidents – if such incidents are covered under the policy.

© 2016 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.