Let's get this straight. Ricky Melendez is on his way to work before dawn and gets hit by kids speeding in a stolen car. He suffers serious injuries and his car is totaled. And Geico says it's protecting him by paying out his $20,000 policy to families of the teens who hit him?
That's as believable as the Geico gecko and not nearly as funny.
There's something fundamentally wrong with this picture. Melendez was on his way to his job at a grocery about 4 a.m. on Aug. 6 when he was hit by a speeding stolen Ford Explorer at Tampa Road and U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor. Authorities say the Explorer's lights were out and it went through the intersection at 112 mph. Three of the four kids inside were killed, including the driver.
And Geico is paying $20,000 to the families of the kids from Melendez's insurance?
No wonder Melendez is upset. Geico claims it is protecting its policyholder by reducing the chance he could be sued by the families. That seems like an awfully remote chance, given the facts. What the insurer is doing is protecting itself, and its promise that Melendez's premiums won't be raised rings hollow.
This is the problem with insurance and the legal system. Insurance payments are too often seen as the cost of doing business rather than as legitimate compensation for harm caused by the insured. That makes rates for everyone go up. And in this situation, there hasn't even been a lawsuit filed.
If state legislators believe Geico is right, this is the perfect argument for tort reform. Otherwise, perhaps some new car insurance regulations are in order.