A gecko-themed car with Geico branding
Wikimedia Commons | Mike Mozart

Geico To Appeal $5.2 Million Settlement To Woman Who Caught STD In Car

Insurance provider Geico has been ordered to pay out a multimillion dollar settlement after a woman contracted a sexually transmitted disease in a car.

Missouri's Court of Appeals says the insurance provider is liable because the STD was contracted in a car covered by a Geico policy.

Geico is contesting the decision in a federal court, contending that their policy doesn't cover STDs.

It's a bizarre story.

Geico advertisement on car in Florida
Wikimedia Commons | The Eloquent Peasant

According to court documents, the woman, who's identified as M.O., first informed Geico that she'd be seeking damages back in February of 2021.

The issue at hand was the fact that the woman contracted the STD during a sexual encounter in a car covered by a Geico insurance policy.

During the steamy encounter, she says she contracted HPV.

Evidence of sex left in the dust on a car's hood
reddit | [deleted]

HPV, or the human papillomavirus, is a virulent type of STD that can result in all sorts of nasty side effects. While many infections clear up on their own, anyone who knowingly passes on HPV (or any number of other sexual infections), can be found criminally responsible.

The woman's sex partner knew he had the STD.

Major capsid protein L1 pentamer, Human papillomavirus 11
Wikimedia Commons | Bishop, B., Dasgupta, J., Chen, X.S

M.O. had consensual sex with the man in his car (remember, the car that was covered by Geico). The man was also found liable in the suit, as it's alleged that he knew he had HPV, failed to disclose it to M.O., and engaged in unprotected sex.

It took awhile for the case to make its way through the system.

Interior of an empty courtroom with a U.S. flag
Unsplash | Robert Linder

Geico challenged the suit, saying it should be tossed out because their insurance policy doesn't cover STDs. Eventually, the case wound up in the state's Court of Appeals, where a three-judge panel concluded that the ruling against Geico was justified, and that the insurer did not have the right to relitigate at the state level.

Geico might not have to pay.

Geico gecko gif
Giphy | GEICO

It's no surprise that the insurer is still fighting the ruling, given that the $5.2 million payout is pretty significant.

After exhausting their options in Missouri, Geico's next move is to challenge the decision federally.

It's a landmark case.

Scales of Justice statuette
Unsplash | Tingey Injury Law Firm

U.S. Magistrate Judge Angel D. Mitchell wrote that the case may change the nature of car insurance.

"This case presents novel and potentially important issues about whether an insurance carrier can be held liable under such policies for the consequences of two adults voluntarily having unprotected sex in the insured's automobile," Mitchell explained. "Interpretation of these policies could have far-reaching implications for other policies with similar terms."

At its heart, the case is about insurance policies and what they can reasonably be expected to cover.

Insurance policy paperwork with model car, magnifying glass and paper money on top
Unsplash | Vlad Deep

Geico contends that the consequences of sex in an insured vehicle should not be attributable to the insurer, while M.O.'s suit — which, again, has been upheld after challenges — argues that if something happens in an insured vehicle, the insurer can be held liable.

We'll see what happens next.

The United States Supreme Court from the outside
Wikimedia Commons | Kurt Kaiser

Geico clearly intends to exhaust all legal avenues in this case, and it will likely take some time for a federal ruling to be handed down. While $5.2 million is a lot of money, the precedent established by this case could cost insurers far more down the line.

What do you think?

Geico's gecko mascot in close-up of face, with a slightly open mouth
Facebook | GEICO

Pretty much all of us see car insurance as a policy to protect us in case of a car accident, but this case establishes that car insurance can potentially cover much more.

What do you think of the ruling? Could it affect your future insurance claims? Make sure to let us know in the comments.