Can 15 minutes give you $1 million from car insurance after you get the human papilloma virus (HPV) from car sex? That’s not how the GEICO commercial goes. But according to Debra Cassens Weiss writing for the American Bar Association (ABA) Journal, a woman has “demanded $1 million from GEICO” after a sexual romp in an automobile allegedly left her with more than a steering wheel imprint. She has claimed that carnal knowledge in a car, or more specifically hot and heavy in a Hyundai, gave her HPV.
October 4 court documents from the district of Kansas used the initials M.O. for the woman and M.B. for the person who may have been her back seat driver, so to speak. M.B. was the owner of the 2014 Hyundai Genesis that served as the makeshift bed. The whole sexy time stuff between M.O. and M.B. began in November and early December of 2017 and included unprotected sex in the car. In this case, “unprotected” didn’t mean without car insurance. M.B. had two GEICO insurance policies. One was a Kansas Family Automobile Insurance Policy listing the Hyundai Genesis. The other was an umbrella policy, meaning personal liability insurance that covers claims beyond those covered by auto insurance and not insurance that covers lost umbrellas. Instead, “unprotected sex” in this case referred to sex without using barrier protection such as a condom.
According to the U.S. District documents detailing the GEICO vs. M.O. and M.B. case, M.O. claimed that M.B. had not told her about his HPV diagnosis or used protection during their sexy times even though he knew that he was carrying the HPV. However, it’s not clear whether this may have been more of a HPV, yeah you know me, situation. M.B. has claimed that he told M.O. “on three different occasions that he had been diagnosed with HPV-positive throat cancer.”
Regardless, M.O. reportedly was diagnosed with anogenital HPV during a November 2018 routine gynecology exam. “Anogenital” is a quick way of saying “affecting your anus and your genitals,” when you may be in a hurry such as at a supermarket check-out line and don’t have time for pauses and conjunctions. HPV infection of your anus and genitals can result benign lesions such as warts in those areas but also can eventually lead to malignant lesions such as cervical cancer or anal cancer in that general region. The court document indicated that “She later learned that she contracted the virus from M.B.”
While car sex can put you at higher risk for getting a gear stick in the rear, it’s not clear how the act alone may put you at higher risk for HPV. Typically, you can get HPV from direct intimate physical contact with person who is infected with the virus and not from a car. In other words, if you are wondering whether you can get HPV while riding in car, it is important to distinguish what specifically you mean by “riding.” HPV can live in the epithelial cells that line the surface of your vulva, vagina, cervix, and penis, as well as your mouth and throat. These body parts tend to be high utilization areas during sex. You won’t often hear someone say, “let’s have sex but avoid using our vulvas, vaginas, penises, mouths, or throats, however many of each happen to be present.”
To avoid getting infected with HPV, you don’t have to necessarily avoid having sex. Instead, take different precautions. First of all, ask key questions before having sex. “Do you have car insurance” is not necessarily one of these key questions. Rather, get to know your potential partner and his or her history of sexual partners and sexually transmitted infections before you do the nasty. If you have to say, “what was your name again,” after having sex, you probably aren’t delving deep enough prior to such an encounter.
Secondly, limit the number of sexual partners that you have. You may wan to dial things down a bit if someone were to ask you the number of partners that you’ve had and you would have to respond, “you mean, since Wednesday?”
Third of all, use condoms whenever possible. This means while having sex and not wear a condom all day long. A caveman can do it in car or elsewhere but that caveman and anyone else with a penis should use a condom while doing so.
Finally, get the HPV vaccine when you are eligible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting vaccinated against HPV at ages 11 or 12 years. You can start the vaccination series as early as age 9. If you are already past this age, you should still get the vaccine as long as you are 26 years and younger. As I have covered for Forbes previously, HPV vaccination can prevent very preventable cancers like cervical cancer.
So how the heck did a car insurance company get pulled into this case? Well, look like on February 25, 2021, M.O. sent GEICO a letter that stated the following: “Here’s the Petition that will be filed against your insured, [M.B.]. Before doing so, we have been authorized to make one final attempt to resolve [M.O.’s] claims against your insured for the applicable limits of $1m. Let me know.” Ending such a letter with “let me know” is interesting. It’s not as if the letter were asking, “hey, we’re having hot dogs and Netflix this weekend, are you interested? Let me know.”
Then later this year, M.O. and M.B. reached an agreement that M.O. would be awarded $5.2 million. Here’s the twist though. This agreement limited M.B.’s liability to M.O. and instead stipulated that M.O. can collect the award “if at all, only from GEICO.” GEICO subsequently said that it didn’t even know about this agreement until afterwards.
GEICO has countered that its insurance policy should not cover such a situation. You may use your car to hit on someone to subsequently have sex but that’s not quite the same as physically hitting someone with your car. Moreover, GEICO has pointed out that M.B. and M.O. had sex in other places besides the car. So unless you have a “have sex only in the car” relationship, it can be difficult to pinpoint where exactly HPV transmission may have occurred after you’ve had sex multiple times. It’s not as if a bell rings when HPV has gone from one person to another. Furthermore, there seems to be debate over when exactly M.B. knew that he was infected with HPV.
It’s not clear how the legal claims and counter-claims will play out between M.O., M.B., and GEICO. But one thing’s for sure. While GEICO may offer “Real Service, Real Savings” and a talking gecko, don’t rely on any type of car insurance to protect you against HPV. Instead, take real precautions.