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Progressive Insurance Stands Up For Killer Of Policyholder: UPDATE

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Flo, for Progressive Insurance

Flo, for Progressive Insurance

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UPDATED: Four times, and counting. See below.

If you're looking for a happy story to get you through the day, this isn't it. In fact, it's enough to send many folks back to bed, wondering if they can ever win against Big Insurance.

The details come from Matt Fisher, a member of the popular New York-based comedy troupe, Upright Citizens Brigade. But the story he posted yesterday on Tumblr is anything but funny.

On June 19, 2010, Matt's sister, Katie was driving in Baltimore, Maryland when she was killed crossing an intersection. All evidence points to Katie having the right of way, and the other driver running a red light, but as you'll see, that's not entirely important.

The key to this story is that the driver who killed Katie was underinsured

According to Fisher, the driver's insurance company settled quickly with Katie's estate. Fisher continues: 

[B]ecause the other driver was underinsured, that payment didn’t amount to much, but my sister carried a policy with Progressive against the possibility of an accident with an underinsured driver. So Progressive was now on the hook for the difference between the other guy’s insurance and the value of Katie’s policy.

At which point we learned the first surprising thing about Progressive: Carrying Progressive insurance and getting into an accident does not entitle you to the value of your insurance policy. It just pisses off Progressive’s lawyers.

Now, most of you are probably thinking, "Okay, then, just sue the pants off of Progressive." However, as Fisher points out, in Maryland, you can't sue an insurance company just because they refuse to pay out on a policy.

With no small amount of misgiving, Fisher's parents ultimately sued the at-fault driver, hoping that the lawsuit might convince Progressive to cough up the amount due. Instead, Progressive's legal team did something shocking: they defended the driver who killed Fisher's sister.

In other words, as Mr. Fisher eloquently says, "If you are insured by Progressive, and they owe you money, they will defend your killer in court in order to not pay you your policy."

Needless to say, a social media frenzy has begun a-brewing on Progressive's Facebook page and on Twitter. So far, the company has done little more than send a handful of canned tweets of sympathy.

Will Progressive cave to public pressure? Have any of you had appalling run-ins with your insurance company? You can share your thoughts and your stories below.

UPDATE #1: Progressive sent out this clarification about the story:

In response to today’s story involving Progressive Insurance, we wanted to share Progressive’s statement.

I’d like to take this opportunity to explain Progressive’s role in this complex case. First and foremost, our deepest sympathies go out to Kaitlynn Fisher’s family.

To be very clear, Progressive did not serve as the attorney for the defendant in this case. He was defended by his insurance company, Nationwide.

There was a question as to who was at fault, and a jury decided in the Fisher family’s favor just last week. We respect the verdict and now can continue to work with the Fisher family to reach a resolution.

--Chris Wolf, claims general manager, Progressive

Which seems fine. Except that it appears that Progressive isn't being entirely truthful.

Although the defendant was "technically" defended by Nationwide, news reports indicate that Progressive's in-house attorney, Jeffrey R. Moffet, assisted in that defense.


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Comments (12)
  1. I have been fortunate, knock on wood, in that I have never had to file an insurance claim. It's a sad fact, but insurance companies are not in the business of protecting its customers. They are in the business of making money. I think the best thing consumers can do is stay informed of issues like this and choose their carrier wisely.

    Even if Progressive concedes and pays the estate, it's unlikely to be a policy change (no pun). In other words, there are likely many others in the same situation who will be ignored/denied because they could not draw the attention of the public.
     
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  2. That's the way under-insured coverage works. In these cases, your insurance company becomes takes an adverse position against you to minimize their payment. The policy is written that way. Most insured do not realize this. My son was in a horrible accident that involved an under-insured motorist. My insurance company, a carriage trade insurance company, told me exactly what they would be doing and why. We came to a settlement that was not to the limits of the policy, but all things considered, was fair. Did I like it, no. Was the claim handled as would be expected from the wording in the policy, yes.

    I am sorry for the person's loss in this case, but the way the claim is being handled is exactly the way the policy is written.
     
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  3. He sure does have a response: http://mattfisher.tumblr.com/post/29432884849/today-in-response-to-my-blog-post-entitled-my
     
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  4. Wow. And here I thought Allstate was bad when they handled my claim!
    They'll screw you any way they can!
     
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  5. I have had similar experience with Progressive, clearly I was not at fault on 8/31/2009 when I was stopped at a stop sign and an on coming car hit me head on. Progressive claimed that the accident was an Act of God since the on coming driver had a heart attack. Damage was beyond belief for a Ford Focus to hit a Ford F350 head on, but it drove my truck back 24 inches. No settlement allowed, and I lost over 3 months work. Progressive fixed my truck (cost $33,000) only to have the engine catch fire due to it not being properly fixed from the wreck. Truck was in the shop for almost four months with no loaner. Never insure with Progressive.
     
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  6. "It is this 19th day of May, 2011, by the Circuit Court For Baltimore City, hereby ORDERED
    That Progressive Advance Insurance Company be and is hereby allowed to intervene as a party Defendant.
    That Progressive Insurance Company is GRANTED all rights to participate in this proceeding as if it were an original party to this case."
    So when Chris Wolf says, "Progressive did not serve as the attorney for the defendant in this case. He was defended by his insurance company, Nationwide. " He is technically right.
    In fact, though, Progressive did not represent the defendant - It got to act on its own behalf as if it were the defendant!

    I saw the above response on the Progressive FB page, and it appears to explain the situation very well. It also
     
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  7. I will drop Flo and Progressive like a bad habit if they don't do the right thing!
     
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  8. I have two policies with Progressive and will NOT renew with these deceitful scum. Sit on it and spin, FLO ! I'm also spreading the word and understand why National Media is not reporting this. They are concerned about loss of advertising dollars.
     
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  9. My question to all of this is where does an underinsured motorist policy become a life insurance policy? I thought the underinsured motorist policy was to cover the cost of medical bills incurred. In the case of a fatality wouldn't that be covered under another type of policy?

    As for misleading comments, are you really surprised???
     
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  10. I am in the process of renewing my auto policy and was checking other companies, including Progressive. This story took them out of the running.
     
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  11. Consult with a local independent agent. If professional and sharp they won't sell you the lowest price for garbage coverage. Most IAs dislike progressive due to their business practices and how they advertise, which ultimately diminishes the important decisions regarding insurance coverage and protecting people property and assets.
     
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  12. Industry has become very ruthless, This case sounds familiar. Ford Motor Company and my insurance company paid the passengers family 525K but my family walked away owing Ford Motor Company's legal fees of 130k. After further investigation I found out Ford could have corrected the defective cruise control switch for a mere .31 cents! The NHSTA let Ford pay a "fine" to delay a recall! I received my recall notice 9 months after my son burned to death.
     
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