Progressive Insurance Stands Up For Killer Of Policyholder: UPDATE

August 14, 2012

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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