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The Bad Behavior of Big Insurance Companies

Most people have problems with their insurance coverage. Their deductible is too high; their claims are routinely denied; their doctor was dropped from their health plan. These ordinary insurance woes, however, pale in comparison to Progressive’s public relations catastrophe of summer 2012.

On August 10, 2012, comedian Matt Fisher published a blog post entitled “My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer in Court.” The headline made waves through the social media sphere, and Progressive immediately became the subject of Internet ire.

This ire was justifiable, as Fisher’s story painted a picture of a corporation that was more than negligent. In 2010, the comedian’s sister Katie Fisher was killed in a car accident. According to witnesses, she had the right of way.

While the incident was not recorded by cameras, her case was bolstered by the fact that the insurance company backing the other driver settled with her estate immediately. Unfortunately, the other driver in the collision was underinsured. This meant that the payment given to her estate was comparatively insignificant. She had a policy with Progressive, however, providing insurance against underinsured drivers. At this point, Progressive should have paid off the remainder of her policy.

Progressive Refuses Payment and Stands Legal Ground

Instead of paying the value of her insurance policy, Progressive decided to put the onus of responsibility onto Fisher’s family. If they wanted the remainder of the policy, they were going to have to take legal action.
This was complicated by the fact that the accident took place in Maryland. In Maryland, you can’t sue an insurance company for refusing to pay a claim. Instead of suing Progressive, the Fishers had to sue the other driver in order to establish negligence. This legal decision could in turn be used to force Progressive to pay the remainder of the policy.

Hoping to avoid the rigmarole of a court case, the Fishers first filed a civil suit. Progressive refused to pay the full remainder of the policy, and they let the case go to trial. During the trial, the Progressive legal team defended the driver who killed Fisher’s sister. Progressive did not merely compound the grief of a grieving family. The company didn’t just refuse to pay a policy or force the Fisher family to take legal action. Progressive defended the man who killed Katie Fisher. 

Progressive on the Wrong Side of the Law?

On August 17, 2012, Progressive paid the remainder of the claim, which amounted to $75,000. Not every victim of a car accident, however, becomes the focal point of a media scandal. Not every woman killed due to negligence unites the social media sphere in anger. Many cases just like Katie Fisher’s fly under the radar every year.

The law firm of Bruce A. Hagen has experience dealing with the machinations of insurance companies. If you feel that you may be entitled to payment from your auto insurance provider after your accident, contact the law firm of Bruce A. Hagen today. Discuss your options with us in a free consultation.

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