UPDATE: See the update -- a statement from Progressive -- at the bottom of this story.
GBTV's Matt Fisher ("The B.S. of A.") is making headlines after posting an article on his Tumblr page entitled, "My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court." Fisher is a comedian, but his sister's tragic story is no laughing matter. While Progressive, a company known for providing auto and home insurance, touts its supposed "concierge level of claims service," Fisher paints a very different picture.
In what can only be described as an insurance nightmare elevated to the highest level, Fisher writes about his sister, Katie, and her 2010 death, which was the result of a car accident. The incident, which he claims had very clear and obvious fault, involved a driver running a red light and fatally hitting Katie's vehicle. While a settlement came very quickly after her death, it wasn't much, as the driver at fault was under-insured.
Now, here's where it gets interesting: Katie's policy, Fisher explains, would have required that Progressive, her insurer, pay the difference in funds. She had apparently paid for this form of insurance in case someone who was under or uninsured ever hit her (a sad reality that inevitably came to fruition). When this happened, the family assumed the situation would be rectified, but this was far from what unfolded. Fisher explains:
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. Here I address you, Prospective Progressive Insurance Customer: someday when you have your accident, I promise that there will be enough wiggle room for Progressive’s bottomless stack of in-house attorneys to make a court case out of it and to hammer at that court case until you or your surviving loved ones run out of money.
Which is what Progressive decided to do to my family. In hopes that a jury would hang or decide that the accident was her fault, they refused to pay the policy to my sister’s estate.
Out of a sense of honor, and out of a sense of the cost of my sister’s outstanding student loans, my folks opted to try to go after the money through legal channels. At which point they learned another delightful thing. In Maryland, you may not sue an insurance company when they refuse to fork over your money. Instead, what they had to do was sue the guy who killed my sister, establish his negligence in court, and then leverage that decision to force Progressive to pay the policy.
This seems horrible enough in itself, but the worst part of the scenario hasn't even been explained yet. See, while Fisher's parents had no urge to go after the other driver (they recognized that the death, though tragic and avoidable, was accidental), they were forced to do so in order to receive the monies owed to them.
After failed attempts to get Progressive to settle for what the family deemed a reasonable sum, the case went to trial. But we'll let Fisher tell you the most appalling element of all:
At the trial, the guy who killed my sister was defended by Progressive’s legal team.
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.
At the end of the court battle, Fisher says that the jury found the other driver to be negligent, but he describes it as extremely difficult for both him and his parents. While the comedian hopes that Progressive will finally honor his sister's policy, he seems skeptical that the company will finally make good on it.
For anyone wondering why Progressive would defend the man who killed Fisher's sister, consider this: Had the man been found not responsible or negligent, then no one would have had to pay the family following the death. Either way, a court finding that solidified that the individual was at fault would inevitably fall back on Progressive, forcing them to eventually honor Katie's policy.
Thus, it was beneficial to the insurer to defend the individual who hit her to ensure that they would not eventually have to pay out monies in the case (remember, the individual who killed Katie was under-insured from the start).
Fisher concluded his piece by encouraging people not to purchase insurance from the company. "When the chips are down, your money will have bought you nothing but a kick in the face," he says.
When approached on social media about the situation, on Monday, Progressive took an odd stance. Rather than ignoring those individuals who were angry over the incident or issuing one, solid statement and linking out to it, someone at the company sent the same, repetitive tweet out (16 times, in fact) to numerous individuals. It read:
This is a tragic case, and our sympathies go out to Mr. Fisher and his family for the pain they've had to endure. We fully investigated this claim and relevant background, and feel we properly handled the claim within our contractual obligations. Again, this is a tragic situation, and we're sorry for everything Mr. Fisher and his family have gone through.
Here's a screen shot of some of these repeat messages:
It will be interesting to see how Fisher responds to Progressive's Twitter claims.
In March, TheBlaze highlighted chairman of Progressive Insurance Company Peter Lewis and his connections to liberal billionaire George Soros, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other leftist causes. At the time, Lewis decided to step down from the Democracy Alliance, a club comprised of major liberal donors.
UPDATE #1: Around 2 p.m. today, Progressive issued the following update to the story:
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.
Claims General Manager
UPDATE #2: Despite a denial of assisting the individual responsible for the death, a simple search for court documentation shows that Progressive was given permission to participate on the side of the defense back in May 2011. The document reads:
It is this 19th day of May, 2011, by the Circuit Court For Baltimore City, hereby ORDERED
1. That Progressive Advance Insurance Company be and is hereby allowed to intervene as a party Defendant.
2. That Progressive Insurance Company is GRANTED all rights to participate in this proceeding as if it were an original party to this case.
This story has been updated.