Insurance company Progressive has been exposed to the double-edged sword that is the power of social media, after a comedian told a story about his sister’s death and the ensuing legal struggles with the company to make good on their policy on Tumblr, garnering the tale some unwanted Twitter and Tumblr attention.
Back in 2010, comedian Matt Fisher’s sister Katie was killed in an accident in Maryland that was, by most accounts, the fault of the other driver. In a Tumblr post, Fisher explains that Katie had a green light, and another driver plowed through a red one, striking Katie’s vehicle and killing her.
The tale itself is tragic and painful for any family, but what happened next between the Fisher family and Progressive, if accurate, is hair-curlingly awful.
The insurance aftermath of an accident is almost never easy to deal with, but the driver at fault in the accident was underinsured. Fisher’s sister’s policy covered the instance of an uninsured driver, but according to Fisher, the state of Maryland does not allow for suing an insurance company for failing to pay a claim:
“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…. 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.”
Horrible for the family? Of course. But Fisher continues, explaining that in order to avoid covering the insurance gap, Progressive actually stepped up in defense of the other driver, so that he would not be found at fault, and the company would subsequently be not responsible to pay out the claim:
“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.”
The post by Fisher about Progressive’s actions began to circulate on social media sites like Reddit, Tumblr and Twitter, and as Gawker points out, the company’s response perhaps made the situation worse by appearing insensitive and automated.