With a title as provocative as "My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court," comedian Matt Fisher's Tumblr post was bound to get attention.
And that's a good thing: Fisher details the kind of bureaucratic insurance company nightmare that sounds too awful to be real.
In June of 2010, his sister Katie was killed in a car accident. She had a green light and the other driver ran the red — fault was clear. The other driver's insurance company settled with Katie's estate immediately, but because the driver was underinsured, the payment was not much. Based on the Progressive policy Katie had purchased, Progressive was required to pay the difference.
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.
Progressive refused to pay, which meant Katie's parents had to pursue legal action. But in Maryland, you can't sue an insurance company for denying compensation. The parents' next move was to sue the other driver — something they did not want to do — just so they could establish his negligence and force Progressive to pay Katie's policy.
That's when things took a turn for the "you've got to be fucking kidding me."
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.
Incidentally, the other driver was found to be negligent, which means Progressive will be forced to pay at some vague point in the future. That's after putting the Fisher family through a tremendous amount of emotional and financial strain.
OK, insurance companies are evil. This is, sadly, nothing new. But Matt Fisher's documentation of such an extreme case got the internet's attention — his post was reblogged, tweeted, and shared, until Progressive was finally forced to respond.
They did an impressively crappy job of it.
Here is the automated response tweeted from Progressive's account:
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.
I say automated, because this was tweeted over and over again to Progressive's critics. No variation, just the TwitLonger link. As of this writing, it has been posted 16 times.
It doesn't help that Progressive mascot Flo's smiling face is next to each copy-pasted tweet. Though surely unintentional, it adds insult to injury.
This is kind of disgusting and heartless.