By on August 15, 2012

How far will an insurance company go to save money? Most people expect modern insurers to attempt to wiggle out of claims, use inferior parts to repair a car, or argue every possible technicality. How about defending in court the person who kills one of their insured clients, just to make sure they don’t have to come across with underinsured-motorist coverage?

Comedian Matt Fisher posted a blog yesterday detailing an extremely unfortunate progression of events.

On June 19, 2010, my sister was driving in Baltimore when her car was struck by another car and she was killed. The other driver had run a red light and hit my sister as she crossed the intersection on the green light.

…the other guy’s insurance company looked at the situation and settled with my sister’s estate basically immediately. Now, because 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.

…In hopes that a jury would hang or decide that the accident was her fault, [Progressive] refused to pay the policy to my sister’s estate.

…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.

Now my parents don’t harbor much venom for the guy who killed my sister. It was an accident, and kicking that guy around won’t bring Katie back. But kicking that guy around was the only way to get Progressive to pay. So they filed a civil suit against the other driver in hopes that, rather than going to court, Progressive would settle. Progressive did not. Progressive made a series of offers (never higher than 1/3 the amount they owe) and then let it go to a trial.

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 trial was a real shitshow for my parents, and I did not love it either. As it happens, the jury did find that the other driver was negligent, which, if justice or decency are priorities for Progressive, will result in them finally honoring Katie’s policy. At this point, I hope you’ll forgive me if I wait for it to actually happen.

This makes my personal State Farm horror story (best summarized as “factory-ordered SRT-4 with 7,000 miles which had never so much as been through an automatic car wash is broken into, State Farm’s recommended bodyshop puts 260 miles on the car, paints the door the wrong color, scratches every other panel through the clearcoat, breaks the intercooler water sprayers, bends the seat frame, and curbs the Mille Miglia wheels, and then State Farm’s representative declares that ‘in the opinion of State Farm, the vehicle was returned in excellent condition’”) look like a good solid reason to choose State Farm.

Once upon a time, Progressive was widely viewed as one of the “good guys” in the insurance biz. They didn’t automatically penalize people for tickets. They insured young drivers who wanted to operate high-performance motorcycles and cars. Even their ad campaigns made a point of embracing different sexual and ethnic identities. Between this situation and the company’s “Snapshot” device, however, it looks like the good old days are long gone.

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110 Comments on “Did Progressive Insurance Defend The Killer Of One Of Its Customers In Court?...”


  • avatar

    I think Flo is hawt.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    As in almost all cases, follow the money. It all comes down to “money”. Life becomes cheap…I hate Flo.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Death to Flo.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        superagc:

        Yes, AAA offers “UNINsured motorist” coverage, but not “UNDERinsured motorist” coverage.

        I realize these terms are byzantine for anyone not used to dealing with them.

        The distinction is critical though; better to be injured by a broke ass, UNINsured motorist than a responsible motorist with basic PL/PD of 20k/40k who is UNDERinsured, especially if they’re at fault and your injuries are serious — unless you have UNDERinsured motorist coverage.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Underinsured motorist protection is at least as important, if not more so, than uninsured motorist protection, for the very reason that basic, required insurance limits will do you no good if you or a loved one is injured, debilitated or killed in an auto accident caused by a driver who has 20k or 40k worth of insurance liability coverage, yet who is otherwise, for all practical purposes, not spectacularly wealthy AND hasn’t made themselves judgment proof (a topic for a whole different debate).

      And with the exception of those ‘hood’ areas where 1/2 the drivers are operating vehicles with no insurance coverage, the chances are far higher that one will be involved in a serious accident with an underinsured, versus, uninsured motorist.

      So make sure that your own insurance company even offers you the option of underinsured motorist coverage (only some do), because if you are able to buy it (and you should, given its relatively low cost), your own insurance company will have to cover you or your loved ones for any amount of damages exceeding the underinsured motorist’s deficient policy limits in the event of a serious accident causing physical injury or death.

      As someone with a deep knowledge of the operational methods & standard practices of the business model of insurance companies, public and private, there is nothing I could hear or read that would shock me. This incident, to whatever degree it’s accurately relayed by the media, doesn’t even rate on the radar screen.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        By the way, the rule that under these circumstances, the decedent’s insurance company (Progressive) can’t be sued is an idiotic but long-standing rule of evidence based on the notion that people hate insurance companies so deeply that it’s unfair, whenever possible, to even make reference to the fact that an insurance company is the one who will be making any payment on a judgment.

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        Please explain why I should pay the premium if the insurance company will never pay? Why should I go through the grief of suing, dealing with disgusting people, etc., for the pleasure of getting what is rightfully mine? Seriously, this is not a rhetorical question. My company makes me sign a waver that I decline uninsured and underinsured coverage. I have always wondered why. I have always elected not to buy this coverage because I think that the insurance company will not pay. Why am I wrong?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        They’ll pay if the beneficiary of such insurance or his/her legal representative can convince them they can pay now, or potentially pay much more later.

        Aside from that, there are still plenty of ethical insurance companies (USAA and Amica have been mentioned) that will do the proper thing most of the time. I’ve found State Farm, Zurich and Citizens to be quite ethical in most cases (not so much with Allstate, in my experiences).

        If such coverage isn’t purchased, there’s no obligation to pay such benefits in the event of a serious injury or death. If such coverage is purchased, one’s odds of having benefits paid to oneself or one’s loved ones increases dramatically.

        However, many auto insurers, such as AAA, don’t even offer uninsured motorist coverage.

      • 0 avatar
        SuperACG

        @ DeadWeight:

        I have AAA and I have the uninsured motorist rider, as well as health coverage in the event of a collision, my occupants are covered. I’m still on the hook for a $1500 ambulance ride which I refuse to pay.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        @SuperACG:

        Yes, AAA offers “UNINsured motorist” coverage (all insurance companies do), but not “UNDERinsured motorist” coverage.

        I realize these terms are byzantine for anyone not used to dealing with them.

        The distinction is critical though; better to be injured by a broke ass, UNINsured motorist than a responsible motorist with basic PL/PD of 20k/40k who is UNDERinsured, especially if they’re at fault and your injuries are serious — unless you have UNDERinsured motorist coverage.

      • 0 avatar
        SuperACG

        @ DeadWeight:

        Read your comment directly above mine:

        “However, many auto insurers, such as AAA, don’t even offer uninsured motorist coverage.”

        Your own comment stated UNinsured motorist coverage. I know the difference between UNinsured and UNDERinsured. It doesn’t take a Ph.D to figure that one out.

        With my experience, and the coverage I had at the time, I’m now glad that the person who totaled my car was UNinsured, and I got the value of my car, PLUS my deductible…but I was on the hook for all medical. I now have that rider on my policy.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        That was a typo, and you’re correct.

        I meant to write that many insurers don’t even offer UNDERinsured motorist protection, as you correctly point out.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    I have never had a bad experience with my insurer, USAA. In fact, they had gone out of their way to let me choose a repair shop where I told them the work was top-notch and reliable, and the claim ($$) difference vs cheapest shop would be small. The good guys are still out there, folks.

    ————

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      I have USAA, too. First-rate service. Excellent value.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        However, curiously… We also have a small boat, which we do insure. When we bought it, I naturally called USAA to arrange insurance and… their arrangement for boat insurance is to send you to Progressive.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        Yep. I have USAA and for insuring my KLR650 (hardly a high performance machine) they have alwys referred me to Progressive.

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      I have had USAA for years as well and have nothing but good things to say about them. The good guys are still out there, just not everybody has access to them (You have to have some sort of ties to the military).

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      USAA is very fair on reimbursement.. Where they fall down is establishing fault. They simply cave to the other insurer’s argument and pay up, leaving you with the blame. My wife and I have both been hit in the side at low speed and got the blame for drivers who clearly weren’t paying attention.

      Also, most of their reps are smart enough to remember the policies, but not actually understand or explain them. For instance, they won’t communicate by email, EVER. They put a note for you on their site, it emails you to sign on, and you have to go to their site to look and respond. No one knows why.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      We have USAA as well, and agreed, they are top notch. I tell everyone who can to sign up with them. And they are a great value, even my 19yo daughter, with 2 accidents, found them to be the least expensive insurance she could find.

      About the email communication, it is about security. If they sent personal detailed information to an email address directly, there is no way for them to control who reads it. By using thier site communication tool, they can be reasonably sure you are the one seeing the info.

      And FYI, they have one of the best, easiest to use mobile apps I have seen. I find it much easier to do things on my phone than on the website, including reading communications.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Don’t buy security excuse on emails. Maybe for credit card holders, but not for auto claims. There is no reason for the security. It’s a cost or legal reason that likely makes more sense than security.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I’ve been with USAA since before I retired from the Air Force in 1985, and never had a loss or claim, but I have never heard a bad word about USAA from those who had claims or losses.

      My son, a retired Marine, financed his 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 with them at 1.79%, and has financed his house and all other vehicles he owned with USAA over the years. He even got life insurance and homeowners insurance through USAA.

      Between USAA, the Pentagon Federal Credit Union and Navy Fed all my financial needs are covered. I don’t have to go anywhere else for anything, and they have known me since before 1985. That goes a long way!

      I highly recommend each of them.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Time to retire Flo, methinks. Continuing to juxtapose the demonic gaze of that cloying pseudo-sexual cipher with the real life nightmare this guy’s family has endured – and others like it – just seems…cruel.

    Of course, this story needs far more exposure for anything like a corporate makeover. If it’s not a top Google News story or trending tweet topic, Prog won’t feel any lasting burn from this fiasco.

    I also second NMGOM – USAA was my father’s and my father’s father’s insurance, and it’s mine as well. When a wayward octogenarian unilaterally decided that my ’91 Accord had to die, their service in the aftermath was prompt and professional. I was lucky in more ways than one in that situation.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      If you’ve caught some of their newer ads (as if you can miss them) such as the latest with the robot Flo trying to replace the real Flo, plus the alternate ads of the guy passing on the savings, I think they’re starting to wind down the entire Flo campaign.

      Thank god. I’m thoroughly sick of her. At least Geico has the ability to run a parallel campaign or two to the gecko at the same time.

  • avatar
    needsdecaf

    The snapshot device is insane. I am not sure who would trade their freedom for a couple hundred dollars kept in their pocket each year. From what I have been able to glean, the way the device penalizes you is draconian at best, and completely unrealistic. I’ve never been accused of driving like Miss Daisy was in the back seat, but the way I understand the device, you need to leave about 100′ of space from the car in front of you in order to stop under the g threshold the device uses to classify your driving as aggressive. In DC, that’ll get you honked at, at best.

    • 0 avatar
      mikedt

      My in-laws tried the Progressive snapshot device. Progressive turned them down. Seems they didn’t like my 80 year old father in-law’s jack rabbit starts and 3 g stops.

  • avatar
    raph

    See that Progressive – its a big mother f’ing middle finger hovering about a milimeter from my monitor.

    I picked them up in 2006 – was paying around 125 bucks a month for insurance on my then brand new Mustang GT, upgraded to a GT500 in the summer of 09 and they doubled my rate, then in the summer of 2011 I got caught in a local speed trap – managed to argue my ticket down to defective equipment and those bastards tacked on another 63 bucks a month.

    So I really did save by going with GIECO – Now I’m paying 97 bucks a month.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      So basically you’re angry that an insurance company saw you had a 500 HP muscle car, saw you got caught illegally speeding (“faulty equipment” my $%&) and raised your rates, and now you’re pissed?

      I pay $108 a month for my Progressive policy, which is appropoe considering my three foolish speeding tickets, the most recent of which being nearly 5 years ago. I don’t buy FIVE HUNDRED HORSE POWER vehicles to drive around the streets with, because I don’t feel the need to get in trouble.

      When we hit a deer on the Interstate a few months back, doing two miles an hour above the speed limit, the $13,200 of damage done to my ’12 Focus hatch was paid promptly and handled in an entirely professional manner.

      Were I to buy an unrealistically powerful for my daily commute vehicle and drive it around on public roads getting speeding tickets, I’d expect and deserve to pay $250 a month for insurance.

      • 0 avatar

        Please define “unrealistically powerful”. Plenty of V6 family sedans have ~300 HP.

      • 0 avatar
        360joules

        What kind of troll posts on a site for automotive enthusiasts that another poster drives a vehicle with excessive horsepower? Then posts an unrelated anecdotal shot about prompt insurance payment for striking wildlife when the original post was about a carrier failing to pay a reasonably related claim until compelled by subroggation?

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        A “troll” who finds it hilarious that a guy is b&&&&ing about the cost of his car insurance after both driving a 500 HP car and getting a SPEEDING TICKET.

        Break the law and your insurance will go up. That’s the biggest no-brainer of them all.

        And more to the point – I was pointing out that Progressive’s claims process has been great for us. Not saying this story isn’t horrible, though. If it were me, I’d probably be Progressive’s CEO’s front door, just after going to every major news carrier. That’ll get the problem solved.

      • 0 avatar
        whitejposu

        Ummm… Juff:

        1. Do you understand peak horsepower?

        2. Did you notice/care that raph’s rates were doubled based on vehicle choice; not 3 year driving history?

        3. Raph owned his new car for two years prior to a ticket.

        4. You only owned your car for a few months before you hit something while speeding.

        Based on the above, who should pay higher rates?

  • avatar
    bucksnort

    Progressive was ridiculously expensive when I insured two motorcycles with them. If you want to save money, avoid insurance companies with extensive media advertising strategies.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Infallible logic there, +1

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      Actually, that’s horrible logic. No advertising campaigns mean no expanding customer base. And a small customer base means a very high rate (or a very reluctant payout). Progressive has very few agents, so their selling expenses shift to media campaigns versus owning offices/paying commissions.

      Your rate was likely due to other factors that “Selling / G&A” expenses. How was your credit? Driving history? Debt load? Parking? Location? All these things influence your rate FAR more than selling expenses.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        I recommend reading twice before you use the word horrible. I believe your mistake was ignoring the word extensive.

        Certainly, more ads does not guarantee higher prices, but they must be paid for.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    I’m surprised the judge would allow this but, as their interests were congruent with the defendant’s, maybe that’s all that was necessary for the judge to accept the situation.

    The follow-up is interesting, too. Progressive will “work with” the Fishers to “reach a resolution.”

    Hey, Progressive, here’s an idea for reaching a “resolution.” PAY THE FAMILY.

  • avatar
    challenger2012

    Allstate Insurance story. On highway 36, in Texas, a woman reached down to get her pet dog while driving her car. She swerved into my lane and took off about 6 inches of the left side of my car. (I was driving my girlfriend’s Mazda 3.) The force of the impact knocked the Mazda 3 into a ditch and we rolled 4-5 times. The woman was ticked and admitted the accident was her fault. The Mazda 3 was totaled. The car was financed through Ford. Allstate gave Ford a check for less than the balance of the loan. Ford took the check. Two years later my girlfriend applied for a credit card. She sees an unpaid balance for the Mazda car loan on her credit report. No one at Allstate or Ford said a thing to us concerning this unpaid loan balance.

    My complaint is that I/we did not total the Mazda 3, the woman did. We did nothing wrong. If Ford did not like the settlement from Allstate, then sue Allstate for the difference. Again, I/we didn’t wreck the Mazda 3, the Allstate client did. Just by chance my girlfriend had PIP which paid a $1,000 per person in the car. If it had not been for the PIP, we would have lost even more money on the accident, since many items damaged were not covered.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      You’re insuring the value of the car, not the loan balance. They will happily offer you gap insurance, but you chose not to buy it.

      • 0 avatar
        challenger2012

        Imo You sound like an Insurance Agent. I forgot to mention, when I looked at the value for the Mazda 3, I used KBB, NADA, and an online site, and all three valued the car more than what Allstate did. I called Allstate and asked how they valued the car lower than what I found in the public domain. I was told Allstate uses its own evaluation process. Imagine that.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Allstate has twice offered me one third to one half what USAA did for the same damages to my car. While loan value has nothing to do with their liability, I would bet they underpaid on the value of the car.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        You may not like @jmo’s comment, but he is right. You insure the value, and ALL insurance companies perform thier own evaluation. For the tiny amount GAP insurance costs, its crazy to not buy it for any car you finance. The finance source usually offers it, as does the insurance company you use.

        Now, I have never seen someone make a claim and have it settled “behind thier back” as you described. At some point someone would have to notify your gf about the payout, and you can usually argue a little bit if you are not happy with thier offer, though you are not going to get a big difference either way. From your story I do not know if Allstate was your ins co or the other drivers, but if you mean it was the other drivers, then your insurance company covers your car, so if you didnt like the offer, you would go to them and explain what happened, and they would pay you and fight it out with the other company.

        Not sure about TX, but in FL PIP is mandatory. But I dont think anyone insures the contents of the car from damage, PIP is for medical coverage.

      • 0 avatar
        turbobrick

        The FL PIP thing is a freaking joke. Along with FL being a no-fault state is why you guys are getting bent over the sawhorse for your insurance premiums.

        In TX PIP gets automatically added but you can refuse it. You definitely don’t want to ever file a claim under PIP because they will jack up your rates for it.

        Loose property inside the car is not covered by your auto insurance, it just insures the vehicle itself and the people. I believe you have to file that against your homeowners policy.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a friend that had the same thing happen to her, she was under the impression she had gap insurance though. When she tried to get credit for a new car three years later, she had a charge off for the unpaid balance on her loan, which she was never notified of. So she had to get credit from a third party lender on a car she didn’t really want, but needed, and got treated like a credit criminal.

      • 0 avatar
        challenger2012

        Mr. MNM The PIP is indeed medical insurance. We each got $1000, for we both were taken to the hospital. We each had medical coverage from our work. We used the money to replace a destroyed baby carriage, baby rocker, etc. We also had our 8 month son with us. Here is where its gets even more frightening. We were dazed and confused as we climbed/crawled out through the broken windows of the car. Our son was in his car seat. Someone climbed into the car and got him. This person could have taken him, while we were still coming to our senses. We were in no state to think clearly, with cuts and scrapes, broken glass in our hair, face, blood and dirt. Also, all our personal belongings were in suit cases in the trunk. When the car flipped, all that flew out. Anyone could claim anything, since it was all over the place, just trash on the road and legally free to anyone.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      That is honestly your girlfriend’s fault though, why would she assume that Allstate paid off the entirety of her loan? Lots of people are upside down on their cars so if their cars are totaled they would still owe the balance. And I highly doubt that her loan company didn’t continue to send her bills, did she just ignore all her bills for the balance?!?

      • 0 avatar
        challenger2012

        @tekdemon If she or I had caused the destruction of the car, then we should be held accountable for the loss. But we did nothing wrong. Plus, how convenient that Allstate gets to set the value of the car, a value below KBB, NADA and a third source. (How about I damage your car the tell you want I will pay to compensate you.) I cannot remember the difference in the valuation, since this accident was over 10 years ago, but I would say between $800-1000. Again, if Ford did not like the settlement, then reject the check. Ford took the money and ran. How do I know, she had to sign the check over to Ford. There were no communications over any difference balance beforehand or after, etc. We were told by 2 attorneys that since no one was killed or seriously injured, i.e. loss of hand, leg etc., there was no incentive to sue in court against Allstate.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        “But we did nothing wrong.”

        It sure sounds like you did something wrong, or at least suboptimally, by (1) having negative equity in a car and (2) not having insurance that would account for that situation.

        In the absence of gap insurance, the amount you have outstanding on your loan does not influence the amount of your insurance settlement. This is the way it should be.

        Let’s say that you and I both own identical cars, purchased brand new for $20k. Then say that 2 years after being purchased they are both totaled in separate crashes that are not our fault.

        You paid cash for the car, so the insurer pays you replacement value for the car. Let’s say $10k.

        I financed the car for 60 months with little money down, so I still owe $15k, and I opted to not purchase gap insurance.

        Do you contend that the insurer should pay me more than they just paid you for the *same* car, just because I owe more on it?

      • 0 avatar
        challenger2012

        tekdemon There is a simple solution. Allstate provides us with a similar car and we continue with the payments. Sounds like the right thing to do, then everyone is as before the accident. But what Allstate offered could not possibly buy a similar car. As I mentioned, which you seem to ignore, is that Allstate set the value, a value below KBB, NADA and an online source. Allstate was not the top of value, not the middle, but the lowest evaluation of them all. Also, they decided how much other things were worth. A new $350 baby carriage suddenly is worth 100, Music CD’s at $15 become $3, a suit case of clothing $100. Or items damaged were not damaged enough to be covered, like stroller, which was bent, but still usable. It would be interesting to see what your response would be if you are unfortunate to go through what we did. I would like to see you stance then. You could show me your GAP insurance, and then they raise your insurance rate for using it. Personal belongs, like aftermarket Stereo, would worthless, power amps, speakers etc. Maybe you would get 25 cents for every dollar you spent.

      • 0 avatar

        Depending on the state insurers have to follow different rules on car value. Here in CT they require an average of book value and market value (we used to used a third party that used dealer sales records for confirmations) We also used to provide a list of similar cars for sale in the area that fell in to the settlement range.
        My guess would be the state you were in was much more lenient so Allstate pushed the value down, the other possibility is they took an over generous condition correction. We had a value come back low once so we got a DOI complaint, shortly there after the valuation group added 1800 bucks on to the value and all was settled.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Have been using the Gecko since the mid sixties without problems. Have not liked progressive for personal reasons for a long time. I’m sorry your family had to endure this tragedy. Nothing like a personal tragedy compounded by some A__hole trying to make dollars from your tragedy.

    Progressive, I too am extending a digit in your direction and will do all I can to badmouth your product.

  • avatar
    hands of lunchmeat

    I had progressive for six months, which i was quoted a premium and paid in full upon being given that quote.

    Three months into my policy, i receive a letter stating that I was misquoted and must pay an additional $400 to remain insured with them for the remainder of the policy term. I stayed with them about as long as a hot dog stays on a table in coney island on July 4th.

    As for the State Farm story, we all know what “authorized bodyshop means”.

  • avatar
    NotFast

    Sounds like a PR Disaster in the making. Awesome if this is true and Progressive is being exposed for what it is.

  • avatar

    Me and State Farm have gotten along great, even after I took all my cars off my parents insurance. Every time anything has happened, no matter which car it was, the repairs were done in a timely manner, and the parts were pretty close to OE standards. Even back when I was driving an even more redicilous car, I never had trouble with claims.

  • avatar

    I hate most insurance companies. They spend $199 fighting to not pay out $200 on a policy. I’ve actually watched them refuse to total a car, thinking they can still fix it cheaper, only to watch the repair bill rise past the car’s totalling value as the body shop struggles to make a car legal to put back on the road (no joke).

    I understand the idea of “protecting your investment” from their end, but they have become unrealistic in their pursuit of saving a buck or two. This stunt reaches an all-new low. It’s not just car insurance either. Health, life, homeowners, etc. From state-ordered extorion tactics to bait-and-switch, insurance companies are making so much money that they are one of the few recession (depression) free industries. And most of their money is “made” through these horrifying tactics. One of Washington’s most powerful lobbying groups will make sure that this never changes.

    On another note, did you eventually win or lose your fight on the SRT-4?

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      Warren Buffett summed up the insurance industry nicely in his latest letter to shareholders:

      “At bottom, a sound insurance operation needs to adhere to four disciplines. It must (1) understand all exposures that might cause a policy to incur losses; (2) conservatively evaluate the likelihood of any exposure actually causing a loss and the probable cost if it does; (3) set a premium that will deliver a profit, on average, after both prospective loss costs and operating expenses are covered; and (4) be willing to walk away if the appropriate premium can’t be obtained.

      Many insurers pass the first three tests and flunk the fourth. They simply can’t turn their back on business that their competitors are eagerly writing. That old line, “The other guy is doing it so we must as well,” spells trouble in any business, but in none more so than insurance. Indeed, a good underwriter needs an independent mindset akin to that of the senior citizen who received a call from his wife while driving home. “Albert, be careful,” she warned, “I just heard on the radio that there’s a car going the wrong way down the Interstate.” “Mabel, they don’t know the half of it,” replied Albert, “It’s not just one car, there are hundreds of them.””

      When an insurance company such as Progressive decides to expand their business, they have a tendency to fall into the trap of #4 – at the very least until they have gained enough expertise to stop making mistakes. While that is going on, they have no choice but to fight to pay as little as possible on claims.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah when I worked in insurance I loved the spend 40 to save 20 theory. There are many reasons for it when you get inside one of these companies. In the case of not totaling a car at a body shop its usually a failure of local management, or in proper training of the appraiser or well who knows. You also do get some appraisers who are really used to working with certain shops that fix everything and when a car goes to a high end shop it ends up costing much more. My favorite is when the deide to spend 40k defending a possible 10k payoff. This is usually done when they don’t want to set a president so they will instead hire experts and do everything they can so they can keep not paying those types of claims.

  • avatar
    morbo

    Yikes! You need to put this story on Consumerist.com and Reddit.

    Unfortunately all these companies will nickel and dime; some apparently more then others.

    Not sure in other states, but here in VA there’s a law that the damaged party has absolute right to choose repair facility. Geico ‘recommended’ I go elsewhere. GECIO paid $5k to fix my 300C at a competent shop after some coward hit it in a parking lot.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Its been on Consumer for a few days now:
      http://consumerist.com/2012/08/progressive-denies-defending-driver-who-killed-policyholder-in-crash.html

      I have Progressive, they have paid for two claims – one on my truck ($800) and one on my boat ($2000). Both times they were professional, fast and very reasonable. Your mileage may vary.

    • 0 avatar
      linoth

      Already was on Reddit, as well. The entire headline/story is a sensationalist traffic lure, and the guy crying foul is actually in the wrong.

      In order to collect the money he thought was due, he had to sue the party that had killed his sister in the accident. Because of Maryland laws and the structure of the lawsuit, Progressive is named as party to the defense automatically.

      tl;dr – Progressive did nothing wrong, but gee this story drums up traffic and attracts comments and debates.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Progressive is a progressive company. Everything they do is perfectly consistent.

  • avatar
    sexyhammer

    wow, that’s terrible. but we’ve all known that insurance companies only exist because they take in more money than they pay out. i hope it works out for the family.

    and on another note, the SRT-4 story with state farm immediately provoked the thought “at least it was only a Neon,” and i feel like a dick. not enough that i felt compelled to resist sharing it, but any time a company does that it sucks.

    my state farm coverage paid for a new rear quarter to be put on my integra by a body shop of my choice. the rest of the car still looked like shit with oxidized paint, some minor hail damage and dings but that quarter panel shone like a second fucking sun. and the work was done the right way, a panel was cut from a donor car and welded in. then again this was 10 years ago, i’ve been lucky enough to avoid accidents since then.

    • 0 avatar
      SuperACG

      Similar to my buddy’s ex-wife, but the opposite. They had a Jetta GLI, and she was NOTORIOUS for banging it up. One time, with all her friends, she exited the wrong off-ramp…no problem, back on the freeway! Only the off ramp had an incline, so she essentially “General Lee’d” back onto the freeway severely damaging the suspension!

      When the insurance adjuster came to look at the car, his words were “Shit, that’s not a Jetta, that’s a full-blown GLI!” Since the car was not inspected when the policy was written, it was just insured as a simple “Jetta” with no adjustments for options or engine. The insurance company saw their mistake and did pay to replace the upgraded suspension and tires.

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    Another case of failed fact checking.

    The original post claims Progressive defended the killer in court. Actually it was Nationwide, the killer’s insurer, who defended the killer in court. All one had to do was check the court documents and cross-check the defendant’s lawyer’s name to see he is, in fact, employed by Nationwide.

    My mom is an insurance agent, and I can tell you right now that in ALL cases, insurance companies seek to limit their liability. Is that always the moral thing to do? No.

    Then again, if insurers just handed out cash every time someone made a claim, we’d ALL be paying DUI-rates for insurance. As always, it is a balance between compassion, and practicality.

    “A Lie will make it halfway around the world before the Truth even puts on its shoes.” If I were Progressive, I’d sue the shit out of this guy for defamation.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      http://gawker.com/5934745/progressive-says-it-didnt-defend-man-who-killed-comedians-sister-nationwide-did

      But none of this really excuses the fact that Fisher’s family had to go to trial in the first place because Progressive — Katie’s insurance provider — refused to make good on her policy, which required the company to pay what the underinsured driver could not.

      Additionally, Wolf, the Progressive rep, doesn’t address the fact that Progressive’s in-house attorney, Jeffrey R. Moffet, reportedly assisted the defendant’s lawyer, or the fact that court documents clearly state that, on May 19th of last year, Progressive was granted an allowance by the Circuit Court for Baltimore “to intervene as a party Defendant.”

      ————-

      You seem to be disseminating Progressive’s lie. We’ll see if they have any luck getting it to displace the truth.

      • 0 avatar
        harshciygar

        Maryland law does not allow individuals to sue insurance companies.

        I do not like the law. I do not agree with the law. But that IS the law, and the fact is the OP even admits that his sister MAY have been partially at fault.

        Here in CT, it is almost NEVER a case of 100% fault. My friend struck and killed the passenger of a car driven by a drunk driver, without a license, who ran a red light. The judge determined that my friend was still “20% liable” for the death of the woman because skid marks indicate he was going approx. 10 MPH over the speed limit.

        Insurance in America is F-ed, but writing a lie-ridden blog post about how your sister’s insurance company supposedly defended her killer in court does nothing to improve matters.

        Progressive is in fact one of the better insurance companies when it comes to paying claims. Geico, on the other hand, will stand on its head and talk out of its ass to avoid paying a claim.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        All that is perfectly clear is that Progressive lied in their denial. Court records show their counsel was there acting to defend the driver that killed Fisher’s sister Katie. A full court transcript may become available showing if they did every single thing that Fisher lists in his latest update, and nothing he has done has been shown to constitute a lie. Progressive defended their insured’s killer to try to get out of paying for a policy they sold.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        harshciygar,

        If you read Fisher’s blog or the gawker article CJinSD linked, you find that Fisher writes, “At the beginning of the trial on Monday, August 6th, an attorney identified himself as Jeffrey R. Moffat and stated that he worked for Progressive Advanced Insurance Company. He then sat next to the defendant. During the trial, both in and out of the courtroom, he conferred with the defendant. He gave an opening statement to the jury, in which he proposed the idea that the defendant should not be found negligent in the case. He cross-examined all of the plaintiff’s witnesses. On direct examination, he questioned all of the defense’s witnesses. He made objections on behalf of the defendant, and he was a party to the argument of all of the objections heard in the case. After all of the witnesses had been called, he stood before the jury and gave a closing argument, in which he argued that my sister was responsible for the accident that killed her, and that the jury should not decide that the defendant was negligent.”

        Was Moffat simply on vacation and chose to spend it by sitting in a courtroom, pretending to be a lawyer? Or do you have sure knowledge that this is a fabrication by Fisher?

      • 0 avatar
        eamiller

        @harshciygar
        I have mixed feelings about how Geico handled my claim.

        Background: When pulling into a parking spot, I accidentally broke the oil filter casting in the block of my Subaru because 1. The curb was just the right height to hit only the oil filter (it hangs down in the front right corner of the engine)and 2. I had the underbelly pan off due to some repairs I had done the week prior and all the plastic pins had broken, so there was no warning until the filter hit the curb.

        Since this was kind of an odd claim, Geico initially hemmed and hawed about covering it. In the end, they did (though I had to cover 10% “betterment”, which I feel is a bit of a crock) and I got a new short block installed at the Subaru dealership. For what it’s worth, this is the only claim I’ve ever had from them (aside from a windshield repair claim in ’06) and my rates are still holding steady.

        I was not , however, impressed with my claim adjuster. He was extremely unresponsive. Calls would not be returned. I finally had to get the “national number” involved. Once I did, things got done a lot more quickly.

        Many times, knowing who to complain to is the biggest help when dealing with an insurance company.

        I had an incident years ago with Farmer’s insurance where my Integra was “lightly t-boned” by a Dodge Ram who was crossing stopped traffic on a US highway to turn into a hospital, I was in the far lane that was moving still, but he wasn’t paying much attention. Farmer’s had to replace the rear quarter panel on the car, which had a little rust forming near the wheel well. They wanted me to cover “betterment”, at which point I explained that I wasn’t at fault and I didn’t give a crap what they thought. Once I brought up complaining to the state Insurance board, the claim was covered in its entirety. It wasn’t worth his time to fight me.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with most of what you said and you’re right in saying if they automatically paid every claim, we’d all be worse off… but this seemed pretty cut and dry. Customer deceased or not made a claim of underinsured motorists to which she had a policy on, and the company dragged its feet to an extreme. Now maybe this type of claim is just a grey area of the insurance business and maybe they felt they were being high-balled on the amount, I can’t be sure. But if I have a contract to pay X amount premium for the promise to pay up to Y amount of coverage, and I get an estimate of damage which is in the range of Y, I had better be paid as agreed in the contract, otherwise its breach of contract. We have focused alot of anger on wall street and politicians as a society in recent years and I think we miss out on these scummy insurance executives and their immoral practices. If such businesses will not honor their agreements then they should be called on the carpet and sued/fined into oblivion.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Fisher also wrote, “One indication that the case was pretty open-and-shut was that the other guy’s insurance company looked at the situation and settled with my sister’s estate basically immediately.”

      In other words, Nationwide was pretty much off the hook at this point. What was their interest in defending the case? They had nothing more to lose but would now be paying a lawyer to go to trial.

      So, what induced them to defend the case? Did Nationwide start a defense because Progressive induced them to do so?

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        That makes a lot of sense. So, as Nationwide already settled, at the start of the trial they were on the hook for $0. Progressive was on the hook for say….$975,000?

        However, I guess I would have expected the cost of the under-insured rider would have priced in the fact that the at fault party’s insurer would have a huge incentive to settle and if forced to go to trial would mount the most bare minimum defense.

      • 0 avatar

        Look up “bad faith claim” and you will know why they sent a lawyer, thou this may not apply in MD.

  • avatar
    Syke

    I won’t deal with Progressive due to my experiences at the Honda/Yamaha/Can-Am motorcycle shop where I work. When a Progressive insured wreck comes in, they won’t allow our mechanic to do an accident appraisal. They send their own guy, and his figure is what they’ll pay. Period.

    And our mechanics usually aren’t all that happy regarding what they’re allowed to order to fix the customer’s bike.

    • 0 avatar
      harshciygar

      You can thank crooked mechanics and inflated repair bills for this.

      All too often, mechanics deliver incredibly inflated repair bills to insurance companies because either (A they want to pocket some extra cash or B) don’t want to be hassled with fixing a near-totaled car.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I can’t speak for body shops but in my industry (IT) when we don’t want to do a project a certain way (i.e. design a custom reporting solution using the awful and bug ridden 10 year old reporting code), we highball the estimates and convince the business to go in the direction we think is best (i.e. use SQL Server Reporting Services which is so much more modern and easier to use/maintain).

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        In my case, I’ve seen stuff that, as the motorcycle owner, I’d expect repaired that Progressive feels isn’t necessary. Kindly lay off with the generalizations. I know the five we’ve got here at the shop are honest. Mainly because I used to be the guy who had to go over the estimates with the customer.

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      When an ex-girlfriend got hit on her Honda Geico sent an adjuster to the shop. He and the Service Coordinator (chief mechanic?) looked over the bike together and came up with a list of what needed to be fixed. Seemed like a pretty good system.

      • 0 avatar

        Progressive has regional offices (I know many many ex employees) your mileage will vary with different offices some have managers that allow a nice easy logical workflow others are insane (like having to call you manager to approve a %50.00 supplement) This especially true of the power-sports insurance as there are less national objectives as there are on cars.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    I don’t know about this case but. I was rear ended by a Progressive customer two years ago. I got all defensive prepairing for the worst. No need, I called and they sent me to a place for a quote, I went to my local body shop, they asked who the insurer was, when I told him he smiled and said it should be no problem. The quote was made, I took it to my body shop and work began. The quoter said there might be hidden damage he couldn’t see till disassembly. There was, he went to the body shop and checked it out. Again no problem. The car was fixed, I have yet to spot any sign it was hit and the cost to me was zero. Oh and they paid for a rental car too. If my insurance company gives me a reason to change I will go to Progressive. I hope this suit is settled well, and feel for the family. Been there.

    • 0 avatar
      whitejposu

      Were you driving an alloy body 1960′s ferrari? 1969 gt40? Original buggatti? Cause that is the kind of money we are talking about here, and why progressive would send a legal team. Your carrola is little concern.

  • avatar
    challenger2012

    A difference in values occured between co-worker and his insurance company on a claim. As Mr. Harshcingar notes that “insurance companies seek to limit their liability”. But rather than write a nasty letter to the agent’s boss or higher ups in the insurance company claiming that the money didn’t cover the loss, (this is music to an insurance company’s ears), he wrote a letter claiming that the money received was more than enough to cover the loss and that the agent helped them in the claim process. Pay backs are hell. I can only imagine what happened to the agent.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    Here’s a bit more info.

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/progressive-meme-gets-halfway-around-the-world-before-the-truth-gets-its-pants-on/

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      I reposted this link below because I felt it was important that people actually read it instead of blindly raging about something they only get one side of.

      Thank you for posting it.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    State Farm has been great for me… bought a new Accord EXL (for well under invoice) in Houston, bounced a deer on the hood in Kansas. Safely drove the car all the way back to Boise and called my insurance agent (not the 1-800 claims number) that Monday. Comprehensive deductible, I picked the shop and it happened to be a “select shop”. Everything turned out perfectly and the shop went above and beyond. Had the car back in 2 days with new hood, new headlight (broken tabs), new fender (broken tabs). All new Honda parts too. Paint and work is lifetime warranted by shop and State Farm, in fact I brought it back after I noticed a little orange peel a week later. Wife loves the car and I try to find excuses to drive it.

    For every bad story there is a good story. I learned a long time ago, you work with your agent not some main office.

  • avatar
    tbp0701

    While this is nauseating, it is not surprising from what friends who have worked for Progressive have told me. From what I understand, if a Progressive customer causes an accident, and the company sees the other, not-at-fault driver as not being in a position to fight them, Progressive will refuse to pay and continually harass and blame the not-at-fault driver in an attempt for him/her to pay instead.

  • avatar
    mike978

    This article and some of the comments made me go back and check my policy. I have under-insured coverage (costs twice as much as uninsured coverage does). I am with Liberty Mutual and they have always been good to deal with during the 6 years I have been with them.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    Excellent experience with Traveler’s when I filed a “comprehensive” claim in 2010. Road debris somehow landed upon and dented the roof of my TL. The Traveler’s claims adjuster came to my (work) parking garage to take pics, get the details. They set up the body shop and rental with my preferred dealer…all very quick painless.

  • avatar
    chas404

    never trust your own insurance company. hire a lawyer and sue them for not paying the coverage you are owed. They are NOT to be trusted.

    I had an old guy hit my brand new car which was fixed improperly. Rather than pay me properly his State Farm insurance allowed me to sue the poor guy in small claims court. I beat State Farm’s young lawyers and won $6500.

    The main question is WHY would nasty State Farm allowed the poor guy to be sued for measly $6500 rather than just work something out with me for less?

    Because they don’t care. Always always get an INDEPENDENT shop to fix your car never NEVER one affiliated with Progressive or any insurance company!

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned AMICA. They are without a doubt the most top notch insurer there is. I have had them for over 25 years… made a few claims here and there and they have always been more than fair with the resolution. They gave more more than the values I found on the web for my Miata earlier this year when I totaled it. And when I hit a deer with my LS400 several years ago, they covered it even when the damage turned out to be double the adjuster’s estimate once the body shop get into it (yes, the adjuster came out and re-estimated it, they didn’t just take the shop’s word). Had a couple of homeowner’s claims that were handled just as well.

    Maybe reason we don’t hear so much about them is that they are smaller than USAA, and apparently hard to get — very choosy about their customers. But once you get an AMICA policy, you never let it go.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Mr. Fisher’s claim that Progressive represented the opposing party sounds bogus.

    But what isn’t bogus is that the trial probably wasn’t necessary in the first place, since the liability of such a case was clear. (If a driver blows a light and kills someone, one would reasonably expect 100% of the liability to go to the driver of the vehicle that ran the light.)

    Progressive would have used the trial primarily as a stall tactic and negotiation tool. First, they tie up the settlement in the court, to create delays in the settlement process. Then, when the court comes back with a predictable verdict, then they hem, haw, and start negotiating the damages.

    You glibertarians who think that corporations are perfectly trustworthy ought to take note. This is the very sort of outcome that “tort reform” produces. Companies who pay their lawyers by the hour or by the case are free to do what they want; it’s the little guy who can’t afford to pay by the hour who ends up getting hosed.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Who ever said corporations were trustworthy, at all? A corporation is nothing other than a bunch of people – just like a government in trustworthiness.

  • avatar
    SuperACG

    I learned my lesson about cheap insurance in the mid-90s when I started college. I didn’t have cheap insurance, I simply saw a white late-80s BMW 7-series with rear-end damage. The damage was done quite a while ago, as there was visible surface rust on some of the creases in the quarter panels. On the trunk lid, using the stick-on letters you buy at the hardware store, the following was spelled out:

    MERCURY INSURANCE SUCKS

    I laughed, since this company advertised on daytime TV during all those worthless talk-shows that polluted the airwaves in the 90s. Glad I’ve been with AAA since 1995.

    (I learned my lesson on cheap tires a few years later)

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      There are two kinds of people; those who are sufficiently insured against loss of property and risk of injury or death, and those who wish they had been- after a loss, injury or death has occurred.

  • avatar
    Alex the guy with the Accord Coupe

    Much of this is dependent on state law. In Mississippi, for example, uninsured motorist coverage is statutorily also underinsured motorist coverage. We are not a no-fault state.

    I engage in a good deal of insurance coverage litigation. It is a cast iron bitch, and makes sense only to lawyers, judges, and insurance companies.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I used to be an adjuster for Progressive on the coverage issue side and my territory covered MD, DC, and VA and the first time I read this I knew something wasn’t adding up. And please don’t let this sound like I am defending Progressive as a company.
    Some folks are obviously forgetting the #1 rule of Internetting: Don’t put all your faith in the writer of a blog post.

    I was waiting for more info and TexasAg03 posted the following link earlier that has everything you need to know and I feel needs to be reposted.

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/progressive-meme-gets-halfway-around-the-world-before-the-truth-gets-its-pants-on/

    The main thing you need to take away from all this is the following quote:
    “Fisher is incorrect about one thing. The underinsured motorist coverage does not mean that Progressive is liable for the difference between whatever the other guys insurance company paid and “the value” of his sister’s policy. It means they are liable for the difference between what the other insurance company paid and the actual damages suffered in the accident.”

    If you get in a wreck and you are injured and have to use your policy for whatever reason, say you broke your arm and it cost $25k in bills, you don’t get all $100k of your policy if that’s your limit. The same rule applies if you the insured party dies. Once the medical bills and funeral are paid for and the car is paid for the auto insurance company has covered their obligation. Anything else, like a mortgage or student loans, would be covered by life insurance.

    • 0 avatar

      Not always it again depends on the state and the insurance policy, in this case they were looking to extend the liability insurance of the other driver which was triggered by his negligance, at which point the value of life would be considered as part of the liability in many cases this would trigger a max payout, but as said before this varies from state to state.

      • 0 avatar
        LJD

        I agree with you mopar4wd. If I was handling a fatality claim, I would pay up as much as I could. I don’t know if there is a manager in my office who would disagree. Loss of life is the biggest loss.

  • avatar
    LJD

    Me and a coworker were discussing this and are still confused why Progressive handled the claim in the way they did. In my office, if you have a fatality claim, regardless if it’s your own policy holder or someone killed by the policy holder, you pay as much as you can. No need to go to trial, no need for mediation. I can’t imagine the underinsured limits would be so high that anyone in their right mind would balk at paying up. But Progressive doesn’t seem to handle claims the way my company does. If my boss told me to fight it out in court to let a jury decide I would walk out the door. Not all insurance adjusters are scum.
    The issue about the defendant getting represented by Progressive is just how the system works in that state. That doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is why Progressive felt the need to let it go to trial. We’ll never know what exactly they were thinking though.
    I always feel bad when I hear about bad claims stories. At least I know that I’ll never screw anyone over on a claim.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I’ve had nothing but good service from State Farm. They really helped me out when I was in a very bad wreck about 10 years ago. I got a check to buy glasses, and a check for $500 just because the body shop was taking so long to fix my truck and on top of that, they screwed several things up while doing it. The only real mystery to me was why they spent more than the $15,000 my truck was worth to fix it! As far a Allstate goes, I’m not happy with them at all. I can’t get into it here, but they have pretty much lost my business after they denied a claim I recently made on damage to my home.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      A lot of people rag on State Farm, but they’re actually pretty reputable and they do an admirable job of handling claims, IMO.

      Allstate, however, just as you state….pure assholes. Their CEO literally said a few years ago that he was declaring a “scorched earth policy” on trial lawyers, and implied that if customers were collateral damage, oh well.

      I’ve yet to hear a complaint about Amica or USAA, with USAA’s customers raving about how fair they are, but then again, USAA is only available to a certain segment of the population.

  • avatar
    hifi

    Okay, good to know. I guess I’ll never go with Progressive.

  • avatar
    AJ

    With State Farm, although they want for you to use one of their “preferred” repair shops, you can take it to anyone you want. However as I learned last, they only pay for basic repairs.

    Case in point, a door needed to be sanded and repainted to match a repaired quarter panel. But State Farm only paid the shop that I took it to, to paint over the door (no sanding). The shop however did sand the door as it should have been as they don’t cut corners. The shop’s owner told me that a “preferred” shop would have not done so. Their estimator also did not include replacing several cosmetic pieces, which the shop had to call them about.

    I also have an auto body shop in my family (out of state) and they confirmed that this is common with insurance companies, and that shops that don’t put up with their cutting corners don’t get approved as a “preferred” shop.


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