No stranger to publicity, Progressive Insurance and their spokeswoman, Flo, have certainly been getting a lot of it in the past few weeks. However, as a contrast to their upbeat commercials, Progressive is currently caught in a hailstorm of negative news articles and social media postings stemming from a case that went viral.
Matt Fisher, a comedian from New York, lost his sister Katie to a fatal car accident. The other driver’s insurance paid out $25,000 on his policy with no argument, as he ran a red light. Katie’s family then went to Progressive for the difference in the policy amount, a total of $75,000, as she had uninsured/underinsured driver coverage. Here is where things get messy. Progressive Insurance refused to pay on the grounds that Katie could have been at fault. There were conflicting eye witness accounts, one from someone uninvolved in the crash, and another from Katie’s passenger who suffered from severe memory loss, and whose statement wasn’t taken until months later. Katie’s passenger claims Katie was at fault and Progressive used this information to deny Katie’s family.
In order for Katie’s family to receive the benefits of her insurance policy, they had to sue the other driver to prove that he, not Katie, was at fault, an ordeal they had originally planned to avoid. Progressive then sent a request to the court to become a defendant in the case. In Florida, the law states that a policyholder, whose insurance company is unlawfully withholding their uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, must sue the insurance company directly by filing a Civil Remedy Notice of Insurer Violation.
Frustrated with how Progressive was handling the case, and how they were treating his family, Matt Fisher took to his blog. In it, he explained how Progressive’s legal team was basically defending his sister’s killer to get out of paying out on her policy. His blog went viral and the social media storm began. Along with several other news articles that have been written, current Progressive customers and other consumers have taken to Twitter and Facebook to condemn the way the company handled it and vow to either switch providers or never bring their business to them. Studies are showing that people are following through. More than 1,000 customers dropped their coverage between August 14th and 16th. This graphic shows how the number of people talking about Progressive online, has jumped by at least 20,000 people.
Unfortunately for Progressive, the issues didn’t stop there. The people responding were only further infuriated by their response to criticism. Progressive took to their own blog saying that while they were not defending the other driver, they had the right to defend themselves, because there was confusion as to who was at fault. There was also a robot-like tweet sent back to anyone who wrote about the Fisher case, which only made matters worse.
If this case shows anything, it is the power that the Internet and social media have on public opinion. It also makes it clear that Insurance Companies are not always what they seem, and don’t always have their clients (or their families) best interests in mind. The only people who truly understand the idea that the insurance company is not your friend, no matter how loyal of a customer you’ve been, are those that have been involved in a personal injury suit. Property damage claims are settled much simpler than when injuries are involved. Fisher’s blog is the first extremely public outcry against the actions of Insurance Companies, and their dealings with injured policyholders. It seems that the upbeat commercials will not outweigh the negative public opinion that is now surrounding this case.
Difficult insurance claims are more common than you’d expect. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, and aren’t getting the benefits you are lawfully entitled to, you may need the assistance of an attorney, in a personal injury case. Contact the Coye Law Firm, for a free consultation on your case.