If you’ve been paying attention to the national media in the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard of the Katie Fisher case in Maryland. Tragically, Katie was killed in a car accident, and her brother Matt brought to light an issue that has lit up social media and Progressive’s claims department. With the attention focused on one of our companies, we decided to discuss the issue. Since a settlement has been reached, we are now able to present both sides of the story, and then our take as insurance agents on the issue as we see it.
First,Matt Fisher’s blog post “My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer in Court”: http://mattfisher.tumblr.com/post/29338478278/my-sister-paid-progressive-insurance-to-defend-her.Secondly, Progressive’s response to the situation after settlements had been reached: http://www.progressive.com/understanding-insurance/entries/2012/8/16/update_on_the_kaitl.aspx.It’s a messy situation, it’s tragic and there’s a good bit of state-specific policy information that came into play.
After looking at the whole story (and speaking with our contact at Progressive), it sounds like Progressive did have to follow the law in Maryland. Maryland has a law that, while only 10 years old, deals directly with cases involving under-or uninsured drivers. Essentially, you have to be 0% at fault to receive a settlement from Progressive under that particular piece of your coverage. Many states, like Washington, assign liability by percentage – so you could be 32%liable and the other driver could be 68% liable and you may still receive some benefits.In Maryland, if you are found even 1% liable, the claim may not be covered in regards to the Underinsured Motorist coverage. It sounds like the legislature may be revisiting that law in the near future.
So why did they go to court? In order to resolve the claim, Progressive needed to know who was at fault, and because of conflicting eyewitness accounts, the case did need to go in front of a jury. It was determined on August 9ththat Katie was not at fault. By the morning of August 16th, the Fisher family had reached a settlement with Progressive.
The big question is, does this change our perception of Progressive? No, not really. First, it seems as though the trial was merited due to a law that applies specifically in Maryland. Washington has different laws and regulations for policies in our state. Secondly, Progressive has brought so much to the market in terms of technology, innovation and servicing. In our experience,their claims handling is above the industry standard, and when our clients feel that they fall short we take the company to task. We have seen a few times on more serious repairs where things have been missed but when we intervene, the repairs have been completed to the satisfaction of our client – which is always our goal, regardless of the company.
Admittedly,this case is complex, troubling and heartbreaking. If you have questions about this case or concerns about a policy with Progressive PLEASE call us. We are more than happy to talk with you, to answer any questions, and if need be we represent 5 other auto insurance carriers that we hold in high esteem.