The Internet is hammering Progressive Insurance for defending an uninsured motorist wrongful death case. Just hammering. It's wild. And I'm really enjoying it. Should I? Progressive has committed many crimes
against humanity . But in this case that has caused the Internet to explode, Progressive is being framed for a crime it did not commit, at least on the facts on which Progressive is being hung by the mob.
(Update: Progressive's PR people sent me an email explaining themselves further.)
Before I defend them, let's talk about why I don't like Progressive. (Here is a summary of the pain of dealing with them.) Because I don't. I feel a little bad saying that because I really do like some of their adjusters, many of which are really nice people. But it is an awful company to deal with on car accident claims. They generally write pathetically small policies that are unlikely to meaningfully compensate anyone who is seriously injured. They write a lot of $30,000/$60,000 polices which are the minimum in Maryland - the exact reason they are able to brag about their pricing. Yes, practically no coverage at all is pretty cheap.
Just as annoying, Progressive gives awful settlement offers until you file suit, because they can always pony up their piddly little policies at the last minute and avoid exposure. (I complain about this here.) Because they can always pony up their piddly little policies at the last minute and avoid exposure. Thankfully, Progressive has a small in-house counsel's office in Maryland hich means once a lawsuit is filed, they dramatically change their tune. I've had Progressive claims adjusters tell me to file suit so they can increase their offer.
Anyway, the thing that is causing this hubbub is a case where a beautiful young woman - a Progressive insured - is tragically killed in a car accident in Baltimore. Nationwide Insurance, the at-fault carrier, at some point tenders their policy limits. Progressive refuses to waive it subrogation rights (explained here) against the at-fault driver. So it claimed that it was not obligated to pay because the young woman was at-fault for the accident. Her brother wrote a really well written piece, underscoring his anger and frustration with Progressive, and then the Internet did what the Internet does.
Was this a good faith belief? Certainly, I have my doubts. Progressive most likely only had a $100,000 policy. So it had nothing to lose in rolling the dice and trying the case. This is the kind of garbage they do all of the time (which is why Maryland needs a first party bad faith law with real teeth). We have had plenty of verdicts against insurance companies in uninsured motorist cases because they were not motivated to settle because they knew no matter what the jury awarded, they would only have to pay the policy limits.
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