Progressive Takes Another Shot at Public Relations

Here is the email I got from Progressive’s PR people today:

In response to your story involving Progressive Insurance, please see the below updated statement on behalf of Progressive:

For the past week, Progressive has been in active settlement discussions with the family of Kaitlynn Fisher. Though there was considerable public interest in this case and we know many of you saw mentions of it on social media and news outlets, we also believed it was inappropriate to share further details while those discussions were ongoing. As of this morning, an agreement has been reached with the Fisher family to settle the claim. Prior to that, we were cautious with our responses, but now that the agreement has been reached, we’d like to further clarify Progressive’s role in the trial.

Ms. Fisher held a policy with Progressive that included Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage, which protects drivers in the event they’re struck by an at-fault driver who’s either uninsured or doesn’t have enough coverage.

Under Maryland law, in order to receive the benefits of an underinsured driver claim, the other driver must be at fault. Sometimes this can be proven without the need for a trial, but in Ms. Fisher’s case, there were credible conflicting eyewitness accounts as to who was at fault.

A trial was necessary so that a jury could review all of the evidence and come to a decision. In those circumstances, under Maryland law, the insurance company providing the Underinsured Motorist coverage is considered a defendant. As a defendant in this case, Progressive participated in the trial procedures on our own behalf while Nationwide represented the other driver.

On Thursday, August 9, a jury determined that the other driver was at fault in the accident involving Ms. Fisher. In accordance with that decision, Progressive worked with the Fisher family and their legal representative to resolve the claim.

This was a tragic accident and our sympathies go out to the Fisher family.
Statement posted here:
[name deleted] | Account Manager
Allison+Partners for Progressive
71 Fifth Avenue, 7th Floor | New York, NY 10003
Direct: [deleted]
Mobile: [deleted]
[more personal information deleted]

So Progressive reached a settlement with the Fisher family. Yesterday. What a coincidence. My big question, the one I’m never going to get the answer to, is did Progressive pay more than the policy limits to resolve the claim.ladyjustice

Progressive is now stepping forward and claiming there was a dispute of fact with “conflicting” eyewitness accounts. I’ll bet you anything the defendant disagrees with the eye witness. If it really wants the true facts to come out, it would get the Fisher family’s permission as a courtesy (they really don’t need it), and publish the transcript from the trial online.

  • j

    I know some adjusters over there – I’ll try to find out what they paid… Progressive made two fatal errors here: 1. Responding to anything on the internet. That was just boned headed. They should’ve kept their mouths shut and not made any PR statements what-so-ever. 2. Failing to use social media as a tool. Had they maybe checked out Katie’s facebook page or evaluated the PR firestorm online maybe they would’ve made a more educated decision on whether or not to try the case? Many a times, even with some of YOUR clients, I’ve checked out myspace or facebook pages of bi claimants and sent photos of claimants on vacation parasailing, rock climbing, etc and asked the PC how that lumbar strain was doing. 🙂

    As previously mentioned… claims aren’t black and white. You can be 100% right & 100% wrong at the same time. Good adjusters pick their battles intellegently.

  • Richard Hershberger

    “Progressive is now stepping forward and claiming there was a dispute of fact with “conflicting” eyewitness accounts. I’ll bet you anything the defendant disagrees with the eye witness.”

    Maybe, but I’m not willing to assume it.

    In my other life I research 19th century baseball. It was not uncommon in the 1860s for disputed games to be argued in the newspapers. A frequent pattern is a member of one club writes an outraged letter presenting a fact set which makes his club look like an innocent victim. This would be followed a week later by a letter from a member of the other club giving additional facts that throw a completely different light on the incident. If the newspaper editor cared, and hadn’t had a reporter at the game, he would track down the umpire for an impartial account, which might well be different from either of the preceding two.

    This isn’t necessarily conscious lying. Partial observers in stressful situations will see things differently from impartial observers. We see this today: ask a fan his opinion of a close call by the umpire. This opinion will often depend heavily which which team he supports.

    So in this case, Matt Fisher sees the liability case as not open to honest dispute. Maybe, but he is not an impartial observer, and also doesn’t understand the applicable standard.

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