When we purchase an insurance policy for our vehicles or other property, the insurance company has not only a moral, but also a legal obligation to investigate any claims and provide a decision in a timely way…in the end, you expect your insurance company to stand up for your interests in the event of an accident.
Sometimes, insurance companies fail in this obligation – when they do, the company is said to be acting in “bad faith.”
Most cases involving “bad faith” on the part of an insurance company go unnoticed. But in the case of Katie Fisher and her insurance company, social media, blogs and other online channels quickly turned her case into a PR firestorm for her insurance company, Progressive.
First for the story on Katie’s case, who tragically lost her life in June 2010 when another driver in an SUV ran a red light and hit her car in the side…sadly, the young college grad died instantly.
The offending driver in this case did not have adequate insurance coverage to pay Katie’s family. The policy limit was $25,000. Katie though did purchase uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage up to a $100,000 for a situation like this. Under the terms of the policy, Katie’s insurance would agree to pay the different between her payout limits and what the offending driver could pay.
In this case, the at-fault driver could only pay $25,000, which left a difference of $75,000.
The Fisher family needed this amount in order to pay Katie’s debts and final expenses. Rather than paying the difference though, the family was forced to prove fault by suing the offending driver. Once they had the decision – which was favorable to their case – the Fisher’s could then use the decision to force Progressive to pay.
In the trial to establish fault though, Katie’s insurance company actively participated in the offending driver’s defense. If it was determined that Katie was at fault, even 1%, Progressive would have been absolved from any financial obligation under state (Maryland) law.
Once Progressive attempted to blame Katie for the accident, her brother, Matt Fisher, posted the family’s story on the Internet.
Once Matt posted the story online, it spread quickly. Before long, literally thousands of angry customers were posting complaints on Progressive’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. What really touched off the PR firestorm though was Progressive’s response to these Facebook and Twitter postings.
In reply to the postings on the company’s social media accounts, Progressive offered the same response – “We fully investigated this claim and relevant background, and feel we properly handled the claim within our contractual obligations.”
This response just fueled critics’ anger even more.
According to the Fisher’s attorney, Allen Cohen, Progressive agreed to settle the case for well above the $75,000 the family was initially seeking. In an interview with CNN, Cohen explained the payment was for Progressive’s “…failure to exercise good faith toward their insured.”
Watch the interview of Matt Fisher below for more.
You assume your insurance company has your back in the event of an accident. This “peace of mind” is the reason you buy auto insurance in the first place.
If you’ve been in an auto accident in Tennessee and are experiencing similar problems with your insurance company, it’s important you consult with an attorney who specializes in both auto accidents and insurance bad faith.
Knoxville car accident attorneys at the Gilreath Law Firm possess extensive experience in both legal areas. Losing a loved in an auto accident is a tragedy words are unable to describe. In terms of financial impact though, you do have recourse from the offending driver. And if your insurance company mishandles your claim or otherwise doesn’t fulfill their obligations to act in good faith, understand that you have grounds for obtaining further compensation.