The Associated Press is reporting on a case arising out of a June 2010 auto crash that killed Kaitlynn Fisher. Progressive Insurance Company is now dealing with wide-spread negative publicity for its efforts to avoid paying policy benefits to the family of its insured, Kaitlynn Fisher, who died in the auto collision. The case stems from the June 2010 crash in which Fisher was killed in an auto collision with Ronald K. Hope III. According to an eyewitness at the scene, Hope ran a red light and caused the fatal collision. When Fisher’s family made a claim with Hope’s auto liability insurer, Nationwide, Hope’s insurer did not dispute Hope’s liability and paid the limits of Hope’s policy to the Fisher family. Fisher’s family then made a claim with their daughter’s auto policy insurer, Progressive, for underinsured motorist coverage (UIM coverage). Progressive denied the claim.
UIM coverage is meant to provide coverage to the policy holder when the at-fault party does not have sufficient coverage to account for all the damages caused by the at-fault party. The injured party still must establish that the damages were caused by an underinsured motorist. In the Fisher case, the family received the limits of insurance from Hope’s policy and then sought additional benefits through their daughter’s Progressive policy. Progressive took the position that Hope was not at fault for causing the incident and, instead, blamed the collision on its own policy holder, Kaitlynn Fisher. Fisher’s family then filed a lawsuit seeking to establish liability on the part of Hope, which if proven, would trigger Progressive’s responsibility to pay UIM benefits. Progressive then intervened into the lawsuit, worked with defense counsel, and introduced evidence seeking to blame its own deceased policy holder.
Thankfully for the Fisher family, justice prevailed and the jury found Hope negligent and the cause of the collision, despite Progressive’s attempts to persuade the jury otherwise. Why would Progressive try to blame its own policy holder for causing the crash? The answer is simple, so Progressive would not have to pay the UIM benefits under the policy. While the media and bloggers are finding this to be unusual and outrageous, this is exactly what insurance companies do. They make promises, collect premiums, and deny claims.