UPDATE: Progressive Insurance tweeted Aug 16, 2012 that a settlement
with the Fishers had been reached. Here is a screen capture of that tweet:
Since August 13, 2012, when Matt Fisher wrote about this family’s miserable experience with Progressive Insurance in his tumblr there has been an avalanche of negativity launched towards Progressive.
His tumbler post titled “My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer in Court”generated blog posts, tweets, Facebook and Google Plus shares and multiple threads on Reddit.
Progressive’s response has simply dug the hole deeper and deeper as I documented in the whole Progressive Insurance Fisher Story.
Progressive’s position is basically that they met the letter of the law and they obviously do not feel any need to actually do what is right or to care what their customers think.
While some report that they “settled” with the Fisher family, as I edit this post on Aug 25, 2012 they have NOT seen one thin dime. Read on to see why they may not get what the judge ordered.
See Matt Fisher Video About Progressive Insurance persuasively
explaining what happened and why he tweeted
“My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court“
in GrowMap’s post Progressive Insurance Reform
Matt Fisher’s sister, Katie, was killed in an auto accident in 2012 by a driver who ran a red light according to witnesses. Because Katie’s killer was underinsured, Katie’s policy with Progressive should have paid out the difference between the at fault driver’s insurance of $25,000 and the $100,000 Katie carried.
Progressive clearly owed the Fisher family $75,000.
Progressive chose to take the position that KATIE was at fault in the accident in spite of the evidence and the other driver’s insurance company paying – something they clearly would NOT have done if their customer was not at fault.
Because Maryland law does not allow policy holders to sure their insurance companies for breach of contract, Katie’s family had to prove Katie was not at fault by establishing that the other driver caused the accident.
Redditors were outraged – see the comments about Progressive Insurance on Reddit
surrounding SF Chronicle’s Progressive Insurance on Defense After Court Case
Because getting a jury ruling to prove the other driver was at fault was the only way to force Progressive to pay what they clearly owed, the Fisher family reluctantly took the other driver to court.
They never dreamed that Progressive would sent their legal team to defend the driver that killed Katie in order to avoid paying the Fisher family the $75,000 they clearly owed.
Graph by Alerti
~Discussions around Progressive were 51.33 percent negative
in the week since Matt Fisher’s post ~
The jury ruled in favor of the Fisher family – the other driver was determined to be negligent – and the judge ordered Progressive to pay.
Progressive actually made the bad publicity worse by claiming they did NOT defend Katie’s killer in court when they most certainly did. What lawyers consider acceptable has little to do with what it right and almost any strategy that can result in a win is acceptable – even lying.
This is likely to be the number one most often cited example of what not to do when your business is in the midst of a PR crisis, as well as the power of social media publicity.
With any luck this outpouring of disgust at their behavior will cost Progressive dearly for many years and possibly even get them to reconsider their unethical ways. But that is doubtful so I wouldn’t count on it.
The reason people act the way they do is because they truly
believe they are right. That is unlikely to change regardless
of how many object or tell them why they’re not.
Graph by Alerti
Even with dozens of articles posted about the scandal, Twitter ruled
the online conversation with 99.33 percent of mentions.
Progressive will pay the cost of the court of public opinion but it is unlikely
they will connect the dots and realize THIS case is responsible for a
reduction in earnings over many years as current policy-holders
cancel and others avoid switching to Progressive when
comparing insurance companies and rates.
Over 1,000 Twitter users claim to have dropped Progressive as their insurance carrier in a four-day span last week. 1,600 more Twitter users indicated they would avoid using Progressive according to Marketwatch.com.
Progressive created and perpetuated this PR catastrophe by their single-minded pursuit to save $75,000 instead of doing the right thing. Even if they routinely refuse to pay – which I have no doubt IS true – once they realized how large an outcry this case was generating even they should have decided they could not get away it – this time.
Anyone else curious how many blog posts were written about Progressive
since Matt’s Tumbler? Tell me in the comments and I will research –
I can find out using GroupHigh’s Blog Outreach Management Tool
Businesses concerned that social media users might rise up against them – and that CAN happen whether you are honest and upstanding or greedy and selfish – can use monitoring sites such as Alerti to track conversations involving your company.
By monitoring and immediately responding to complaints posted online about your business, you can head off and handle situations BEFORE they escalates to the level seen in the Progressive scandal.
- Social Media Monitoring
- Salvaging a PR catastrophe
- Progressive Case Study
Progressive Insurance Reform
- Seth Godin: Corporations are NOT People
- Gawker: Comedian Calls Out Insurance Company
- CBS News: Internet Outrage Against Progressive Grows
- Consumer Affairs Progressive Insurance Rating