There’s a reason why Flo—the perky face of Progressive Corp. insurance company—has been unusually quiet on her Twitter account during the past week.
Last week, Matt Fisher wrote a scathing blog post titled “My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court” in which he explained that his sister Kaitlynn was killed in a June 2010 car crash when Ronald K. Hope III, an underinsured driver with a Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. policy, ran a red light. Kaitlynn had a policy with Progressive that covered the actions of uninsured or underinsured drivers that caused injury or death up to $100,000. Nationwide paid the Fishers $25,000 after the accident, and the Fishers believed they were due $75,000 from Progressive. The Fishers sued Hope, hoping that if a jury found him negligent, Progressive would make good on its policy.
But to Fisher’s dismay, Progressive instead participated in the trial as a defendant seeking to hold Kaitlynn at fault for the accident. Fisher’s blog post sparked consumer outrage against Progressive.
The jury ended up deciding in favor of the Fishers and awarded them $760,000, $75,000 of which was to come from Progressive. The Fishers’ lawyer also said Progressive agreed to pay the family “tens of thousands” of dollars more to settle the case. Nonetheless, the PR backlash the insurance company faced likely will cause some lasting damage.