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Jerry H. Trachtman
Jerry H. Trachtman
Attorney • (321) 723-8281

Progressive Insurance–Same Old Story

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Progressive Insurance has made the news recently, in connection with the death of a young woman who was killed when the Progressive-insured automobile she was driving was T-boned by an automobile that, according to an independent witness, ran a red light and caused the crash. The driver of the car that caused the crash had only a $25,000 liability insurance policy issued by Nationwide. Liability insurance coverage offers some financial protection to members of the public who may be injured due to the negligence of the insured, but in this case $25,000 was grossly inadequate compensation to the family of the young woman killed by the Nationwide driver’s negligence. Nationwide recognized the magnitude of the loss and the negligence of its insured, and paid its $25,000 liability insurance coverage. The dead Progressive driver’s policy included $100,000.00 underinsured/uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. UM coverage provides the insured driver an extra layer of financial protection when, as in this case, the at-fault driver has insufficient, or no, liability insurance coverage. But here’s the twist. Progressive not only refused to pay its UM coverage, but when it became necessary for the family of the deceased Progressive driver to sue the driver that caused the crash, Progressive’s attorney showed up at the trial and actively assisted with the defense of the at-fault driver. He examined and cross examined witnesses, and argued to the jury that Progressive’s deceased driver caused the crash. Despite the efforts of Progressive, the jury determined that the Nationwide driver was negligent and caused the crash. This must have really upset Flo, the Progressive Insurance TV spokesperson.

Progressive’s handling of this UM claim typifies insurance companies who are more interested in collecting the premiums charged for coverage than they are in paying legitimate claims. Through massive and costly lobbying, advertising campaigns, and the spreading of misinformation, they would have you falsely believe that there is a “lawsuit crisis” which makes it necessary to limit an injured person’s access to the courts, and limit the ability of a seriously injured person to obtain fair and just compensation from the person or company whose wrongful actions caused the injury. This is usually referred to as “tort reform.” If anyone has any doubts as to the true motives of the insurance industry in pushing for so-called “tort reform”, this case should make it very clear that the insurance industry is focused on eliminating the only means available for a seriously injured person to obtain justice: our courts.

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  1. Vern Dennis says:
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    You cannot make assumptions about the merits of the case based upon an insurance company tendering small policy limits. The cost of defending any claim is fairly high and since most jurisdictions haven’t been progressive enough to add “loser pays” as one of the reforms, a good many cases get settled, that should, in perfect world, defended to the end.

    Moreover, this particular case was in Maryland, one of the five jurisdictions in the USA that maintains the doctrine of contributory negligence, meaning that very small negligence would bar recovery. If I were a Nationwide insured, and Nationwide indeed did not owe the claim, then I would expect them to fight the claim.