Progressive Insurance loses more than 1,000 customers in PR debacle

Many people dropped their Progressive coverage after comedian Matt Fisher's Tumblr post revealing that the company defended his sister's killer in court.

Mar 3, 2020, 3:26 am*

IRL

Fernando Alfonso III 

Fernando Alfonso III

More than 1,000 Progressive Insurance customers have reportedly dropped their coverage following a public relations nightmare that pitted the insurance giant against a comedian whose family was mistreated following his sister’s death.

During a four day span last week, more than 1,000 people tweeted that they had canceled their Progressive insurance after comedian Matt Fisher published a Tumblr post calling out the insurer for failing to pay his sister’s policy after she was killed in a car accident. As a result, Fisher’s family filed a “civil suit against the other driver in hopes that, rather than going to court, Progressive would settle.”

“Progressive did not. Progressive made a series of offers (never higher than 1/3 the amount they owe) and then let it go to a trial,” Fisher wrote. “At the trial, the guy who killed my sister was defended by Progressive’s legal team. If you are insured by Progressive, and they owe you money, they will defend your killer in court in order to not pay you your policy.”

In response to Fisher’s Tumblr post—which has since collected about 12,000 notes and caught the attention of CBS This MorningProgressive denied taking part in defending his sister’s killer in court. That proved to be false after one Tumblr sleuth discovered the public record from the Circuit Court of Maryland showing that Progressive did actually represent the defendant.

“Sometimes this can be proven without the need for a trial, but in Ms. Fisher’s case, there were credible conflicting eyewitness accounts as to who was at fault,” said Progressive in a statement Tuesday, explaining why it participated in the case. “Our customers’ concerns are always a priority and we will continue working to answer any questions they may have.”

Progressive’s explanation came a little too late.

On top of the 1,000 customers who tweeted about leaving the insurer, about 1,600 more expressed “a desire to not do business with the company,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

Over the last month, Progressive was mentioned on Twitter about 16,000 times. That number spiked last week, collecting more than 86,000 mentions, according to Topsy, a social media search engine.

On Friday, Fisher updated his Tumblr followers on his family’s case and thanked the community for its support.

“My family and I are pleased at the prospect of finally collecting Katie’s insurance. We are also unspeakably grateful to the people around the world who are helping us share our story,” he wrote. “As we move forward, we hope to focus on celebrating the joy that Katie brought us and working to change the balance of power between policyholders and the insurance companies they pay to protect them.”

Photo by greyloch

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*First Published: Aug 21, 2012, 12:00 pm